What’s Better for Horses – timber or steel construction?

06 Jul 2012, by harrisonlane in Blog

When choosing how to build your dream stable and which type of construction you think provides the best value for money there are some key points to consider:

  • How will the materials you are considering behave in a stable environment?
  • How easy will it be to work with the building material once the structure has been erected?
  • What dangers are posed to horses by the building materials?


The impact of horse manure and urine on steel corrosion:

When stables are being designed it is important to take into account the corrosive environment. Corrosion is the gradual destruction of material, usually metal, by chemical reaction with its environment. Many structural alloys corrode merely from exposure to moisture in the air but the process can be strongly affected by exposure to certain substances. Horse manure and urine mixed with litter ferments to release moisture, ammonia and carbon dioxide. This mixture is corrosive towards steel structures that are poorly protected or that have a weakness.

NPL is the UK’s National Measurement Institute, and is a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate measurement standards, science and technology available. They have written a paper on the effects of animal manure on buildings. Click on the link below and refer to point 2.2.3.

steel corrosion


What are the weak points in steel construction?

Steel is usually galvanized but where it is cut, screwed, welded or punched the galvanized coating is penetrated leaving the raw steel exposed and leading to the potential for corrosion.

The galvanizing on the steel will be penetrated many times when the finishing elements of the building are completed. Most people will want to line their tack and feed rooms in order to make the most of the wall space which is ideal for storage. Nogging between steel studs to take wall linings or shelving is much more challenging than when working with timber framing.

timber vs steel construction

Why we recommend timber construction for horse stables

Solid timber construction provides a safe warm environment for horses to live in, with timber having proven to be 400 timer warmer than steel. All the connections that fix the timber claddings and linings to the main frame of the building are completely safe and there are no sharp objects. In the case of steel where the legs of the building might need to be bolted to the concrete pad these bolts could fall within a stable posing a danger to the horse and also making them susceptible to corrosion from horse manure.


Contact Laura on 021 722 578 or to discuss your individual requirements.


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