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Light-Gauge Steel 101: A Lesson on the Ultimate Load-Bearing Structural Solution

Light-Gauge Steel 101 - A Lesson on the Ultimate Load-Bearing Structural Solution - iSPAN Systems

The construction industry is embracing a younger and stronger framing material that delivers benefits for architects, contractors, developers and tenants. Discover why this versatile steel design is outmatching everything else.

Light-gauge steel (also known as cold-formed steel and cold-rolled steel) is a cold-formed material that is used to make construction processes smoother and products stronger. It does not deteriorate, like wood. It is not bulky, like structural steel. It is not heavy, like concrete. It is something completely different, and if you have ever worked with it before, you know that there is a practically endless list of benefits. Let’s look further into this wonder material and how iSPAN Systems’ light-gauge steel structural solutions can benefit you on your next project.

Light-Gauge Steel’s Inception for the Benefit of Contractors

Early in the 1900s, builders began searching for new ways to use steel. Hot-rolled structural steel was extremely strong, but expensive and difficult to install. The innovation and housing shortage after WWII spurred research into light-gauge steel as a load bearing and non-load bearing element. It was found to be 20% stronger than hot-rolled steel with a far superior strength to weight ratio, with significantly less material and energy use than anything else.

Once American design standards came around in 1946, builders quickly began moving forward on constructing homes and mid-rise buildings out of this newly approved building material. In the 1950s and 1960s, as the economy grew, so did the number of cold-formed steel structures in the commercial market.

Today, after further research and engineering support, light-gauge steel is standard use in many new single homes and mid-rise buildings, such as hotels, apartments and condominiums.

What is Possible With Light-Gauge Steel?

The question should be “What isn’t possible?” because there is an endless list of uses for this versatile steel product: everything from cars and bridges to storage racks and furniture.

iSPAN Systems has mastered light-gauge steel in building structures and continues to research new possibilities. No matter the building use, iSPAN can pursue and work with its clients on coming up with a cold-formed solution: trusses, joists, walls, floor decking (Composite TotalJoist) and other components.

What is the Big Deal about Light-Gauge Steel?

It’s fairly new, but it’s rapidly growing in popularity. Why is that? This light and strong material makes the building process better for everyone, whether you’re an architect, contractor or developer.

Light-Gauge Steel Benefits for Architect

  • iSPAN is a single-source supplier, backed with a design/engineering team
  • Allows for large spans resulting in more spacious spaces
  • Reduces/eliminates bulkheads
  • Results in fewer plan changes and costly mistakes since materials are prefabricated
  • Environmentally friendly choice using recyclable materials
  • Each detail is planned prior to construction

Light-Gauge Steel Benefits for Contractors

  • iSPAN is a single-source supplier, backed with a design/engineering team
  • Reduces schedules, saving time and money
  • Reduces the cost and number of labourers needed
  • Creates a cleaner and safer work environment
  • Building Information Modelling reduces measurement/production dilemmas
  • Material weight is reduced
  • Can be erected in winter
  • Walls are load bearing
  • Easy integration with other materials
  • Prefabricated components – each detail is planned prior to construction
  • iSPAN Systems supports contractors with installation
  • No shoring needed with Composite TotalJoist flooring
  • Joists are adjustable to allow for small discrepancies
  • In many cases, contractors secure lower insurance rates
  • Follow-up trades can start sooner after Composite TotalJoist installation

Light-Gauge Steel Benefits for Developers/Owners

  • Fast installation, so that you receive the keys sooner
  • Lower cost of ownership with durable materials
  • Increased fire ratings
  • Highly recyclable content
  • Resists moisture, pests and rot
  • Lower building insurance rates
  • High acoustic ratings with the Composite TotalJoist flooring system
  • Vibration control that exceeds minimum standards

Light-Gauge Steel 101 - A Lesson on the Ultimate Load-Bearing Structural Solution - iSPAN Systems - 01

iSPAN Systems Perfects Light-Gauge Steel

iSPAN’s founder, Mike Strickland, recalls the business’s beginnings, “If you take a look at the cold-formed steel frame industry, you have roofs, you have walls and you have floors. Floors are 65% of the weight of a building and the walls are 30%.” Strickland and the iSPAN team wanted to find ways to make structural systems stronger, so revolutionizing the floors and walls were great places to start.

Strickland worked with colleagues and friends to perfect the product, the fabrication and the processes to benefit as many people as possible. Today, iSPAN’s light-gauge steel framing solutions are revolutionizing the construction of mid-rise condominiums and apartments, hotels and retirement residences. With applications for many building types, iSPAN’s flooring and framing systems – TotalJoist, Composite TotalJoist and TotalFraming – have been used by leading developers and architects on projects across North America.

Much More to Learn About iSPAN Innovations in Light-Gauge Steel

To learn more about iSPAN Systems and its proprietary light-gauge steel TotalFraming structural solution, contact iSPAN director of sales Dwayne Schauss at dwaynes@ispansystems.com or call 1-855-804-7726.


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