Timber has long been the framing material of choice for buildings. A sturdy and familiar material, it has been used on structures all over the world for hundreds of years. However, steel framing is fast becoming a popular alternative that is increasingly being specified.
In this blog, we discuss a few of the advantages of steel framing and how cold formed steel (CFS) framing can benefit your next project.
Being too slow to design, engineer and construct buildings impacts profit margins. Time delays are a major factor that has turned many developers, architects, and contractors from timber to steel framing. The short lead times that customers demand mean that speed of construction is essential – an area where CFS framing excels.
For engineers and architects, steel framing offers significant time savings during design. Structural steel framing software can enable frame detailing and engineering to be completed in parallel as well as quicker than timber frame design. For a 250m² house, the timber frame design process can take between 13–20 days, whereas using cold formed steel framing software can reduce this to just 3-5 days – a saving of up to 15 days. Value engineering can also be done using steel design software, which will then create detailed framing plans in a fraction of the time compared to timber designs.
When using timber frame construction, highly skilled labor is required to construct the frames on-site – labor that is hard to find and expensive to retain. With steel framing, the need for on-site highly skilled labor is reduced as the skill is required at the design stage. While many manufacturers and contractors are concerned that it will be more difficult to train workers to construct steel framing systems, the reality is that it is very easy to train staff – often, easier than timber framing, especially when using an automated construction system.
Laborers just need to follow a kit-set approach where all the components are already the exact size and just need to be pieced together without any cutting or measuring. Being around a third lighter than timber, lightweight steel framing is also easier to maneuver on the job site, which speeds up the build.
For developers and contractors, metal framing studs offer a way to avoid budget and schedule overruns. Not only is steel manufactured to the exact sizes required, holes for cables and fixings can also be pre-punched, virtually eliminating cutting operations on-site. This precision also means less re-work from replacing warped or non-flush members, or mistakes made with timber components during construction. It is also easier to quantify, forecast and calculate construction time, reducing the risk of schedule overruns and material quantity errors.
Overall, cold formed steel framing is less expensive than timber. The accurate quantities mean that only the required amount of steel is ordered, reducing upfront material costs and waste on-site. Steel also has fewer issues with quality or with a lack of available material, unlike timber which can have defects and material shortages.
The Bottom Line
Although a traditional method, timber has many costs and uncertainties and requires highly skilled labor at all stages of the construction process. Steel is the most cost-efficient, time-saving and accurate way to construct buildings. With steel framing, highly skilled labor is confined to the design stage, reducing the overall cost while speeding up the construction process on-site.
Using steel combined with a complete end-to-end automated construction system makes steel framing even more superior. For example, with FRAMECAD Structure, frame detailing and real-time engineering can be completed alongside each other, and workshop drawings created rapidly after engineer sign-off. This design-led process enables 100% accurate steel framing to be manufactured for cost-efficient, state-of-the-art construction with minimal construction time.
FRAMECAD has re-invented construction. To find out more about the Way the World Constructs and to have a detailed discussion about how FRAMECAD can improve your business, book a consultation with a FRAMECAD cold formed steel expert.
*This article was originally published on 28 February 2019 and has since been updated.