Reduced construction time, lower costs, and improved durability are among the many benefits.
Steel framing systems – especially those of the cold-formed variety – have become developers’ top choice for mid-rise construction projects. In an era of rapid development and tight project timelines, steel framing systems have gained favour because of their quality, sustainability, and accessibility. However, developers shouldn’t just hop on the trend because it’s popular. It’s important to understand how steel framing systems benefit each project’s specific requirements.
Construction time of the building superstructure
Steel framing systems are unique in that they’re fabricated off-site before the start of a project and the entire steel structure is produced by a single source. This means quick and easy construction, and it means dealing with only one steel fabricator in the event of any problems. This saves considerable time compared to more traditional building materials like wood and concrete.
Limitations in joist span and structural depth
With traditional framing systems (e.g. wood), buildings have a limited structural depth and there’s less flexibility to accommodate requests for larger spaces. For example, let’s say a building needs several large areas of column-free floor space. This is difficult to achieve with only concrete or wood. But with steel framing, longer joist spans between columns can create deeper floor structures. Steel framing systems can also allow for more spacious rooms and wider openings, and they can be used in conjunction with other materials to expand building capabilities.
Durability and Fire Resistance
Whereas wood framing, and other more traditional systems, need to be specially treated to ensure their longevity, steel framing systems are naturally built to last. Steel framing isn’t vulnerable to mold, rot, pests (like termites and ants), or shrinking caused by changes in temperature. Additionally, steel has a “type 2” fire rating, meaning it’s non-combustible. Thus, steel framing systems can withstand fires, and they’re even durable during natural disasters like hurricanes and tornadoes.
Integration with mechanical and electrical systems
The more seamlessly a steel framing system integrates with a building’s mechanical and electrical systems, the sooner a project can be completed. Smooth integration also means the project is more efficient throughout, and it’s easier to achieve compliance with building codes. Modern developments have allowed this integration to take place early in the building process. Mechanical and electrical systems can be integrated during a building’s design phase with the use of Building Information Modeling (BIM) software. This is a 3D model-based software that allows collaboration and efficient planning between construction, architecture, and engineering professionals.
Floor system acoustic ratings
It’s also crucial to consider floor system acoustic ratings when selecting a framing system for a building project. Building acoustics are measured using the STC scale. The scale ranges from 0 to 130, with a soundproof room ranking at 10 and a jet aircraft ranking at 130. The higher the rating, the noisier the space. iSPAN’s TotalJoist system has a 50 STC rating, which is equivalent to a conversation or quiet radio. (Noisy homes and offices rank closer to 70 or 80.) Steel framing makes this acoustic rating possible; more traditional building materials are less adept at controlling noise from the surrounding environment.
On the surface, steel framing systems are a popular and cost-effective way to complete modern building projects. But these systems allow for more flexibility and versatility in building design; they’re more durable than other systems made from wood or concrete; and they ease the processes of system integration and compliance with local regulations. iSPAN’s TotalFraming solution uses state-of-the-art cold-formed steel framing to shorten construction time and produce long-lasting structures for a variety of mid-rise construction projects.
Contact iSPAN today to explore TotalFraming for your next project.