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Why build with steel?
Residential steel framing members are cost-effective, lightweight, easy-to-handle, and manufactured in conditions that allow strict quality control. When designed properly, the result is solid, non-combustible, and durable. Because steel can be pre-cut to desired lengths and is a stable material, you don't need to sort out defective pieces and can erect a frame faster. Also, steel scrap has value and can be recycled.
Will my home look different than the rest in my development?
No, only if you want it to. In fact, because of steel's properties, your architect can design your home with larger open spaces. With steel framing, walls will remain straight and true, preventing callbacks due to nail pops and shrinkage cracks. Finishes can be the same as you are accustomed to using.
What about the environmental impact of steel construction?
The overall recycling rate of the steel industry is 66%-the highest in the country-offering an environmentally sound home framing alternative. Steel framing scrap is a valuable commodity that should not end up in a landfill.
What about cost?
The price of steel has been relatively constant over the last decade. While the price of traditional framing materials has been erratic and growing at a rate much faster than inflation, steel prices have only experienced small quarterly adjustments. Builders interviewed nationwide have affirmed that framing with steel is less expensive than traditional framing.
Can my home be energy-efficient?
Yes. Steel framing can be designed to meet or exceed governmental energy efficiency standards. In addition, by staying straight and true, the steel framing helps prevent cracks due to shrinkage or warping, thus preventing air leaks that result in a costly loss of energy.
Will steel frames interfere with portable radios, phones, or TV reception?
No. Waves pass through the space between the studs, allowing the use of all radios, phones, and television sets in your home.
What about lightning?
The steel frame offers its occupants better protection than any other construction system. Scientists recommend seeking shelter in steel frame structures during lightning storms because the steel frame provides a path to the ground, reducing the likelihood of explosions, secondary fires, or personal injury.
Will my home rust?
The use of galvanized steel frame components protects your home from rust.
Can my house be built to resist earthquakes and hurricanes?
Yes. Positive connection and the strength of steel provide great protection against earthquakes and hurricanes. Steel's high strength and ductility make it the best construction material for earthquake-resistant design.
Will steel framing affect the indoor air quality?
No. Steel framing is recommended by the Healthy House Institute for chemically sensitive and environmentally conscious homeowners who seek good indoor air quality. Steel frames do not need to be treated for termites and are free of resin adhesive and chemicals normally present in other construction materials.
Will I be able to remodel my home?
Yes. Since steel framing allows for larger spans, a home can be designed without interior load-bearing partitions, making it easier for homeowners to complete alterations without affecting the structure.
How do I hang pictures in a steel frame home?
As in traditional homes, depending on the weight of the picture, you can hang it from the drywall with toggle bolts or hangers. Heavier objects can be hung from screws attached directly into the studs, which can easily be found with a magnet.
Will I have to pay higher insurance premiums for my homeowner's insurance?
No. As a matter of fact, because of steel's excellent performance record in earthquakes, and because it is not effected by termites and is non-combustible, homeowners may be able to save on insurance premiums.
Will I be able to sell my home?
Your home does not need to look any different than your neighbors, and should sell just as easily. Because of steel's high strength and durability, your home should last and retain its value for a long time. In fact, if you take advantage of steel's strength and flexibility by designing wide open spaces, you will have additional selling features.
Can I find competent steel framers?
Yes. Steel framing has been used for many years in commercial and multi-family construction where framers have demonstrated their competence. In addition, precision engineering and new tools have simplified steel framing construction, making the transition easier for untrained crews.
Will the house need bigger footings and foundations?
No. Steel framing components weigh up to 60% less than wood framing components. The foundations, and even the seismic design loads can be smaller.
Can I find plumbers and electricians to work on the house?
Plumbers and electricians have worked with steel framing in commercial construction for years and are very familiar with it. Steel studs have prepunched holes that allow faster and easier installation of plumbing and electric work than in conventional homes.
Is steel readily available?
Steel is readily available throughout the country and can be purchashed in stock lengths, pre-engineered, panelized systems, or custom cut. Because of the growing use of steel in residential construction, local lumberyards and commercial building supply warehouses are adding steel framing components to their inventory.
Can I build a steel-framed house close to the seashore?
Yes, with the use of galvanized steel members that are recommended and common in almost all applications. In addition, you should provide a standard, well-insulated weather barrier as required for any home under construction.
Will I need costly tools to build?
No, all you need is a screw gun, a chop saw, aviation snips, and clamps. These tools are readily available at building supply stores.
How can I get more information on cold-formed steel framing and design for residential construction?
BuildSteel.org is a great resource for milti-family and residential design.
- Multi-Family Residential Resource Page
- BuildSteel.org eBooks
- eBook: A Beginner’s Guide to Cold-Formed Steel Framing
The American Iron and Steel Institute has publications and videos that will provide you with more information.
- AISI S230-19: AISI North American Standard for Cold-Formed Steel Framing - Prescriptive Method for One and Two Family Dwellings, 2019 Edition
(Found in: AISI 2015-2019 SPECIFICATION AND FRAMING STANDARDS)