5 top reasons to use cold formed steel (CFS) framing

Continued advancements in technology and the ever increasing focus on the need for building materials and practices to be environmentally friendly are changing the way many hotels and resorts are built. An increasingly popular choice for the framing of both low and medium rise hotels and resorts and other commercial buildings is lightweight or cold formed steel (“CFS”).

Previously, the preferred choice for framing would have included materials such as structural steel, concrete or even timber. However, it has come to be appreciated that cold formed steel offers many advantages over the so-called traditional methods of buildings. Two of these relate to the lower cost and speed of completion of project, but there is also cold formed steel’s versatility in application.

Before we look at the top 5 advantages of using cold formed steel in building project let’s look at exactly what cold formed steel is and how it differs from, say, structural steel.

What is cold formed steel?

Steel products which are shaped by cold-working processes carried out near room temperature are usually referred to as cold formed steel, or CFS. Such processes may include rolling, pressing, stamping and bending.

CFS is also sometimes called light gauge steel (“LGS”) and is widely used in many different areas of construction.

Then, what is CFS framing?

All hotel or resort structures need a framework to be able to support their roof and carry the weight of the walls and floors which altogether comprise the completed building. In CFS framing columns and beams are assembled and fixed together to create such support for roofs, cladding and floors. The frame also forms a base for internal fixtures and fittings, as well as for finishes to walls and ceilings and so on.

CFS framing can be tailor made to the requirements of the project in question and is made from strips of structural quality sheet steel. Such steel is fed through roll forming machines to produce the required shapes and size for later assembly and fixing.

Is there difference between CFS and structural steel?

Whilst both types of steel are made with iron, CFS is made into thin strips and cooled. The resulting cold steel is then formed into the desired thickness and shape and a protective coating applied. Structural steel beams are, on the other hand, made with molten iron with the profile of a cross-section for extra rigidity.

CFS pieces have a constant thickness around their cross-section, whereas hot-rolled shapes usually have some tapering or fillets.

The top 5 advantages of using cold form steel framing for hotels and resorts are as follows:

  • durability and life cycle: providing it is properly maintained, CFS framing steel lasts longer than timber or concrete. Typically, a fire-resistant coating is applied to prevent the steel from losing its strength and integrity in a fire, as well as a water-resistant material to prevent rusting. In fact, CFS meets the necessary engineering, design and building codes compliance and will last as long, if not longer, than any building erected using more traditional materials;
  • sustainability: CFS meets all current sustainability requirements set by all major green building standards and rating programmes, such as the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED), the National Green Building Standard (ICC-700), ASHRAE Standard 189.1 for commercial construction and the International Green Construction Code (IGCC).

CFS is 100% recyclable and is, in fact, the world’s most recycled material as it does not lose any of its inherent properties when it is melted down and reformed. In addition, the amount of waste produced by CFS processes is limited as fabrication and cutting is controlled by computer modelling and robotic machines. Obviously, any off-cuts or waste can also be recycled;

  • tensile strength: steel framing is naturally strong, which makes it resistant to potential damage from weather occurrences such as high winds and heavy rains; it is also an ideal material for earthquake resistant designs.

CFS has a higher density than concrete which means that, although steel is heavier for the same dimensions, less steel is necessary to provide the same amount of support. Furthermore, steel does not crack, warp, rot, or expand when there is an increase in temperature or moisture; it is not porous;

  • versatility in application: CFS still maintains its strength even after it is made into a variety of different shapes. This allows room for creative and innovative designs which may be aesthetically pleasing as well as structurally sound. When structural additions or modifications, such as expanding the size of an existing hotel or resort are being considered, steel framed buildings are easier to adapt;
  • cost-control: on-site labour costs can be reduced by 10%-20% as CFS framing is fabricated off-site, making production faster as the manufacturing of standardised connections and repetitive floor plates save huge amounts of time. Clearly, shorter construction times mean that the subject hotel or resort can be put into use as soon as possible and the duration of any construction financing and its associated costs will be reduced.

There’s no doubt that cold steel framing has many advantages over other building materials. Yet, there is still huge potential for growth in using CFS frameworks, especially as processes will become even more efficient and effective as more and more modular hotel units are put into operation. 

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