Is Steel Framing the best choice for your project?

Traditionally, framing materials such as structural steel, concrete or timber have been used when constructing buildings. However, lightweight steel is becoming an increasingly popular framing choice for both multi-level and single-storey commercial and residential buildings.

Steel framing is a construction method in which steel columns and beams are assembled to create a support for floors, roofs, cladding, as well as a base for internal fixtures, wall and ceiling finishings.

Greater strength than other materials

Steel has a higher density than timber or concrete which means that, although steel is heavier for the same dimensions, less steel is necessary to provide the same amount of support.

This reduction in the amount of material used means lower transport and labour costs and simplified design of foundations and other structural supports.

Light gauge steel framing can be used for low- to mid- rise buildings up to 10 storeys tall and ideal for the construction of a wide range of residential and commercial buildings.

Life-span

Steel can last longer than timber or concrete, providing all three are properly maintained in a normal manner.

Steel does not split, crack, warp, rot, or expand when there is an increase in moisture. Because it is not porous, mould and mildew does grow, nor is it . It is not susceptible to insect attack and lacks porosity. However, corrosion may result if untreated steel is in contact with water.

Provided a coating of fire-resistant to prevent the steel from losing its strength and integrity in a fire and a water-resistant material is applied to prevent rusting, the life span is very lengthy.

Steel framing is also naturally strong and ductile, which makes it resistant to the chance of damage from high winds and, therefore, an ideal material for earthquake resistant designs.

Cost-effectiveness

On-site labour can be reduced by 10% to 20% as steel frames are fabricated off-site. It follows that shorter construction times means lower financing costs and that the building can be used or rented as soon as possible for faster payback.

Although steel framing may cost more initially to purchase, the fact that it can be easily managed and installed on site  results in faster project completion and savings in labour costs.

Sustainability

Steel is 100% recyclable and, in fact, is the world’s most recycled material. It is endlessly recyclable because it does not lose any inherent properties such as strength when it is melted down and recast.

The amount of scrap or waste steel produced can be reduced before fabrication by the use of computer modelling but in any event, any scrap that is produced can be recycled for use in other projects.

Steel also prevents cracks and air leaks due to shrinkage which aids in energy efficiency.

Versatility

Structural steel can be made into different shapes and, as it still maintains its strength, presents the opportunity for creative and innovative designs which are not only aesthetically pleasing but structurally sound.

It is, therefore, ideal for the creation of large-span buildings such as indoor arenas or very tall buildings or bridges and other transport structures. Importantly, steel framed buildings are more conducive to structural addition or modification, such as expanding the size of an existing building.

Faster and easier to install than timber, concrete or structural steel, light weight is easier to transport and handle on site, meaning the framing can be assembled faster, with less reliance on heavy-duty machinery.

Faster build-times

Manufacturing of standardised bolted connections and repetitive floor plates make production faster. Such standardisation, plus regulatory policies, make structural steel components dependable and easy to assemble.

The steel frames are prefabricated offsite to fit a certain specification before being sent to the site and are immediately ready to be assembled by bolting or welding.

There is also no need for temporary formwork which has to be assembled and then dismantled, delaying the construction as well as creating waste.

Safety issues

Steel frames perform well due to their inherent tensile strength and can withstand a range of natural phenomena such as hurricanes, seismic activity and snow loads, as well as performing better in any explosions or impact occurrence.

Space maximisation

In view of their strength, steel frames can be spaced wider apart which, in turn, provides for more flexible floor designs that can maximise available space.

It’s clear from the above that steel framing has many advantages over other popular building materials. A steel-framed home is, typically, lighter, more durable and more cost-effective to assemble than building with timber. The frames are more resistant against flexing and warping, meaning the building ends up with straighter lines and finishes on the roof, ceilings and walls.

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