Advantages of Lightweight Steel Framing Construction
Steel has a long record of use in the construction industry due to its strength, durability and value. Lightweight steel framing (LSF) brings these attributes plus many others to the Industrial, Commercial, and Institutional (ICI) marketplace.
Consider the following:
LSF historically has been a cost-effective form of construction. Manufactured from sheet steel on continuous roll forming mills, the process is fast, further reducing turn-around times and the need to stock a large amount of manufactured product.
Architecturally Attractive and Flexible:
With LSF, the designer has extensive choices of finishes to achieve the desired aesthetics for the project.
Some of the exterior wall finishes commonly combined with LSF is:
• Pre-finished metal panels
• Portland cement plaster (stucco) on metal lath
• Exterior insulation and (EFIS) systems
• Brick, stone, ceramic tile and concrete veneers
• Pre-finished plywood
"Lightweight" is in the product name for a reason. Roll formed LSF sections have a higher strength-to-weight ratio and, therefore, are lighter than wood or masonry of comparable size. This means less building mass. This has a positive impact on the building's seismic resistance, it may allow economical spread footing foundations and it may also allow upward expansion in a building originally not designed for an extra floor. In curtain wall construction where weight affects the proportioning of spandrels, columns and footings compare the weight of steel construction with masonry backup and precast concrete.
Ease of Assembly:
LSF is easily handled in the shop and on the jobsite. Many roll formed sections can be moved and lifted by hand or by low capacity mechanical lifts, possibly allowing for smaller and less expensive job site hoisting equipment.
Wall, floor and roof panels can be easily and quickly assembled in a factory-type setting or on site. Panelizing using hydraulic seating of the LSF members will assure minimal settling and allow the use of self-drilling screws for connections. Field erection of factory assembled panels is generally more timely and efficient compared to wet masonry. LSF panels can be easily highway transported limited only by length and width restrictions not load limits. Controlled factory or site panelizing along with the inherently stable and accurate steel sections enhances construction quality.
Cold weather is not an issue with LSF; therefore the construction season can be extended into the full year.
Non-Combustibility and Fire Resistant:
Steel is a non-combustible material and will not add fuel to a building fire. As such, LSF is permitted in a greater number of occupancies with less floor area restrictions and sprinkler system requirements compared to combustible construction according to the National Building Code of Canada. Some insurance underwriters may recognize the benefit of non-combustibility in reduced premiums. Many floor and wall assemblies made from LSF have been tested and several additional designs have achieved significant fire ratings.
With its high strength and protective coatings, LSF is impressively durable. Standard coatings on LSF in properly constructed, environmentally controlled buildings will perform over one hundred years and more.
Reliable and Healthy:
LSF is a reliable product that will not shrink, warp, swell, creep or otherwise move which enhances and maintains construction quality. LSF is non-organic and therefore it cannot rot or support unhealthy infestations of mould and fungus growth. LSF is not hospitable to, nor will vermin such as termites and rodents damage it.
Thermal Performance and Vapour Control Solutions:
LSF when combined with other materials will make economic and efficient building envelope systems for the effective control of thermal transfer and moisture movement.
Almost Limitless Design Freedom:
LSF can be used for almost any building construction. LSF in ground floor exterior axial loadbearing walls is limited to about six building storeys; however, this limit is continually expanding with advances in roll forming manufacturing. Span lengths will vary by section size (depth and thickness of steel member).