What are steel frame homes? And what makes them different from other types of homes? The main difference is that the home’s frame is made from steel, not wood–which is the most common material for house frames.
While wood frames have distinct advantages over steel ones, steel has benefits as well, some of which might surprise you. Did you know, for example, that steel is recyclable?
In this article, we’ll weigh pros and cons to the different materials–steel, wood, and concrete–as well as explore the concept of steel frame homes more generally.
Home or House Frame
In the past, steel homes are considered cheap and are only used to save money on construction. However, this belief has changed today because steel is now believed to be a high-quality construction material that comes with great qualities that are suitable for modern construction.
We spoke to a representative from Sheldon Bosley Knight, who is an estate agent and knows about modern houses being built today, they say, “Steel frame construction used to be primarily used for large, simple structures, such as garages, large agricultural buildings and warehouses – as well as high-rise buildings. This is how steel frame construction is still understood in popular belief, but it is now also used for a wide range of other types of development, including offices, factories, schools, public buildings and some residential dwellings. Steel frame houses are becoming extremely popular and in the future, we might see more steel frame houses being built.”
The frame for a typical home consists of a concrete foundation, either at ground level with a concrete slab or a basement with a concrete floor and walls made of a material such as brick or cement.
A typical frame sits on top of the foundation and consists of the following basic components (though note that this list is not exhaustive and components will vary based on the house structure and landscape):
These make up the fundamental structure of a home. Most other materials are used to cover, trim, decorate, and insulate it.
The three materials used to frame houses are solid wood (timber), steel, and concrete. These materials have very different properties, yet all serve well in framing a house. Sometimes engineered wood (composite) is used as well.
Let’s look at wood, steel, and concrete one-by-one:
This is the most common material used in a house frame. It has also been used much longer than the other two, going back millennia. Wood has always been abundant and easily sourced and reproduced. This is changing, though.
One of the best woods to use in your house is Acacia wood. This wood can be used in furniture, flooring, and etc. Here is a complete guide on Acacia Wood.
Most homes are still being built with wood frames. However, timber conservation efforts have had a significant impact on raising lumber prices.” At some point, a shift might need to occur.
That shift would be to one of the other materials used in house framing.
Even though concrete is the material used for most home foundations, it might seem surprising to hear of it being used to build entire houses. Also, unlike wood and steel, with concrete as a building material, the house itself is the frame. There are several types of Building Materials in the market, and you can follow at https://bestreviews.tips/building-materials_219102/ to get more information.
Concrete houses have some striking designs, though–whether ones that emulate more traditional houses or those meant to highlight the properties of the concrete itself.
Concrete also is a very flexible material–not only in terms of the shape it can take but also its protective properties. A particularly protective concrete-based material is Insulating Concrete Forms (ICFs).
According to Bob Vila: “With this system, concrete is poured into permanent forms. The forms are made of insulating material, either interlocking blocks, panels, or planks…
The panel and planks are interconnected with plastic or metal ties and the blocks with special grooves or interlocking teeth.”
Now, we’ll consider the attribute of steel frame homes in detail.
Steel Frame Homes: Pros and Cons
Steel frame homes are structured more like those with wood frames, meaning they’re built by assembling various components–not poured or molded like concrete or concrete-based material. This is the framing method of choice for architecture firms in Toronto, New York, and other prominent North American cities.
Much like commercial steel frame commercial buildings, which have been built for many years, steel frame homes use I-beams in place of wooden studs, joists, rafters, and other components. In fact, often they’re built entirely with metal. The architecture of Lahore Smart City is also developed with a steel frame that makes the housing structure unique. While many other advantages, steel frame structures are recyclable as well.
Steel frame homes are only slightly more expensive than their wood frame counterparts. “A 1,500-square-foot, wood-framed home priced at $120,000 might cost $126,000 to $138,000 with a steel frame.”
Pros of Steel Frame Construction
Steel is durable, waterproof, earthquake-resistant, and fire-resistant. Steel is also impervious to termites. Of course, these attributes refer to the steel itself, not necessarily any materials attached to it, such as drywall.
Steel is moldable–not for an entire house, as with concrete, but for special parts. And steel beams can be cut with a metal saw or a blowtorch. They can also be cut with a water jet. Read more about this surprising technique if you’re interested.
Steel homes provide people with a lot of customization options. Steel frame pairs well with brick siding, or other materials such as stucco, cement, wood, and vinyl. You can also paint or use other embellishments to add color and texture to the steel siding to make it look like other materials.
If you use steel sidings and frame, you can simply add home additions or extensions without worrying about where to discard demolished materials. You can also opt for pre-fabricated kits that are designed to fit together, reducing the tedious process of making measurements.
Steel frames and siding can be painted, recycled, and reused unlike cement and wood that end up in landfills.
Cons of Steel Frame Construction
A steel frame home is not more energy-efficient than a home with a wood frame. “Steel is much more of a conductive material than wood. Therefore, “the most conductive path in a steel frame home is the steel itself.
Heat will move quickly from inside the home to the steel studs in the walls. In addition to leaving you cold, thermal bridging can create black staining on the cold portions of the walls.” This means higher heating and air conditioning bills as well.
One effective way for a homeowner can counteract these problems is to wrap insulation board around the steel beams themselves, in addition to the insulation typically placed between studs. Of course cavity wall insulation is energy efficiency and cost saving make it very popular.
Another option for building with a steel frame: “many construction companies offer hybrid steel/wood buildings, which take advantage of the strength, durability and support benefits offered by steel, paired with the insulatory properties of wood.”
Are Steel Frame Homes the Future?
Yes, even though they may not be the choice of every home builder, we believe there will be more steel frame homes in the future. Given steel’s recyclability, there are environmental advantages to using this material in homes.
And homeowners surely will come to appreciate steel’s ability to resist severe weather and other perils. Already, solutions to some of steel’s drawbacks have been put forward. Steel’s long-term durability and overall value are unchallenged as well.
So keep your eyes open for more steel frame homes–that is, if you can even tell them apart from the more traditionally built homes you see out there. And be sure to take a look at our blog for more innovative home-building ideas.
Steel frames used in homes are a practical choice as they’re simple and fast to build, not to mention cost-effective. Homes built using steel frames are fire-resistant, durable, pest-proof, and earth-friendly. Many young people choose this material for their home construction because they have a contemporary look as well as other features and benefits. Steel homes also offer versatile customization options. There’s little doubt that steel is the preferred future home.