Block vs Wood Frame Construction. Tampa General Contractor Explains Pros And Cons


In this post, we’re addressing the differences between block and wood frame construction. A common issue for clients is deciding which is a better fit for their project. Read till the end for our unbias opinion on what you should do in 2022 with your construction project. 


3 years ago, wood would have been the cheaper option for frame construction. But since then, the price of lumber has gone up significantly. Including plywood, wood studs, and beams. 


This has resulted in a parody of wood versus block. 


Block is unarguably a better product. There’s almost no engineer who would tell you that if you had a choice, to build your addition out of block unless you already have an existing wood-frame home. 


But why does it cost the same?


Let’s consider how a wood room addition would be built,


Most people expect wood room additions to be quite simplistic. A few beams here, a few studs there, and boom, the wood frame is complete. In reality, the studs used on wood additions have to be southern yellow pine, primed, and load-bearing rated (prime cuts of wood). It’s also very rare to see a 2×4 wall. Most exterior walls are 2×6 or 2×8. 


So you’re paying extra for larger pieces of wall and specialized studs. 


Consider that the wall also has to be covered with something on the outside. Even if you’re doing a lap siding and not a stucco, you still have to include a layer of plywood sheathing. 


Plywood has doubled in price within the past two years. 


Now say you’re doing a stucco finish on the exterior (something commonly run into in Florida). You can’t apply the stucco directly to the wood. You have to cover the wood frame area with paper-backed wire lath, add a layer of Tyvek water barrier, and then proceed with applying the stucco finish. 


That’s what a basic wood frame wall would consist of.  


Now, take a look at the inside of that wood-frame wall. You have to do bat insulation.

For wood, this requires a thick layer of foam, compared to block which has a thin layer. 

So the insulation cost increases as well. 


In total, this results in 5 layers + the added cost of insulation. 


Now let’s compare this to block


Block is a cementitious material. So when you go to stucco it, you can apply it directly to the wall.

Furring strips, (3 quarter inch strips of wood that are pressure treated) are also added to the inside of the block. Relatively inexpensive, they require the cheapest cuts of wood and are easily installed into the block wall. After installment, the only step left is adding the thin layer of insulation. 


So to sum it up,


With today’s market pricing in lumber; wood and block additions equal out to the same price. There is no significant difference between them. 


If you’re looking to build a room addition, undoubtedly build it out of concrete block. It performs better over time, has fewer issues, and it’s easier to do repairs. With Florida’s high humidity and water intrusion rates, it’s also more durable compared to wood. 


If you have a remodeling question or inquires about remodeling your space in the Tampa Bay Area, please send an email to homeloveconstruction@gmail.com 


-Brad Bachand

Transcribed/Published by Emily Lavechia

Emily Lavechia