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FAQs

Below is a list of some of the most commonly asked questions we are asked, along with answers.

Are you a general contractor?

iSPAN Systems is a manufacturer that offers install services. When you work with us on a project, we lead you through a process that includes: a detailed presentation of our systems’ options and benefits; assistance with design and engineering; permit submission; finalization of details before production; manufacturing; project management; and erection of the project. We are not a general contractor, but we are more than happy to connect you with one of our recommended professional installers if needed.

Does your company provide engineered drawings?

At iSPAN Systems, we are an active partner during the design phase of your project. Every project that we take on includes engineered drawings. Every building component that we supply, no matter how big or small, is reviewed by a licensed engineer. Before we start the manufacturing stage of the project, the drawings are sent out to the consultants of your choice for a final review. We only begin production once we’ve received the official sign-off on the drawings.

Do I buy direct or do I need to go through a dealer network?

If your business is based in Canada, you can buy your systems directly from us. Simply get in touch via the inquiry form on our Contact page, or give us a call at 1-855-804-7726. For those businesses based in the United States, you can purchase your Composite TotalJoist system through an Authorized Dealer. Our network of Authorized Dealers is fully versed in the specifics of our systems and can ensure you receive the same great experience from start to finish. Contact us to find the Authorized Dealer closest to your location. Please click here to learn more about becoming an Authorized Dealer of our systems.

Are you insured and do you provide a warranty on projects?

At iSPAN Systems, we pride ourselves on delivering a trustworthy, durable, and high-quality product. However, we understand that every project faces unique challenges, and we’re prepared in the event that a project stage doesn’t go as planned. Every iSPAN Systems project is fully insured, and we also offer warranties for all clients. Though it’s typical for companies to offer a standard warranty with blanket terms, our warranty terms vary based on the products and services supplied for the individual project. This is to ensure that the warranty is commensurate with the system or components that have been provided.

Will you complete the install or are there other installers who are familiar with your product to install it for me?

At iSPAN Systems, we consider ourselves cold-formed steel framing experts, and we are personally involved in all engineering, design, pre-construction, and project management duties. For the install, we look to a group of respected professionals who can provide the same level of expertise and professionalism in the field. We work with a select group of highly qualified installers that we can recommend. Not only do they know our systems well, but they’re also consummate professionals with years of experience and an unrivalled knowledge of construction best practices. Additionally, we are always open to training new installers. If you or anyone in your organization is interested in the process, we’re more than happy to discuss it with you.

When should I approach iSPAN about my project?

With most contractors or construction companies, it’s typical to bring them in once you’ve started to solidify your idea and move through the design process. But iSPAN Systems operates differently. The best time to approach us about your project is when your idea is just an informal sketch on a piece of paper. We don’t need detailed layouts or specs; in fact, we want to help you figure out those details. We’ll work with you to show the benefits of incorporating our TotalFraming and flooring systems’ unique features into your plans. This way, we’ll ensure an economical build without sacrificing quality, functionality, or aesthetic value.

How can you ensure the price won’t increase once I enter into an engineering agreement?

When you engage iSPAN Systems and commit to a contract with us, your agreement secures the price for your project and all related materials. However, the construction industry as a whole is subject to fluctuations in supply and demand, and this includes the cold-formed steel used in our projects. If the market experiences any unexpected volatility before your materials have been ordered, this could possibly impact your project costs. Significant delays could also lead to different costs down the line. In the event that industry trends or global events affect the cost of your project, we’ll most certainly inform you before moving ahead with the next phase. But we’ll do our best to give you the most accurate pricing estimates and keep you in the know throughout the project.

What are the benefits of your system compared to other systems? (Hambro, HollowCore, etc.)?

When you compare our TotalFraming system to other systems like Hambro and HollowCore, the benefits are immediately clear. Our system is a complete solution that results in a more marketable building in a shorter timeframe. TotalFraming is easier to use – it doesn’t require temporary shoring and our components have pre-cut service holes, which eliminates the need for bulkheads. It’s safer – our system is a 2-hour fire rated floor assembly. And it’s quieter – Composite TotalJoist has a 58 STC acoustic rating.

