The benefits and drawbacks of building with wood compared to building with the tilt-up method.

Wood is one of the most historically popular building materials. Historically, lumber has been plentiful, easy to build with, and good for making strong, lasting constructions. Tilt-up on the other hand, is much newer, but in its short time it has already proven itself to be a reliable and effective construction style. We hope we can help you know what to tell construction contractors on your project: whether wood or concrete is the way to go for your construction.


What is tilt-up construction?


You may have heard the term before, but in case you haven’t here’s a quick break down of what tilt-up is. Tilt-up is a style of construction which uses primarily concrete. It is performed by pouring concrete walls at horizontally at the construction site and then using cranes to “tilt them up” into place. It is known for being effective, quick, cheap, and long-lasting. For a more detailed look at what tilt-up is, you can read our article about it here.


Pros and cons of wood as a construction material






Wood can be used to do a ton of different things. Whether you are building a house, a tree house, a boat, or a 5-star hotel, wood is a good choice. It can easily be formed into walls, rafters, structural frames, floors, doors, and much more. It can be made into exactly what you want it to.




Wood is easy to maintain and repair. Treatments for wood include oils, stains, and paints that can be applied easily and quickly. They will help the wood avoid moisture absorption, staining, and other damage. They can also make the wood look nicer and increase the property value.


Wood comes in many forms


Because wood is so varied, there are thousands of types of lumber for you to choose from. Different hardness, appearance, longevity, and more are things to consider when selecting lumber.




Wood is heavily favored in concert halls, operas, and theaters. Wood’s vibration dampening prevents echoes and makes for far better noise control. There is a reason that many musical instruments are made from wood.




Wood takes significantly more energy to change the temperature. This helps it maintain a constant temperature in heat, and a constant temperature in cold. Wood also provides some insulation, making it a sustainable temperate choice, in fact, many insulation types are made from wood/paper fibers.







In recent years, lumber’s price has skyrocketed. It doesn’t look like it will go down any time soon, so lumber may not be your best choice if you want a cost-effective construction project.


Degradation, and pests


Wood can mildew, rot, and get infected by insects and fungi. Termites, black mold, and more can not only damage your building and property value, but also your health. Wood may be sustainable with treatment and maintenance, but it absolutely requires regular care if you want it to last. Additionally, many of the pests that affect wood affect only wood, not metal or concrete structures.




When wood gets wet, it expands. When it dries, it shrinks. A wooden house in seasonal climates will be prone to changes as the weather goes from dry to wet and hot and cold. This can cause various problems, like doors not fitting properly in frames, and windows being difficult to open and close.


Vulnerable to fire and disasters


Simply put, wood is less strong than concrete and metal. Wood can burn. Strong wind storms can also do serious damage to wooden buildings – that they wouldn’t otherwise to do sturdier structures. You’ve probably seen pictures of wooden houses with debris piercing them after severe wind.


Tilt-up pros and cons



Faster, easier, and safer to install



Pouring concrete on the ground and lifting it with a crane makes the whole process faster, easier, and over all, better. The logistics of having to pour vertical walls are avoided, scaffolding is obviated, and a smaller crew can be used. This is especially true for large buildings, where the large wall size maximizes the tilt-up utility. Because there is no scaffolding required, safety is higher and easier to control for tilt-up construction.


Less waste


Tilt-up results in lower environmental impact than other forms of construction. Cast-in walls (walls poured and set vertically with scaffolding) use both rebar and more concrete mix. Tilt up is more efficient and thus environmentally friendly with its resources.


Extremely durable


The first tilt-up constructions are still standing today. It’s simply an easy, fast way to produce buildings that will withstand the tests of time and the elements.




Adding things like big windows and additions to walls can be difficult or impossible with cast-in wall construction. With tilt-up, it’s easy to get your details and effects done on your walls while they are still on the ground. Different textures and designs can also be implemented.




Less versatile



Tilt-up is still only the best fit economically for large buildings. If you are building a custom house with unique and complicated architecture, tilt-up may not be best for you. You get the best economy when building larger, usually “big-box” type buildings. It’s still possible to customize a smaller construction, but far less easy than with wood or cast-in walls.


Some sites aren’t good for tilt-up


You need plenty of area to do tilt up. You need the area for the foundation of the building and the walls to be laid out around it. In big buildings, you can imagine the space needed. In cities or cramped construction zones, tilt-up may very well be impossible.


So what construction method is best?


Well, that’s ultimately based on what you are building. If you aren’t sure, why not ask a professional? Here at Reliable, we are commercial contractors dedicated to the best service and quality building that money can buy. Visit our website, Reliable Commercial Construction, to read about our many building services and view our portfolio of completed projects. For help deciding on whether your project is best done by wood or tilt-up construction, contact us today.