Steel versus Wood
These following comments are based on my experience with steel framing. After attending an American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) seminar, I started using light gauge steel for load bearing residential applications in the mid-1990s.
Contractors that think steel framing is a bad way to go have a wood mentally.
I have always used light gauge steel for non-load bearing commercial framing. Almost all commercial is light gauge steel. I have used bar joists, steel, concrete block walls and poured concrete walls. I choose light gauge steel over all other systems. I have rebuilt homes twice, the second time with light gauge steel. Steel framing can be used in place of any wood framing. Steel can be attached to wood framing. Steel can be used to reinforce wood framing. When it comes to cost, steel is comparable to wood framing, it just depends on how you use steel and how you build with it. Why don’t we build homes out of logs? Why? Because of cost, value and energy efficiency! Block walls are weak and need concrete reinforcement. Block walls take longer to build and are less energy efficient. Block walls crack and are heavy. I happen to own block trowels, nails guns and hammers for over thirty 33 years.
Reinforced 8 foot high masonry walls cost $120.00 average per linear foot. I can build 3 5/8” 18 gauge steel stud walls with plywood for $38.00 per foot. An 18 gauge steel stud can support 900 lbs. Installation in steel framed walls for electrical and plumbing is easy when studs have precut holes.
FACT: Steel has better design versatility than wood.
FACT: Steel is lighter and stronger than wood! Wood Pine studs are not straight or consistent. Screws are stronger and better than nails. Screws have known performance applications. Nails are installed on a prescriptive application based on code requirements. Nails move around in wood. Wood framing is connected with steel.
Daily temperature difference makes wood expand and contract which causes nails to move out of the wood.
FACT: Frame walls are more energy efficient than masonry.
FACT: Termites do more damage than all fires, storms, tornados and hurricanes combined.
FACT: Steel doesn’t burn.
FACT: Steel can be pre-fabricated saving time and labor.
FACT: Steel framing is electrically grounded
FACT: Steel is more wind resistant than wood
FACT: When the home is finished, you can’t tell it’s made from steel
Because of its strength light gauge steel can be framed the conventional, or multiple other ways. Light gauge steel can be used to make beams, columns, trusses and floor joists. Steel can be applied in tension. Because of its known design properties steel can be specifically engineered. Wood is fibrous. Mold grows on wood and is already there. Galvanized zinc coating is toxic to mold. Quality electroplated steel studs are rust proof.
Any home can be modified, repaired, reinforced, added to or reconstructed with steel! Steel is GREEN!