As the price of wood rises, more and more builders are considering cold formed steel (CFS) as an alternative to lumber.
People are naturally demanding more living space following the Covid lockdowns, after spending so much time living on top of each other. During the lockdowns the retail market saw a huge increase in demand for DIY materials, as home improvement projects rocketed worldwide. This contributed to the current shortages we are experiencing in lumber.
Challenges emerged for the building trade with rapid jumps in material prices and soaring labor costs. Lumber prices have skyrocketed more than 300% since April 2020, according to the National Association of Home Builders (NAHB). That adds nearly $36,000 to the cost of an average new home. Surveys conducted by the NAHB found more than 90% of builders reported experiencing shortages in construction materials, and a survey of single-family home builders reported an average increase in the price of materials of 26.1% during the past 12 months. It is also becoming increasingly difficult to find skilled construction workers and this can slow down projects and drive-up labor costs.
While lumber has long been the dominant material for housing, cold formed steel provides a better option for cost savings and durability. CFS frames, joists and trusses have gained a reputation for reducing construction time and costs for mid-rise structures. They bring the same benefits to smaller single-family home builds.
Cold formed steel frames and components are produced and fabricated from structural quality steel coils and are shaped at an ambient temperature using roll-forming machines. They can be produced in large quantities and at high speed with consistent quality and precision. The panels are often assembled off-site and delivered ready for installation. Design-led construction minimizes the need for highly skilled labor. Fewer workers are required on-site as installation is quick and easy with basic training requirements. An added benefit is a safer on-site work environment.
Cost saving benefits that come with cold formed steel include:
- Rapid production at speed
- Fast and easy on-site installation
- Design-led means less need for on-site skilled labor
- The fact that the frames are lighter than wood make them easier to handle on-site
- There is less wasted material, as each piece is made to exact specifications during the manufacturing stage
- Steel frames don’t absorb moisture which speeds up the project build compared to more traditional construction methods, where downtime happens during bad weather
Cold formed steel allows for faster and accurate construction turnaround, with fewer delays than traditional materials while addressing the labor shortage, resulting in a reduction in construction costs. As lumber prices continue to rise, an alternative needs to be considered - cold formed steel is the answer.