Steel has many great properties that are ideal for builders. Construction materials such as concrete and wood have many practical uses, but steel can often be a more practical and cost-effective building material.
Why are so many homes in Australia constructed with timber then? The short answer is convention. In the past, wood framing was the preferred choice for residential construction because it was cheaper and easier to assemble on-site than steel. Innovations in Australia’s pre-fabricated steel framing industry has led to a reduction in overall cost and can be installed quickly and efficiently.
It’s worth considering that steel is well-known to be strong, but its other benefits may not be so apparent. These five reasons why builders prefer steel framing will help to inform you of some of the key advantages offered by steel compared to other building materials.
1. Greater Structural Integrity
Choosing steel framing systems is the ideal choice in terms of structural integrity. Steel is strong in both compressive as well as tensile strength as opposed to concrete, which is weak in tension. Furthermore, it’s a dense material, meaning that relatively small steel framing can bear proportionately larger loads than other traditional construction materials.
In addition to being strong, steel is a durable and light-weight material. It’s resistant to termites and naturally resistant to fire. Timber pales in comparison to steel for these reasons.
Engineers have also thoroughly tested the properties of steel and it can be manufactured to precise standards. This helps eliminate potential errors on the building site, as the pre-fabricated steel frames will arrive on the job site already meeting the National Construction Code standard.
2. Fast and Easy to Assemble
Modular steel framing can be assembled off-site and delivered just-in-time during the construction project. This enables builders to reduce costs as well as the risk of on-site assembly taking longer than usual due to unforeseen circumstances.
It can also be assembled to the proper dimensions so that builders simply need to install it in situ according to the architect’s plans without the need of making adjustments. Less on-site work means less opportunity for waste, both in materials as well as labour.
On account of its light weight, steel framing often requires less on-site excavation work and therefore smaller foundations are required as compared to concrete. This translates to a lower project cost and a faster construction time.
3. Environmentally Friendly
Less structural elements are required because steel is so strong. Timber and concrete construction requires regularly-spaced intervals of load-bearing walls and supporting columns, which results in more overall building materials being used and therefore greater use of natural resources.
4. Aesthetics and Architecture
Greater strength means that greater spans can be introduced. This frees up a lot of internal space within the edifice and allows architects and builders greater freedom to customise its interior form and functionality.
Due to its malleable nature, steel framing can be customised to meet exact specifications. Architects can make use of this by designing unique and appealing designs for clients which may not be feasible with other materials.
Furthermore, steel has acoustic noise dampening characteristics that can eliminate the creaking common to timber-built homes.
5. Recyclable Material
Steel is 100% recyclable and can be reused indefinitely. In fact, nearly 30% of new steel comes from recycled steel. Used steel is always being recycled and repurposed without losing its load-bearing properties.
As Australia’s pre-fabricated steel framing industry continues to grow, the use and reuse of steel means that less raw materials need to be extracted from the earth than with single-use materials.
Structural steel shouldn’t only be thought of as a building material for large-scale commercial or industrial projects. Residential home construction is trending towards innovative use of modular steel framing and the benefits are demonstrably better than using traditional building materials. To discuss your steel framing options for your upcoming development anywhere in Melbourne, contact the experts at Safeway Steel Frames today.