Steel residential construction – A stack of steel roof battens, they are cheaper, straighter, longer, less waste, lighter, easier and quicker to fix than the hardwood 3″x2″ that they have replaced.
I will just list a few generalisations here, and go into more detail on the other pages in this section.
Steel has the highest strength to weight ratio of all the other comparable building materials. There are materials that are stronger, lighter, corrosion proof etc. but we are talking about houses here, not Stealth Bombers.
Section size, for a given span and loading, a steel section will take up less space. It may be a steel beam like the one above, that because of it’s less depth than a timber beam doing the same job, will give greater head height. Also compared to timber it takes up less space in transport.
Weight, The cold rolled, or roll formed lighter sections, for example, wall frame studs and plate, fascias, ceiling and roof battens are sometimes many times lighter than the timber that they replace.
Length, steel comes in stock lengths, but the ability to weld sections together, with sometimes invisible joins, means that long continuous lengths are possible in the average house. Giving greater spanning capacity over supports. Again with roll formed sections the manufacturers produce the product in lengths to suit a typical job, and the available transport. For example, a popular wall frame height is 2700mm. So the roll formers produce standard lengths of 8100mm to get three studs out of a length with no waste. They will of course produce it longer or shorter if the need is there. I once fixed two steel fascias that were 22M long. No joins, rolled on site.
Steel residential construction – Steel connection detail, steelwork prefabricated off site and galvanised before fixing.
Fire resistance. A fairly obvious advantage over timber.
Termite resistance. A real advantage where I live, but also in many parts of the world.
Low wastage. Because of the ability to weld steel sections, small lengths are not thrown away. Most welding shops have piles of offcuts that are regularly picked through for small jobs or for adding to longer lengths. All this apart, when steel does get thrown out, it is still recyclable. Many times with timber we have bought longer lengths, knowing that we would be throwing maybe 20% to waste, because the correct size was not available.
Stable Because it is inorganic, steel will not rot, shrink,twist or split. For the most part all steel sections and made up components will retain their shape during the building process and after. They will not rack out of square and their joints will not loosen up.
Steel residential construction lends itself to prefabrication for remote housing locations and also is adaptable to total on site fabrication.
Steel residential construction – The whole of this complex house frame was fabricated off site, sent to be hot dip galvanised and assembled on site with crane, nuts and bolts and spanners.