Why steel framing?
Very simply, a frame made of steel is a high-quality product. It represents value for money and brings peace of mind. A steel frame is light and strong, it is fungus-proof and it will not shrink or warp.
Is steel framing expensive?
No. Steel framing is very competitive on price, particularly when you consider its quality! A steel frame gives value for money. It has many advantages over traditional build or wooden houses. The fact is that discerning buyers are increasingly demanding steel frames.
Are there any long-term cost advantages?
Yes. There are ongoing savings for the householder because steel will not burn, some insurers offer attractive discounts on their premiums for steel-framed homes.
What underlies the quality of a steel frame?
The components are precision manufactured and assembled to very tight tolerances using advanced techniques. Computer-aided design, computer-controlled manufacture and advanced engineering all ensure that the home-buyer achieves the design he or she wants, and that the installation is quick and easy. Strength and performance are engineered into the frame.
How much flexibility do I have with design?
Freedom of floor-plan and architectural style is practically unlimited. Steel frame manufacturers and fabricators can produce virtually any one- or two-storey house design. Furthermore, it is possible to produce designs in steel that are difficult with other materials. By taking advantage of this feature, the owner can often build with less expense than by using more conventional materials.
Will the house framing system I choose be approved by councils and lending authorities?
Yes. Engineers’ details to satisfy council requirements are provided as a matter of routine, and lending authorities see steel framing as an excellent long-term investment.
Can I build on piers or a concrete slab?
Either! There are several steel floor systems available for pier-design. Direct fixing to concrete slabs is also very widely used. On sloping sites where limits have been imposed on the maximum depth of cut and fill, it can be far more economical and environmentally friendly to use raised steel flooring than a concrete slab.
Do homes with steel look different?
To the discerning eye, yes, they look better. Walls, ceilings and roofs do not have ripples or bumps in them, there are no "nail pops" in the plasterboard walls, and there are no shrinkage problems in intermediate floor joists. Roofs of steel-framed homes do not sag over time, even under concrete tiles, so the finished job keeps looking good.
I have heard that steel frames are made of thin steel. How do I know they will be strong enough?
The properties of steel are known and consistent. Steel-framing components are designed around those properties with an extra allowance included for safety. Most modern systems use high tensile steel components with appropriate jointing methods, and are engineered to pass strict performance tests.
Will a steel frame perform in any climate?
Steel expands or contracts as the temperature changes. Is this a problem?
Whether a steel frame is mechanically jointed or welded, in a properly constructed and insulated home thermally induced movement is not an issue. Steel framing expands and contracts at rates not too dissimilar from the other materials used in building.
Why won’t a steel frame rust?
Steel frames are made of steel protected against corrosion by a hot-dipped metallic coating of either a zinc-aluminium alloy, or almost pure zinc (galvanised). In external applications such as roofing these products are exposed to the elements and have excellent durability, so in less exposed applications such as inside the building envelope they weather more slowly. Where there are drill holes and cut edges the galvanic action, or sacrificial protection, of the coatings protects the exposed steel edge against corrosion.
Does lightening-strike affect a steel-framed home more than a timber one?
No. Because steel creates a positive earth, the lightning has less effect. The energy is conducted straight to the ground, and is not released destructively within the frame as in conventional framing or cladding.
Is a steel frame safe when exposed to a live electric wire?
Yes. Steel frames are safe because they are earthed. It is a requirement that all new housing be fitted with circuit breaking safety devices, so there is little chance of you touching anything live. A broken or pierced wire in a timber frame can remain live and leaking current can cause troublesome faults and fire risk.
How does a steel frame perform in a fire?
When a fire breaks out in a building the safety of individuals is paramount, and in this respect frame performance is of secondary importance. Unless quickly brought under control, a fire can intensify and spread at frightening speed and therefore it is most important to have warning devices installed and for people to be able to get out of the building as quickly as possible. Smoke and heated air and/or asphyxiating gases are responsible for about 75% of fatalities in house fires. A steel frame will not burn. It will not therefore contribute to the fire or its spreading, and will not release smoke and carbon dioxide. Electrical faults cause many fires in wall cavities. An electrical fault cannot ignite a steel frame. If fire gets into the ceiling and ignites timber trusses it can spread very rapidly to the rest of the house. In a bushfire the point of ignition is often the roof cavity when burning embers are blown in under the eaves or tiles. House fires have been known to break through ceilings into the roof cavity. A steel roof truss cannot be ignited in either of these ways.
I am a builder. Why should I build in steel?
Steel frames represent the future of house framing. Continual product improvements and consumer awareness means that demand for steel-framed homes will keep increasing. People are more conscious than ever of the ever-increasing threat from termites. You can build the major termite management into the building, rather than add it on. A steel-framed house is a quality product that delivers to the customer long-term peace of mind and cost savings. Callbacks are reduced and your reputation can be enhanced. Although steel frames require different techniques they are quick and easy to erect. Because steel has consistent strength and complies with strict standards and tight tolerances, every stud is a good stud. Steel frames are lightweight and easy to handle, time is not lost sorting to select suitable pieces, there is no need to straighten framework on site, and wastage of material is reduced.
As a consumer I am very conscious of the environment. Will I be doing the right thing if I use a steel frame?
Yes. All industries have some impact on the environment but most are making concerted efforts to reduce those impacts. The steel industry, the timber industry, and other building materials industries are required to work within government guidelines, which are influenced by international agreements. Attention is often drawn to the carbon dioxide produced when new steel is produced; overlooking the fact that steel is 100% recyclable. Little is also said about the negative impact on the environment of large plantations of introduced species of timber, and the attendant loss of habitat for native species.
What about the energy consumed to make steel compared with say timber?
A steel house frame is only one part of all the materials used in the construction of the house. Further, the total energy used to produce all of the materials in a house has been calculated in some studies at less than 6% of the total energy consumed in the running of the house over its lifetime. Householders can make a much more substantial contribution to the environment through selecting good design, the thoughtful orientation of the building, and the use of building materials and insulation to conserve energy consumed by air conditioning or heating over the life cycle of the home. They can install solar power, and engage in waste recycling. They can minimise the impact of the building on a fragile hillside. On such sites the use of raised steel floors can minimise disturbance to the natural contours of the land and enable better management of storm water run off. Storage of rainwater in tanks can contribute. Also, by using a steel frame and termite-resistant fittings the owner can do away with the ongoing use of chemicals for controlling termites.
Does a steel frame interfere with radio or television reception?
No. Waves pass through the spaces between the studs, allowing the use of all household appliances without any interference.