When it comes to structural steel and metal stud vs. wood in commercial construction in Colorado, steel has the ability to span much larger distances in a typically smaller overall member size. In fact, steel can span distances where engineered wood materials ultimately are not available, or when fabrication isn’t economically feasible. This is why steel framing in commercial buildings is important, since commercial structures are generally much larger than residential projects.
Benefits of Structural Steel Framing
In addition to its superiority in large structures, another benefit to steel vs. wood framing in commercial buildings is that structural steel is relatively easy to pre-fabricate offsite, rather than requiring onsite welding during the erection process. During prefabrication, patterns for hardened bolts can be engineered so that beams and posts can be set and positively connected to one another quickly, once they arrive onsite. This saves time and makes for a more efficient construction site. Hardened bolts can also be torqued or turned to an engineer’s requirements. Steel allows designers to create uniquely shaped structures that are much taller than wood construction will allow.
Infilling a steel structure with metal stud framing is an industry standard in the commercial building environment. Metal studs don’t warp or bow the way wood does, which means walls can stand straighter if they were constructed from wood. In addition, they make an effective method of fire prevention. Metal studs are non-combustible, which allows for longer periods for evacuation.
Wood framing can raise certain safety issues. The wood may attract termites and other bugs, as well as rot, water damage, and other factors that don’t impact metal frames. Creating a wood structure requires the clearcutting of trees as well, which has a negative impact on the environment.
Drawbacks to Metal Stud Construction
One drawback to steel vs. wood framing in commercial building is that metal studs have a lower R-Value than wood when it comes to insulating capacity. However, there are numerous alternatives for insulating wall cavities that can make up for this deficiency. Metal studs can be covered with dense glass with a high fire resistance rating. The glass is then overlaid with rigid insulation panels, which improve the overall R-Value of the wall construction. The other drawback to structural steel and metal stud vs. wood in commercial construction is the cost. Metal stud construction is more expensive than wood. Still, it’s worth the extra expense for the stronger, safer, higher quality construction that steel and metal stud construction offer. When it comes to steel vs. wood raming in commercial buildings, the choice is clear.