The Value of Cold-formed Steel in Today’s Market
In today’s market, there are many types of framing materials, yet one material stands out as superior: Cold-formed steel (CFS). The value of CFS is found in its use of top-quality alloys and corrosion-resistant finishes, thus creating a strong, durable product, which outlasts most other building materials.
Other desirable qualities of CFS include resilience in extreme climates, virtually maintenance-free; and the ability to create attractive building products, all of which increase a building’s resale value.1
According to the Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety (IBHS), “Severe weather disrupts lives, displaces families, and drives financial loss.”2 When choosing to build, or rebuild, the value of CFS is more than an aesthetic decision, it is based on the following attributes:
- Defying the Elements
According to the Metal Roofing Alliance, customers save as much as 40% in annual energy costs1. Minimizing fire risk by using cold-formed steel can also reduce builder’s insurance costs incurred by construction companies, which can then be passed onto building owners.
During the initial construction phase of any wood structure, there is an increased fire risk as fire-proof materials are generally not installed until later in the process. While there is a slightly extra up-front cost, when compared to wood, steel more than makes up the cost savings in building maintenance and insurance benefits.3
Cost-savings are also realized through shorter construction cycles with panelized CFS methods as well as less waste than other building materials.
Defying the Elements
Extreme weather can wreak havoc on most traditional building materials; however, steel has a unique ability to defy the elements. According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), “there were 14 separate billion-dollar weather and climate disasters that impacted the United States during 2018.4” Some of these disasters included wildfires, hail storms, tornadoes, hurricanes and more.
The Metal Roofing Alliance suggests that steel is “practically impervious to a wide range of extreme climate conditions.” Take fire for instance, the melting point of cold-formed steel compared to wood is a ratio of about 27:4, thus, “the melting point of steel [is] approximately 2700°F, which means that it will not melt in a building fire, where temperatures average 1000°F and almost never exceed 1800°F. And while the yield strength of steel is reduced at elevated temperatures, modern building codes and fire protection methods take this into account.5”
With severe weather conditions happening across the country, building with the most durable materials possible increases not only the property value but also provides peace of mind.
Many building innovations have been borne out of natural disasters. As a result of devastating earthquakes, SteelNetwork.com reports, “steel is now considered one of the most capable building systems when it comes to handling seismic forces.4”
The durability of steel can be attributed to its chemical composition and inorganic matter, which resists termites, pests mold and rot. Protective layers such as zinc and aluminum-zinc (AL-ZN) coatings add to the long-term durability of steel, which decreases decay and improves overall lifespan to well beyond standard building materials. In a study conducted by the Metal Construction Association (MCA), they’ve reported, “55% AL-ZN alloy-coated steel panel roofs (also known as Galvalume® coated metal roofs) experienced corrosion rates that project service lives ranging from 60-375 years, depending on the climate and precipitation PH.6”
In addition, “of all commonly used construction materials, steel has the highest strength-to-weight ratio. When cold-formed steel sheet is formed into a C-shape, like a stud, the bends act as stiffeners and increase the strength of the steel sheet dramatically, providing a strength-to-weight ratio that is up to seven times greater than that of dimensional lumber.7”
Architects and engineers like the consistency of steel because it doesn’t have the same issues with expansion and contraction as wood, or other materials, which can lead to cracks, warps, and other defects in both internal and external finishes. Architects and designers also enjoy the flexibility of CFS as it can be used in longer spans and provides more creativity in the design process. A beautiful, yet durable building is considered a win-win for everyone.
The Steel Network reports, “65 million tons of steel are recycled annually, and steel coils used by manufacturers typically contain a minimum of 25 percent recycled material.3” Recycling steel is an easy, efficient process. It is 100% recyclable1 and can be recycled an unlimited number of times. Wood, on the other hand, is a time-consuming recycling process.
“Steel is the most recycled material on the planet, more than all other materials combined. Steel retains an extremely high overall recycling rate, which in 2014, stood at 86 percent. The amazing metallurgical properties of steel allow it to be recycled continually with no degradation in performance, and from one product to another.8” as reported by the Steel Recycling Institute.
Demand for greater transparency into green building options has led architects and builders alike to recognize the direction in which the green building envelope has been heading. With the advent of the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) and other green building programs, incentives, such as LEED and the Living Building Challenge have defined credits to be earned for green building ratings for CFS projects.
Steel is a versatile material. Architects looking to make bold statements have been seen all over the world using steel in their designs. As an everyday use, CFS can easily complement any building project.
For your next building project, consider Cold-formed Steel as it will save you more over traditional materials, it’s built for durability and strength as well as creates a more sustainable building envelope.
1. MRA (Metal Roofing Alliance), Metal Roofing Benefits https://www.metalroofing.com/residential-metal-roofing/benefits/
2. IBHS (Insurance Institute for Business and Home Safety) https://ibhs.org/
3. The Steel Network, 5 Reasons Cold-Formed Steel is Better than Wood for Mid-Rise Construction https://www.steelnetwork.com/Blog/BlogDetails/5-Reasons-Cold-Formed-Steel-is-Better-than-Wood-for-Mid-Rise-Construction
4. NOAA (National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration), Billion-Dollar Weather and Climate Disasters: Overview https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/billions/
5. SFIA (Steel Framing Industry Association), Unparalleled Fire Safety https://sfia.memberclicks.net/fire-safety
6. MCA (Metal Construction Association), New Study Verifies Steel Roofs Can Last As Long As The Buildings They Cover: Typically 60 Years Or More https://blog.metalconstruction.org/tag/life-expectancy/
7. SFIA (Steel Framing Industry Association), Strong and Resilient https://sfia.memberclicks.net/strong-and-resilient
8. Steel Recycling Institute, Steel is the World’s Most Recycled Material https://www.steelsustainability.org/recycling