 

Do you have comparisons of acoustic ratings between yours and other systems?

Absolutely. Cold-formed steel framing is commonly used in multi-family buildings, like apartment complexes, condominiums, and hotels. And noise is the biggest concern of residents in these kinds of buildings. Our systems significantly reduce the amount of noise produced in these shared residential spaces. Composite TotalJoist has high acoustic ratings – 60% higher than precast concrete (with different depths) and over 34% higher than wood and gypcrete with reduced sound flanking. When Composite TotalJoist is used with 4” concrete, the perceived change in sound by humans improves 186%!

What are the sizes of the service holes in the web of your joists?

Service holes are important because they eliminate the need to install and use bulkheads. This equates to cost savings and a more efficient construction process. Our service hole sizes will vary based on the depth of the joist, but there’s an easy rule of thumb. The depth of the service hole is 6” less than the overall depth of the joist, and the holes are spaced 30” apart. For exact sizes, reference our Web Hole Sizing Chart.

What are the available depths of your joists?

We designed the components of our systems to work with all types of wall structures and existing framing. So, we understand the need to offer a variety of joist depths to accommodate different projects. Our TotalJoists are available in four depths: 9 ½”, 11 7/8”, 14” and 16”. Composite TotalJoist is available in depths ranging from 8-18”. Take a look at our span charts to understand how each of these depths will perform with your project.

What is the price comparison to wood or other floor systems?

When comparing the pricing of wood and cold-formed steel, you’ll initially find that cold-formed steel costs about 15% more than wood. But it’s important to consider more than the upfront price. Though wood is one of the cheapest building materials you can use, it’s highly susceptible to water damage and termite infestations, and it’s not energy efficient. This means you’ll spend a lot on repairs and preventative measures over time, and you’ll have higher energy costs. Cold-formed steel has a much longer lifespan, requires little maintenance and repair, and is one of the most sustainable building materials. You’ll clearly see the ROI over time. Additionally, use of cold-formed steel could potentially lead to lower insurance costs. Cold-formed steel is a non-combustible material that carries less risk than wood and other traditional materials. Research shows that insurance costs for non-combustible buildings can be 5-10 times less than costs for combustible buildings.

What is an approximate weight/dead load of the iSPAN system at a 12” depth with 4” concrete?

When using a cold-formed steel framing system, weight is actually an advantage, with cold-formed steel weighing less than more traditional building materials like wood. In this specific scenario (12” depth with 4” concrete), the weight of the iSPAN system is approximately 51.2 psf, according to the CAN span tables. This number is the self-weight of the floor assembly, and it accounts for an increased superimposed dead load of 25 psf.

What is the recommended UL No. for a 3 hour fire rating at podium level?

When working with any material, the fire rating is an important factor. Materials with a high fire rating are resistant to damage and have a much lower risk of combustion. That means structures are safer and more durable. For a 3 hour fire rating at podium level, UL 6589 is recommended. Our TotalFraming system uses non-combustible materials, has a 2 hour UL/ULC rating with one layer of drywall and has received an ICC-ESS report.

What is TotalFraming?

TotalFraming is iSPAN Systems’ most complete building solution. This system combines our Composite TotalJoist system with our load-bearing, pre-panelized walls. The result is a single source structural solution that’s delivered in a shorter timeframe than more traditional buildings.

TotalFraming’s installation is easy – all components are included, cut to size, and can be assembled with bolts instead of welds. Contractors can opt to assemble the structure on- or off-site, and they can do so with their existing workforce. There’s no need to hire special trades. TotalFraming is designed to make the construction process easy, create a higher quality structure, and get the project on the market quickly. Explore more details about TotalFraming here.

How many storeys can be built with your TotalFraming System?

TotalFraming was designed for low and mid-rise buildings. This typically means buildings that have anywhere from 3 to 12 storeys, like multi-family condos and apartment buildings, hotels, institutional buildings, and commercial buildings (e.g. offices, factories, etc.). Ultimately, the height of a TotalFraming structure depends on a few limitations, which are determined on a project basis. Currently, we’re working on plans for a 12-storey building, which shows that possibilities are endless when implementing our TotalFraming technology.

