How to Design a Steel Framed Building

How to Design a Steel Framed Building

If you are thinking about designing and constructing a home, one option you may be considering is a steel frame building. Is a steel frame structure a smart choice? What types of framing systems can you consider? And what should you expect from the construction process?

In this guide, we will discuss steel framing in detail and set out to answer some of your questions. Let’s get started by going over the basics.

What is Structural Steel Framing?

Structural steel framing is one style of metal construction you can use to build a residential or commercial structure.

A series of vertical columns and horizontal beams made of steel are used to create a frame. 25-45 feet is typical for spacing the columns.

Why Steel Framing?

Here are a few reasons to consider choosing steel framing for your next residential construction project:

  • Versatility. Whatever shape and size you want your building to be, you can make it happen with structural steel. As you will discover in the next section, there are multiple types of steel framing systems, each of which are ideal for different types of projects. Whether you want to build a single-story home, a multi-story home, or a structure with an open floor plan and wide, unobstructed spaces, structural steel framing makes it possible.
  • Sturdiness. Steel is strong, and can stand up to conditions that might damage wood framing. In particular, if you live in an area with hurricanes, earthquakes, or other hazards, steel makes for a sturdy alternative to wood. Events that might cause severe damage to your neighbors’ homes might cause significantly less damage to yours.
  • Resistance to pests. If you have ever had an infestation of rodents or insects in a wood structure, you know how destructive pests can be. A sufficiently bad termite infestation sometimes leads to the demolishment of a structure. But steel beams and columns do not interest rodents or insects. So, the core structure of your home should stay safe, even if you live in an area where pests are prevalent.
  • Resistance to rot. Do you live in a damp climate? Humidity leads to mold, and mold leads to rot, at least with respect to materials like wood. But metal does not rot like wood, making it a more viable option in humid parts of the world.
  • Lightweight. Even though steel is a strong substance, it is not a heavy one. There are a couple of benefits to the material being lightweight. For one thing, it costs less to transport lighter materials than it does to transport heavier ones. So, you will probably pay less to have steel delivered to your site than you might picture. For another, steel is not as unwieldy as some other materials that weigh more. So, whether you are erecting the frame or a contractor is, it will not be as difficult or as dangerous. That can help to keep construction costs in check.
  • Sustainable. Another advantage of going with steel for the framing system for your home is that you can use recycled materials for construction. Additionally, it is possible to recycle this material again in the future. For both of those reasons, steel framing systems are eco-friendly.
  • Budget-friendly. Your initial cost outlay with steel construction will be higher than it would be if you were going with a traditional wood frame for your building. Nevertheless, over the long haul, a steel frame should save you money. You will not need to spend as much on maintaining it as you would a wood structure. It should also offer you greater longevity.

Types of Steel Framing Systems

Now that you know some reasons to consider building a steel framed home, let’s talk about steel framing systems.

You can choose from several different types of steel framing systems when constructing a residence.

  • Skeleton steel framing: With this framing system, beams, and columns are joined through methods such as welded or bolt connections. The masonry walls are supported by spandrel beams. You can build to whatever size you like using this system. Since skeleton steel framing is ideal for a wide range of projects, it is the go-to choice for many builders.
  • Wall-bearing steel framing: If you want to build a low rise steel-framed structure like a one-story home, consider a wall-bearing steel framing system. This is a rigid frame structure where the end of the structural members is carried by the interior or exterior wall. This is what supports the roof load.
  • Long span steel framing: What if you need significant clearance in a structure? This is when you might consider long span steel framing. Subtypes of long span steel framing include rigid frames, arches, girders, trusses, and cantilever suspension spans. While wall bearing steel framing is not appropriate for especially heavy loads, long span steel framing may provide the support you are looking for.

What else is useful to know about constructing a steel structure building?

As this paper related to a presentation at NASCC: The Steel Conference, explains, “Efficient connection design is the single most significant element required in order to enhance the constructability of steel-framed building structures. Engineers who consider connection issues during design will improve the constructability and economy of their designs.”

The Steel Frame Construction Process: What to Expect

The actual process of erecting a steel frame building will vary depending on the specific framing system you choose, the foundation type, and the details of the structure’s design.

Additionally, it will depend on the approach you decide to take. There are some building kits for steel frame structures you can erect on your own. Usually, these kits do not require heavy machinery, as the components are prefabricated.

Nevertheless, you may decide it would be better to have a contractor handle the construction of your steel frame building.

If so, you will need to select a company to work with. You will want to take a look at their portfolio, discuss the systems and methods they use, seek cost estimates, and ask for referrals. Establish a firm timeline before proceeding.

Next Steps

A steel frame building is one that can stand the test of time. Over the years you spend in your steel framed home, you will save money on its upkeep since minimal maintenance will be required.

Are you ready to take the next steps? Continue exploring our website to keep learning more about steel building homes. You can also take a look at the building kits and contractors we recommend.