Steel frame homes are known to be the most cost effective structures. Contemporary home architecture and construction offer many options – timber frames, concrete structures and despite that steel framing is more popular in industrial construction, it has found its place in residential buildings. Steel frame homes are exceptionally resilient, durable and offer a lot of benefits.
It is true that when you hear “a steel frame house” the first impression that comes to mind is not very flattering and people imagine a boxy cage-looking structure that does not look like home at all and this is one of the main reasons why people choose alternative options. Once you realize that a metal frame home offers original aesthetic possibilities and can have an amazing appearance you may change your opinion of steel framed homes. A metal frame house does not have to look like a steel cube. You can have a brick facade or wood, exterior cladding or vinyl siding to create the appearance that you want. Steel framing has some advantages but it has some drawbacks, as well — most notably its poor insulation ability and we shall have a look at the pros and cons of metal frame homes.
Steel frame homes – advantages and benefits
What are the pros of steel frame homes? Why people choose them over traditional wood framing for residential structures? What type of steel is used for metal frame homes? Those are the first questions that come to mind when you need to compare steel frame houses and traditional houses.
Steel has been in use for building construction since the 19th century but mainly in commercial buildings. The two types of steel are “hot-rolled” and “cold-formed”. Both types are very strong, but hot-rolled steel is thick and heavy. In addition, it is very expensive and rarely used for residential buildings. Cold-formed steel can be formed into much thinner profiles and can be cut and folded. Steel frames offer the advantage of being custom made and sized during the production process and there is no need to cut and fix their size during construction. Steel framing can be ordered pre-framed which means that all door and window openings would be constructed at a factory and delivered to the site of construction ready to erect. This means less labor cost and shorter construction period.
Durability of steel frames is hard to beat and this is probably the most important advantage. Steel frames allow bigger space between the vertical studs and larger open space. Steel frames do not warp or expand which is a major advantage when compared with wood framing. In a steel frame home you will not have problems with rotting, fungus or termites and ants. A metal frame house is more resistant to earthquakes and high winds as well.
When building a steel frame house, the inside frames are grounded to the earth which gives additional stability to the construction and the framing acts as a lightning rod. Further to that, steel house framing is not combustible.
Lightweight is another advantage over wood framing. Steel is lighter than wood, concrete and brick. Steel is resistant to water and will not expand or contract. Steel framing has a longer lifespan than any other material when treated properly with the right coatings and paint.
Steel is completely recyclable and is considered as an eco-friendly material. A steel frame house is the right choice for a long life building, short construction period and environmentally friendly residential architecture.
Disadvantages of steel frame homes
Energy efficiency is the biggest issue of steel frame homes. They are not energy-efficient because steel has very poor insulating properties due to the fast conduction of heat. To overcome this problem, extra insulation or high efficiency insulation should be installed.
Despite that steel frame houses are constructed quickly, the process requires knowledge, tools and special equipment. Not every contractor has the necessary tools, so you have to do some research if you have decided to opt for a metal frame home.
Steel framing is usually galvanized to protect it from corrosion as steel frames are susceptible to rust. If the surface coating is cut, scratched or penetrated moisture can cause rust.
Another disadvantage of steel frame homes is the overall strength of the steel. It does maintain structural integrity but metal framing will not support heavy wall mounted furniture pieces or cabinetry. This leads to a necessity of additional support which adds to the cost of construction.