What is Composite TotalJoist?

Composite TotalJoist is our durable, high-quality concrete flooring system. This system combines the benefits of TotalJoists with our Total-Lewis-Deck, resulting in flooring that is stable and feels solid. Composite TotalJoist’s pre-engineered components are easy to install, which allows building owners and developers to finish projects faster. Additionally, this innovative system has superior vibration control, high fire and acoustic ratings, and allows for in-floor heating systems. In short, Composite TotalJoist is a fast, powerful way to expand design and building options. You can learn more about Composite TotalJoist here.

Can we use your Composite TotalJoist floor assembly and erect the structure in the winter?

Erecting a Composite TotalJoist structure and floor assembly in winter requires some special considerations. Once the external temperature drops below 5° C, you’ll need to heat the concrete topping to prevent damage. You can do this by heating the floor from below with propane salamanders. The propane won’t add any moisture to precast concrete or concrete blocks, so it’s safe to use for this function. In addition to the heating requirements, you’ll need to cover the concrete slab with tarps to trap the heat after the pour. But winters in southern Ontario aren’t as cold as in the past, and through December, you can see some mild weather. If you pour concrete on these milder days, you’ll minimize the need to heat the concrete.

What is Total-Lewis-Deck?

Total-Lewis-Deck is one of two key components of our Composite TotalJoist system. It’s a dovetail-shaped deck with embossed ribs. It’s especially effective because it forms a very strong, permanent bond with the concrete poured onto it, and it acts as a reinforcement for the slab. This contributes to Composite TotalJoist’s superior vibration control. Combined with TotalJoist, our patented steel floor joist, Total-Lewis-Deck helps create an easy-to-install, durable, high quality concrete flooring system that is stable and feels solid.

What is TotalJoist?

TotalJoist is our patented cold-formed steel floor joist, which serves as a robust, simplified framing solution. Its design allows for easy installation, similar to wood I-joists. However, TotalJoists are stronger, have superior structural integrity, and work with all types of wall structures, including wood framing, steel framing, masonry, and ICF. TotalJoists allow for bigger, more open rooms by providing up to 30% greater spans and eliminating the need for bulkheads. And once they’re in place, they maintain their quality. TotalJoists won’t succumb to shrinking, twisting, warping, and damage from termites, mold, or other conditions. You can learn more about TotalJoist here.

 

What is the difference between wood joists and TotalJoists?

iSPAN’s TotalJoists were created to provide a more simplified framing solution compared to more traditional materials like wood. Thus, TotalJoists and wood joists share some similarities, but TotalJoists are ultimately more efficient and easier to use, and they offer many potential savings on the overall project cost. The two are similar because they both have bottom chord bearing, nominal spacing, and plywood topping. But TotalJoists have many differences that give them a competitive edge. They’re crafted from steel, vibration-controlled, designed for 30% farther spans, and they’re pre-constructed with service holes. Not to mention, they’re part of our fully engineered TotalFraming system.

What is the maximum span of TotalJoists?

One of the greatest benefits of using our TotalJoists is that they enable greater spans than wood joists. However, it’s difficult to generalize the exact span without understanding more details of a specific project. Ultimately, the span depends on the type of joist used and the depth of that joist. (Our TotalJoists are available in four depths – 9 ½”, 11 7/8”, 14”, and 16”.) To figure out the estimated span for your project, view our span tables. And to discuss joist performance in greater detail, contact us today.

What is cold-formed steel?

Cold-formed steel is the key element of our proprietary framing systems, which results in superior building structures and components. Cold-formed steel refers to steel products that are shaped using cold-working processes. These processes are usually completed in a facility that’s near room temperature, as opposed to hot-rolled steel, which is shaped at a temperature hot enough to cause recrystallization. Cold-formed steel doesn’t shrink or change form, and, when compared with hot-rolled steel, it’s stronger, has a smoother appearance, and has more precise dimensions, making it ideal for exterior applications.

What are the advantages of building with cold-formed steel?

