Have you ever seen a commercial building under construction with a steel frame and wondered whether you could build your home with steel instead of wood framing? The answer is yes, and the trend is growing. A steel frame has many benefits, so let’s look at these tough-as-nails homes.
A steel frame home has metal I-beams replacing the vertical studs, floor and ceiling joists and the bottom and top plates to which the studs are secured. The frame is entirely made of steel.
Benefits of steel frame homes
- Steel frames are far stronger than wood frames, capable of surviving wind speeds of 150 miles per hour and earthquakes of magnitude four or higher.
- Steel frames are fire resistant, reducing the fuel available to feed a house fire.
- Steel is impervious to wood-destroying insects.
- Steel framing does not warp.
- Steel does not rot or mold.
- Steel framing grounds any charge from a lightning strike to the house, discharging the energy into the ground.
Disadvantages of steel frame homes
- Steel frames are more expensive than wood.
- Steel framing requires specialized skills and tools to install. Not all framing crews can erect a steel frame. This adds to the cost. Steel frames go up more quickly, however, saving labor hours.
- Steel framing is less energy efficient. Steel conducts heat and cold from outside to inside and the reverse. This can reduce energy efficiency by up to 40 percent. This issue can be mitigated with extra insulation and by wrapping the framing.
- Because steel framing can rust, it must be installed completely dry. If it gets wet during construction, you must wait until it is completely dry before enclosing it under insulation and wall boarding.
- Steel framing may require special permits from local building code enforcement and inspection officials.
Steel frame kits
One cost-reducing possibility is to purchase a steel frame home kit, in which each piece of the structure is pre-cut to size, and the contractor follows a plan to connect each piece. A steel frame home kit saves time and makes the job much more straightforward. Some homeowners even feel confident building these houses themselves with kits.
Another way you can use metal in constructing your home is on the roof. Typically, metal roofs have been installed in large sheets, but today’s metal roofs can look like slate or ceramic tile. A significant advantage of metal roofs is that they can last over 50 years. But these roofs can dent easily in a hail storm, and some people don’t like the sound they make during heavy rains.