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Steel Frame Homes: What You Need To Know

Steel Frame Homes: What You Need To Know

Steel frame homes are a non-conventional residence that uses steel for its structural support compared to its traditional counterpart, wooden frames. However, with this type of steel being highly customizable, it is easy to conceal traces of it with other materials such as brick, concrete or even wood.

What Is a Steel Frame Home?

Pros and Cons of Steel Framing
Pros Cons
Fire and Weather Resistant Poor Efficiency
Durable Corrosion
Sustainable Reduced On-Site Flexibility
Fire and Weather Resistant Thermal Conductivity
Customizable Noise Transmission

A steel frame home is a residence that uses steel frames as its structural support. Traditionally, home construction uses wooden frames for structural support. However, with the increasing need for stability, durability and versatility, steel frames can provide economical and long-lasting solutions.

Light gauge steel is the standard material in homes and buildings that utilize steel frames. Compared to other types of structural steel, it is not bulky or heavy, increasing possibilities for architects, contractors, developers and homeowners.

Pros of Steel Framing


Historically, steel has seen industrial transformations making it into one of the highest-quality materials for contemporary construction. Scientists and engineers developed new steel alloys in the early 20th century, and these alloys were more durable and corrosion-resistant, making them useful for construction. Most recently, processing techniques like cold-rolling (applied in producing sheet metals and wires) and heat-treating (strengthens steel to become more durable) make steel one of the most reliable and flexible of construction materials today. Choosing steel frames for a home yields many benefits, as listed below.


One major benefit is that steel is cheaper and more efficient than wood. Wood, as a renewable resource, can be grown, but it takes more time to produce them, unlike steel which can be readily manufactured and sustainably recycled. Additionally, wood processing involves cutting for transportability, a process that inevitably sees waste byproducts that require additional time to process separately. Steel can be prefabricated (prefab steel) with efficient machinery and automation and later transported on-site for convenient assembly, allowing for better concurrent and economical workflows.


Steel’s inherent ductile property gives it the ability to endure great force without breaking. Because of this, steel frame homes wield durability to withstand earthquakes and strong winds. It can also withstand falling trees, car accidents and incidents of comparable physical impact. As a manufactured material, it also endures general wear and tear. Other construction materials, such as wood, typically can’t withstand any of the above.


Another benefit of steel is that it is sustainable. Steel components go to processing at facilities where they get shredded into smaller pieces to be melted and removed of impurities before getting formed into new steel. Steel production furnaces have also improved energy efficiency over the years, consuming less energy than early industrial furnaces and reducing gas emissions.

Fire and Weather Resistant

Construction steel is a non-combustible material that does not burn or spread flames. Its inherent resistance properties can help contain flames and prevent them from starting in the first place. Steel also contains inherent moisture and humidity resistance properties, so it does not warp, rot or decay, making for an ideal material for building a mold-resistant home.


Contractors can cut and form steel frames to meet any specifications, and advanced computer-aided design and manufacturing technologies guide this process for utmost precision. They are also modifiable, making for easier expansions. Also, steel frames work with other construction materials like brick, cement and wood, allowing for better design flexibility in architectural aesthetics.

Cons of Steel Framing

Steel framing, like all construction materials, is not without its cons. Some of these cons are poor efficiency, corrosion and reduced on-site flexibility.

Poor Efficiency

Steel has the inherent property of high thermal conductivity and transfers heat and cold considerably faster than other materials like wood. The rapid heat gain and loss can lead to energy inefficiencies in the home, but additional insulation can aid this issue. For example, fiberglass insulation is an inexpensive solution to install between framings to better regulate indoor temperature.


While modern steel is corrosion-resistant by way of protective coatings, these coatings may wear off over time. Corrosion risks may also stem from improper installation in an inadequate environment (such as within a water leak). However, specific steels, such as galvanized steel and stainless steel, have inherent corrosive resistant properties that significantly reduce the risk of corrosion. Regular maintenance of protective coatings also ensures that corrosion risks are minimal.

Reduced On-Site Flexibility

While prefab steel is efficient, it may be challenging to adjust its dimensions and shape on-site. Addressing these issues is costly and time inefficient. Proper planning and effective communication between design, construction and manufacturing teams may reduce errors in the fabrication process.

Wood Studs vs. Metal Studs

Now that you know about the pros and cons of steel framing detailed above, how do metal studs compare with wood studs?