Cold-formed steel provides many advantages during the design and building phases, including cost reduction, ease of use, and smoother construction. It lends itself to more flexible designs, since every joist is custom made or ordered for the specific needs of the structure. Cold-formed steel weighs less than concrete and wood but carries the same structural load, has higher acoustic ratings than other materials, and requires less maintenance and repair over time. Additionally, cold-formed steel framing is prefabricated so building construction is faster and easier.

How is cold-formed steel made?

Cold-formed steel is crafted from structural quality sheet steel. The sheet steel is formed into different shapes (e.g. C shapes, U-shapes, Z-shapes, etc.) by roll forming it through a series of dies. This process doesn’t require heat, unlike hot-rolled steel, which is shaped above its recrystallization temperature. Often, cold-formed steel is shaped at or below room temperature. Cold-formed steel can be formed from a wide range of material thickness, which makes it easy to meet the unique requirements of each project. This process results in an extremely strong, durable, lightweight, and visually appealing steel that’s ideal for mid-rise buildings.

How durable is cold-formed steel?

Cold-formed steel is one of the most durable materials in construction. Unlike other building materials, it’s resistant to a lot of common threats like corrosion, mold, pests, shrinking, warping, cracking, or moisture-related contraction and expansion.

This means cold-formed steel framed buildings need fewer repairs and last longer in peak condition. With proper installation, cold-formed steel framed buildings could last for hundreds of years with minimal upkeep, which is not the case for other common framing systems like wood and ICF.

When was cold-formed steel invented?

Though cold-formed steel has gained considerable popularity in recent years, the technology has been around since the 1850s. In its early years, it was used for specialty projects like the Virginia Baptist Hospital, built in 1925. However, cold-formed steel was more of an experimental building option until official standards were introduced in the mid-1940s. Today, cold-formed steel is viewed as a desirable building material because of its durability, sustainability, and cost-effectiveness. It’s best applied to mid-rise buildings like multi-family developments and hotels.

What are the mechanical properties of cold-formed steel?

Cold-formed steel’s durability is enabled by its galvanized zinc coating. A majority of iSPAN Systems’ cold-formed steel framing uses the G60 coating, the most common metal coating. G60 refers to the quantity of the coating on each sheet of steel. For G60 specifically, this means there’s .30 ounces of coating per square foot. Some exterior components require a G90 coating, which designates .90 ounces of coating per square foot.

The galvanized coating protects the cold-formed steel against rusting and corrosion as well as other environment-related threats like excessive moisture.

What is CFS in Construction?

In construction, CFS is an industry-standard acronym for cold-formed steel. You might also see CFS buildings referred to as LGS, or light gauge steel, buildings. All in all, CFS doesn’t indicate anything different than the other common terms. Like cold-rolled steel and light gauge steel, it’s just another way to speak about cold-formed steel. Should you come across this acronym while working on an iSPAN Systems project or reading about cold-formed steel elsewhere, know that this is also just a matter of semantics.

Is cold-formed steel considered lightweight?

Cold-formed steel framing is considered lightweight. By definition, steel is a low-density material, meaning there’s a low concentration of steel present. However, this doesn’t impact its effectiveness, strength, or durability. The fact that cold-formed steel is lightweight is actually one of its greatest benefits.

Cold-formed steel components can be moved and installed easily. In some cases, because these components are so light, a single person can complete an entire installation. Because of its weight, cold-formed steel is easy to mold into any shape and achieve most design goals. And, aside from the fact that lightweight materials like cold-formed steel are easier to work with, they’re also more cost-effective.

Is cold-formed steel the same as cold-rolled steel?

In essence, cold-formed steel and cold-rolled steel are interchangeable terms that both refer to steel products shaped using cold-working processes. At iSPAN Systems, we prefer cold-formed steel, but we recognize that both terms are common industry-wide. However, in some instances, cold-formed steel is used to refer to steel shaped by several different cold-working processes beyond rolling. These processes could include pressing, stamping, bending and more. Technically speaking, cold-formed steel is an all-encompassing term, but for the purposes of your project, either term is applicable.

