Steel framing is slowly increasingly their market share in new home construction. But is it a good alternative to more traditional methods of construction?
Steel framing is mostly an alternative to traditional wood-frame construction. It doesn't make much sense to compare steel-frame with masonry construction.
So, the advantages and the disadvantages listed in this page for steel framing has a background the wood-frame construction.Environmental advantages and disadvantages
Steel studs are 100% recyclable and light-gauge steel framing has about 20-25% recycled content. Steel-framing is often seen as a way of saving our forests, but it also contains a lot of virgin material…. On the other hand, new wood framing materials are mostly engineered products, made with agricultural and wood wastes; and wood may come from sustainable harvested forests (FSC certified), while steel production is very energy intensive.
Advantages of steel-frame construction
Strength, durability and weight: steel studs are lighter and stronger than wood products (contrary to what most people think, steel studs weights 30-50% less than wood) .
Size and quality: steel studs come in various sizes, responding to most common standard practices and sizes of wood studs;
Termite and fire-resistance: steel is termite-resistant and fairly resistant to fire (though not fireproof; once a fire declared, steel studs can collapse).
Moisture resistance: steel is obviously moisture-resistant.
Interior partition walls: steel studs are a good choice for interior partition walls, where the conductivity of steel doesn't matter. In other words: steel framing (for interior walls) can combine with wood-frame or other building system. That’s a way of overcoming the low thermal resistance of steel, while benefiting from its advantages.
Thermal conductivity: heat transfer hrough the steel studs can reduce the overall R-value of walls by 50%.
The only way of overcoming this downside is through high levels of insulated sheathing: a thick and continuous layer of a foam board all over the walls…
Construction times: since nails can't be used with steel, attaching sheathing and drywall and wood components to steel will slow construction times; connections become stronger, but screws and other fasteners have to be used instead of nails, which increases construction times.