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Why Cold-Formed Steel is Ideal for Construction Projects that Span the Winter Months

Durable material such as cold-formed steel keeps projects on track regardless of weather conditions

Winter construction in Canada poses a lot of difficult challenges. Among them, there are dangerously cold temperatures; frequent wind, rain, and snowstorms; damage from frost and precipitation; and tough working conditions for labourers. Additionally, it’s quite expensive to excavate deeply frozen ground. For structures that use common building materials like wood or concrete, weather could lead to project postponements or expensive workarounds. With cold-formed steel, however, projects can continue throughout the season without sacrificing the quality, beauty, or durability of a building.

Cold-formed steel doesn’t require special processes

Building with certain materials during the winter often requires special processes or equipment to ensure the structure’s strength and quality aren’t compromised. For example, concrete can’t freeze at any point during the first 24 hours after it’s poured, and it must be warm while it cures. If so, it fails to reach its full strength, which could lead to safety issues or a reduced lifespan for the building. Custom heaters are brought in to create the ideal conditions for concrete curing. This is an extra expense for the project, and it could affect the schedule.

In contrast, cold-formed steel doesn’t require heaters or any other tools. It can be installed regardless of the temperature or the humidity. It performs as intended in all conditions.

Cold-formed steel is always structurally sound

Cold-formed steel doesn’t warp, twist, or bend because of moisture or changing temperatures, unlike other raw materials (e.g. wood). The cold has no impact on its quality. So, it doesn’t matter if it freezes the day that it’s installed. As mentioned above, the same can’t be said for concrete. Masonry is also vulnerable to cold conditions.

If you build with cold-formed steel during a winter construction project, you can expect the same durability as if you were building at the peak of July.

Cold-formed steel makes it easier to work with specialty trades

Winter conditions don’t just impact the labourers working with the framing; special considerations must also be made for mechanical, electrical, and plumbing trades to ensure they can complete their respective tasks. Cold-formed steel wall studs and floor joist systems (like iSPAN Systems’ Composite TotalJoist) have pre-cut service holes for equipment pass-throughs. Because of these holes, mechanical, electrical, and plumbing trades don’t need to bring in their own equipment to continue the project. This can keep the project on schedule – or even better, it could save time.

Cold-formed steel saves money and creates better conditions for workers

When you work with cold-formed steel, many of the building components can be assembled off-site and installed later. With other materials, much of this work has to happen on-site. That means that scaffolding or enclosures need to be installed and heated for long periods of time. This can be expensive, and it can significantly impact the cost-effectiveness of the project. Not to mention, the working conditions can still be tough for labourers, even with accommodations.

Because cold-formed steel parts can be assembled off-site, a lot of this work takes place indoors, away from the brutality of the winter cold.

Cold-formed steel is ideal for multi-season projects

Cold-formed steel provides the flexibility needed to keep large projects on track throughout the winter. For example, for the construction of Sheridan College’s Student Residence on its Trafalgar Campus, the project manager timed the construction cycle just right. The concrete foundation was poured in the fall when conditions were more favourable. Then, the cold-formed steel components – load-bearing wall systems, roof joists, and other parts – were installed during the winter. Even though temperatures dropped as low as -20 degrees Celsius, the project stayed on schedule with no issues.

If this Student Residence was built with wood or masonry instead, construction may have been postponed until conditions improved. Or the budget would have been much higher to account for heaters, heated scaffolding, and other equipment. Cold-formed steel allowed this multi-season project to continue without any impediments.

Cold-formed steel has many benefits during every season, but especially during winter construction. It keeps complex projects on schedule without endangering workers, compromising quality, or increasing costs. To incorporate cold-formed steel systems or components into your next project, contact iSPAN Systems today!


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