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

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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 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.

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 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.

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 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.

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 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 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 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.

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 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.

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%!

Need more answers?

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



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


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