Wood Stud Framing

Construction professionals must use wood stud framing when building the foundational structures in walls, floors and roofs. While framing techniques differ depending on the regional regulations and construction teams, framing with wood studs typically looks like the following:

  1. Preparing and marking the layout — Make a detailed layout of the structure that illustrates the dimensions and placement of it. The layout should also detail the openings and corners of the structure.
  2. Installing the studs — Wood studs are installed with nails or screws to secure them in place and are connected to other studs with fasteners at each connection point to establish stability. Structural bracing will also be installed around connection points to maintain structure and establish wind and force resistance.
  3. Check — Once the framing components get installed, the structural foundation should be aligned perfectly with a level tool. Also check for structural weakness in the fasteners and bracings around the connection points. On a compliance level, the framing should meet local building regulations, such as fire blocking.


Pro Tip for Framing with Wood: Always use high-quality lumber for wood framing. Sturdy lumber provides the best structural integrity, and construction teams should avoid any cracks and warping in the lumber to determine quality.

Recommended tools: Hammer/nail gun, framing nails, saw, level, straightedge, measuring tape

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Metal Stud Framing

Like wood stud framing, metal studs are the components in the foundational structures in walls, floors and roofs. Metal studs notably offer durability, resistance and stability advantages compared to wood studs. Like wood studs, framing and installation techniques will vary, and framing will follow regional regulations. Framing with metal studs would typically look like the following:

  1. Preparing and marking the layout — Like wood framing, make a detailed layout of the structure, and illustrate its dimensions and placement. Mark the layout to also detail the openings and corners of the structure.
  2. Installing the studs — Installation will require screws, fasteners and bracings for the connection points. Manufacturers will typically have placement guidelines for these screws and fasteners for easy installation.
  3. Check — Once installed, the structural foundation should be rechecked for perfect alignment with a level tool. Check the fasteners and bracings around connection points for structural weaknesses. On a compliance level, the framing should meet local building regulations, such as fire blocking.


Recommended tools: Hammer/nail gun, circular saw, level, aviation snips, measuring tape

Pro Tip: Unlike wood stud framing, sound travels more readily within metal stud framing structures. Consider installing sound-dampening materials such as fiberglass or mineral wool between the studs for soundproofing.

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FAQ: Steel Framing


There is a lot to know about steel framing. Below are some frequently asked questions regarding steel frame homes.

What Does a Steel Erector Do?

A steel erector is a construction professional who assembles and installs structural steel in construction projects. Steel erectors align structural steel materials to fit engineer and architect-designated specifications. They work most closely with construction, architectural and engineering teams in the construction cycle.

Is It Cheaper to Build a Steel Frame House?

It may be cheaper or more expensive to build a steel frame home, and the easiest way to know is to consult a construction professional. The construction of steel frame homes typically yields higher upfront costs yet offers better long-term savings due to their durability. Construction professionals will also help detail the cost-effectiveness of constructing a steel frame home relative to the market price of homes and materials.

Can You Get a Mortgage on a Steel Frame House?

Yes, getting a mortgage on a steel frame house is possible. Steel frame homes have better structural reliability, and lenders generally consider that over the construction materials. However, it is advisable to consult with mortgage lenders to understand the full range of options.

How Long Do Steel Frame Houses Last?

While lifespans of steel frame houses vary depending on maintenance, location, climate and construction, steel houses typically endure beyond 50 years. The longevity of a steel frame house will largely depend on regular maintenance.

Can You Insulate Steel Frame Homes?

Yes, you can insulate steel frame homes. Fiberglass, wool and even spray foam insulation is possible between studs. Insulated steel panels are also an option to install onto the frames.

Are Steel Frame Houses Worth It?

Steel frame homes are a rising convenience in housing due to their reliability, versatility, cost-effectiveness, durability and more. Steel frame home owners can expect them to endure beyond 50 years with regular maintenance. If you are a prospective buyer hoping to save money in the long run while also enjoying the benefits of safety and assuredness, then a steel frame house could be right for you.

Rent Framing Equipment

While a non-conventional residence, steel frame homes are increasingly becoming more common due to their durability and cost-effectiveness. Construction teams, developers and architects greatly benefit from steel frames’ contributions to easier workflows, and homeowners enjoy the benefits of a home that can endure the elements and all the wear and tear.

Steel frame homes or any other type of home construction is no easy feat, and it requires the right equipment and an exhaustive checklist of needs. If you’re starting on your next construction project, the importance of a clear and safe workplace is paramount. Learn more about how our construction site services can help you optimize your workflows.


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