What is the difference between cold-rolled steel and hot-rolled steel?

The biggest difference between cold-rolled steel and hot-rolled steel concerns the temperature at which the steel is shaped. With cold-rolled steel, steel is shaped at or below room temperature. In contrast, hot-rolled steel is shaped above its recrystallization temperature. These different methods result in steel varieties that are best used for different purposes. Cold-rolled steel is stronger, more durable, and smoother, so it’s often used in construction projects for its visual appeal. Hot-rolled steel is typically used for more functional elements of a project, like sheet metal, pipes, tubes, railroad tracks, shelving and various auto parts.

 

What is Cold-Formed Steel Framing?

Cold-formed steel framing is a cost-effective and durable building material that’s commonly used in low and mid-rise buildings. This lightweight framing is constructed by using a system of repetitive framing members, each of which is spaced according to specific variations. Cold-formed steel is created by roll-forming metallic-coated sheet steel into various building components, such as joists and studs. Cold-formed steel framing works well in buildings where flooring and roofing systems are supported on bearing walls.

What type of building is ideal for cold-formed steel framing?

Cold-formed steel framing is most ideal for mid-rise buildings, but in this category, it can be applied to a wide variety of building types. Among them, cold-formed steel framing works extremely well for multi-family condos and apartments, hotels, and institutional mid-rise and post-disaster buildings. It’s also perfect for luxury custom homes, industrial mezzanines, and commercial buildings. Our proprietary systems were used in several high-profile structures, including the AquaZul Waterfront Condominiums in Stoney Creek, ON, the Walters Group Head Office in Hamilton, ON, and the Beatty Building in Columbus, OH. Visit our projects page to see more of our work.

Are cold-formed steel framed buildings considered “green”?

Cold-formed steel framing has a slew of sustainable, or “green”, qualities. It’s durable and built for longevity, meaning it won’t easily split, crack, warp, or sustain other types of damage. As a result, cold-formed steel framed buildings won’t need to be replaced or repaired often, which reduces waste and demand for raw materials. Also, cold-formed steel framing can be infinitely recycled, reducing the need to source new steel. It can be reused for renovations and other construction projects. And cold-formed steel framing helps improve a building’s energy efficiency, which reduces the building’s energy footprint and saves money on heating and cooling.

Can iSPAN’s CFS framing systems be used with ICF Construction?

Yes, iSPAN’s Composite TotalJoist and TotalJoist systems can be used with ICF construction. In fact, they were engineered to support a wide variety of conditions including block, wood, and structural steel in addition to ICF. These two systems are pre-engineered and easy to install, and they provide the same structural integrity and stability regardless of what the overall structure is made of. They’re also available in multiple depths to accommodate the unique needs of every project. Furthermore, iSPAN Systems provides engineering and design assistance to ensure that both Composite TotalJoist and TotalJoist work seamlessly with the rest of your structure.

Is cold-formed steel framing the same as light gauge steel framing?

Yes, cold-formed steel framing and light gauge steel framing are essentially the same. Like cold-formed steel and cold-rolled steel, the terms are used interchangeably throughout the construction industry. Some industry professionals prefer to use light gauge steel framing as a term for the process, and they specify that the framing sections are made of cold-formed steel. However, this is primarily a matter of semantics. Whichever term you use, you’ll be correct. Concerning descriptions of our proprietary systems, iSPAN Systems consistently uses cold-formed steel framing.

What is ICF in Construction?

ICF stands for insulated concrete forms. This construction method involves premade concrete forms that fit together like Legos. Each form’s exterior is made of foam insulation. During the construction process, the ICF blocks are fitted together, reinforced, and filled with concrete. ICF blocks are insulated inside and out, and they fit together seamlessly. Thus, one of the greatest values of this construction method is the strong insulation. This method is also highly regarded for its energy efficiency. ICF construction is commonly used for residential homes and underground additions like basements.

Need more answers?

Have a question that hasn’t been answered here? Contact us and we would be happy to help you.

 

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Call or email us if you have questions or would like to discuss a Canadian project.

Contact

For projects in the United States, reach out to one of our Authorized Dealers.