Light steel has been
used in commercial construction for many years. In
the past decade it has been used more and more in
residential construction. Steel studs construction
has gained in popularity because trees aren't cut
to make studs, they also are price stable and don't
fluctuate as much as lumber. When lumber prices are
up steel studs are an attractive option.
Although wood framing and steel framing are similar
there are important differences. The main difference
is the method of attachment of the components. Wood
components are nailed and steel components are generally
Another aspect of steel framing is that bearing components
must "line-up" in other words the carpenter
must lay out the floor walls and roof so that trusses
sit directly above a stud. Steel studs are strong
but they don't have the load bearing or shear capacity
of wood studs until they are fastened together with
Should you consider using light steel framing for
your next house? That really depends. Most likely
you will pay more using steel studs because finding
qualified subs may be difficult. You will reap the
benefits outlined above. However, you will also have
some disadvantages too. And if you are considering
steel studs to save trees you'll probably be disappointed
to learn that most environmentalist aren't all that
enthusiastic about steel studs because of the mining
process and the pollution created by steel processing
plants. Trees are a renewable resource; iron ore must
be mined from the earth.
This site has all the information necessary for anyone
interested in using steel framing. The information
is fairly technical but extensive.
Here is an article that discusses the thermal challenges
that steel framing presents.
Here is a homepage from a builder in Northwest Indiana
who specializes in residential steel frame construction.