MATERIAL PAIRING: Steel and Wood | Steel and Brick

Mar 08, 2021

Architects are known for their distinctive use of building materials and their attitude towards connecting contextual meaning with building materials. In many cases, their material selection process is the most crucial moment to achieve their artistic design.

The challenge lies in finding the material that belongs together to form a perfect pairing. This three-part material pairing series with six material combination include the most influential and flawless building materials.

Much like concrete, Steel frame structure play well with Wood and Brick. These building materials may not be the most popular Material pairing - Concrete and wood or Concrete and Brick  but bridges fundamental concepts and design philosophy.


Wood and steel pairing works much like wood and concrete. Steel is an engineered material, but unlike a colossal concrete structure, steel appears light and precise. The fabrication process of steel allows for a sleek and slender material. Steel put together with wood resonate aesthetically and with practical reasons.

Wood gives a warm tan brown tone contrasting to the cool grey steel structure, similar tonal configuration on concrete and wood. However, steel surface finish creates a distinction with the woodgrain texture.

Federal Center South Building, ZFG Architects 

How to create a perfect pairing?

A building designed with a steel framework and wood results in an efficient construction. Steel structure practically allows a rapid fastening system that comes together with wood to form the built space. It is almost impossible to span wood construction over a large expanse, but when combined with a steel structure that can support a greater distance it becomes a perfect pairing.

The pairing results indicate more than a structural advantage. This elegant pair can attain thermal control. Steel is an excellent conductor of heat which must avoid transferring heat between the interior and exterior of a building wood meanwhile is a poor conductor. Attached to steel with fasteners create a cavity between the structure, introducing insulation within the cavity accomplishes thermal comfort.

Bullitt Center, The Miller Hull 

Why does it work?

Overlaying wooden structure with steel frame creates a quilted effect, simply because the wood span is lesser than steel frame, multiple layering of wood in small interval creates this effect. This material pairing provides structural support and aesthetical values. Engineered with a steel frame and natural wood offers thermal comfort.


Built with brickwork and steel frame smeared in dark tone exemplify aesthetics of Industrial style architectural design. A popular architectural style that celebrated building service system with an exposed pipeline and ventilation system. This material pairing strikingly similar to the Industrial style describes minimal surface decoration. The steel frame and structural system are exposed and often reveal poles, beams and lintel frame flashing through the brick course.

Industrial style Architecture, Photo by Yuvraj Singh on Unsplash 

How to create a perfect pairing?

The striking beauty of brick and steel viewed from the outside display yet another material combination that works both aesthetically and functionally. A brick facade with steel insertion at intervals for structural support create a highly contrasting facade. This pairing reveals the salient qualities of both materials.

Steel insertion and framework reinforce the brick course and often paired to provide support and span windows and openings in a facade. Structurally the material pairing works well because the steel takes the load distribution to spanned through the lintel. Aesthetically crisp solid lines of steel frame sit above the brickwork, viewed against imperfect brick surface molded steel structure create stunning visual contrast.

Industrial style Architecture, Photo by Joe Dudeck on Unsplash

Why does it work?

Bland and yet bold pairing of Steel and brick play well together because bricks washed pattern and imperfect red hues contrasts with the molded perfect lines of steel soaked in strong colors act as the shadow in a field of color. Raw, powerful play of building material deliver undaunted design.

Read more on how to create the perfect material paring and why do some material just belong with each other. More on Concrete and Wood | Concrete and Brick
Material Pairing : Concrete and Wood | Concrete and Brick
The most captivating architecture today is the result of flawless material pairing. Some building materials just belong together to form a perfect pairing. The most popular material pairing is concrete and wood.


Anusha Ashok

I believe only art can change the world! Although, I constantly critique the design approach & in dispute with my belief. But usually found having tea & listening to Coldplay.