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Cold Formed Steel Framing - Cold Formed Steel Studs Framing

June 10,2019

Tags:Cold Formed Steel


Cold-Formed Steel

Cold Formed Steel is arguably one of the most sustainable and increasingly-popular contemporary building products. This material is found in the most progressive homes and buildings of modern society. But what exactly is this product that we have come to depend so heavily on? To answer these questions, here is a comprehensive guide to cold-formed steel.


What is Cold-Formed Steel?

Cold-formed steel, also referred to as CFS, or metal stud framing, is a term used to describe the manufactured steel products that are produced via cold-working processes such as stamping, rolling, and shaping. Cold-formed steel studs products are most notably designed for various structural purposes. This is a sturdy and reliable construction material used widely in the foundation and framing of modern buildings and homes.

Despite what the name might seem to suggest, cold-formed steel studs are manufactured at roughly room temperature; however, this is comparatively much colder than the temperature at which steel is often shaped. This room-temperature process allows cold-formed steel to have a different chemical composition than certain other shaped metals, making it strong, durable, and lightweight, among other valuable characteristics. These factors are what make cold-formed steel studs framing so ideal for many modern feats of construction.


History of Cold-Formed Steel


The introduction of cold-formed steel (or Light Gauge Metal) in North America industries began in the early 1850s. This was during the period of time following the First Industrial Revolution, when population rates in America were on a steep rise and businesses were looking for ways to continue to advance the established societal foundation of production and manufacturing. However, the general use of cold-formed steel studs framing in construction did not begin until the 1900s due to the extensive availability of other more familiar materials and a lack of standardized design methods and information regarding cold-formed steel framing.

Over the years, the construction industry grew to incorporate cold-formed steel framing as a standard building material to meet the need for safe and strong structures. The catalyst for this change is often understood to be the publication of the first cold-formed steel design guide in 1946 out of Cornell University. As standards, regulations, and best practices gradually became widely understood, cold-formed steel became a more accessible and effective building material. This also came at the end of World War II, when an influx of soldiers returned to America and were now in the market for new homes as they rebuilt their post-war lives.

This regularization of cold-formed steel unleashed a new level of structural potential for American architecture, which heightened the structural standard within many major cities. The widespread uptake of cold-formed steel allowed for more diversity in construction methods and building types, and this material use slowly extended to become a common nationwide practice. In modern society, the use of cold-formed steel is widespread due to its extensive durability and reliable longevity.


What Makes Cold-Formed Steel Framing Different? | Difference Between Hot and Cold-formed Steel

Cold Formed Steel 1


The alternative to cold-formed steel (or light gauge metal) is hot-rolled steel. When steel is heated above its recrystallization temperature (i.e. hot-formed steel or hot-rolled steel), it can be easily molded to fill the general needs of various industries. However, this process can affect the composition of the steel during the cooling process, as it causes shrinking to the structure of the steel.

The cold-formed steel manufacturing process is completed at room temperature, which results in a much more predictable final product. Because the steel is not heated before being manufactured, it does not face the same reductive cooling process as other steel products, making it a strong and durable material perfect for building and construction.

This makes hot-formed steel and cold-formed steel very different in the frequent patterns of their use:

  • - Hot-formed steel is often much rougher than the sleek finish of cold-formed steel.

  • - Cold-formed steel is used when precision is key, as its final product is more reliable in measurement and predictability than the hot-formed alternative.


Ultimately, the primary differences between hot-formed steel and cold-formed steel can be found in the process used to create them. Hot-formed steel has a quicker and easier process, but it results in a less precise material than cold-formed steel.


How is Cold-Formed Steel Used?


As seen above, cold-formed steel (or light gauge metal) is necessary for modern construction projects that require the utmost in safety and strength. The shiny steel components you see often embedded into the framework of modern homes and buildings are cold-formed steel. This steel is used as the structural foundation of these building projects. For example, the skeletons of homes that you might see in the early stages of construction are increasingly replacing the dated wooden process with cold-formed steel, especially in areas where wood quickly rots or becomes infested with termites. Other uses include columns, decking, roofing, load-bearing support, and so many more.

Specifically, cold-formed steel studs framing is often used in homes and large buildings where security and stability are especially important, such as homes being built in environments where threats are imminent. However, cold-formed steel is a viable option for almost any construction project, even when it is not imperative in use. For example, even the smallest of homes in low-risk environments can benefit from the use of cold-formed steel studs framing. It is a diverse material that can provide any project with an added layer of protection.


Cold-Formed Steel Framing Members and Types


Cold-formed steel framing, sometimes referred to as CFSF, demonstrates how cold-formed steel can be incorporated into several facets of a home’s building and design process. These pieces can be manufactured as both the largest studs to the smallest connecting members. Larger constructions might have entirely cold-formed steel structural framing while other smaller constructions might just include the partial use of cold-formed steel framing.

Cold-formed steel members have been adapted to meet almost any project need; you can find cold-formed steel drift connectors, vertical deflection connectors, rigid connectors, load-bearing members, curtain wall members, specialty connectors, drift connectors, hybrid vertical connectors, fixed connectors, cold formed steel bridging connectors and members, and so much more. In even the smallest addition of cold-formed steel products contributes to the overall safety of a project.


Cold-Formed Steel Building Designs

Cold Formed Steel


When building with cold-formed steel, it is likely that safety, longevity, and structural security are all important factors to consider. This can be made difficult by the large scale of many cold-formed steel projects. This is why, in recent years, structural analysis software has become a central element of the cold-formed steel building design process.

This software can often determine load-bearing capacities and model how a structure will handle seismic activity, points of pressure, and other structural issues. This allows structural engineers to safely and effectively design buildings with cold-formed steel. Without the use of a structural analysis software, it can be difficult to determine the reliability of large buildings, homes, and other structures.

The cold-formed steel building design process often incorporates several drafts and revisions based on calculated data. This is largely what has made cold-formed steel constructions successful in the magnitude that they are today. This also has helped increase the safety and reduce unintentional building collapse over the years.

 

Is Cold-Formed Steel Right for Me?

Depending on the size and scale of your project, cold-formed steel may be necessary. Check the building codes of your area and your project type to determine if cold-formed steel is required. Even if it is not required, you might consider using it for your project. To determine if cold-formed steel is right for you, you should also consider:

  • - Your project’s budget: Is cold-formed steel an affordable option for your financial needs? You will want to ensure that you can comfortably afford all of the materials you need for your project. Thankfully, there are plenty of affordable cold-formed steel framing products on the market today, and CFS is actually more affordable than most people think when the durability and longevity of the material is considered. Get an estimate and see if these prices fit within your budget.

  • - The safety needs of your project: Does your project need high-level durability and reliability? If so, it might be important that you make room in your project plans for cold-formed steel.

  • - The design intention: Will cold-formed steel adhere to the designs you have for your project? You will want to ensure that cold-formed steel and its building codes meet the requirements for the project design you have in mind.

  • - Scope: Are you envisioning an entirely cold-formed steel project, or would you consider using cold-formed steel members with other building products? Perhaps certain elements of your project require cold-formed steel while others might have their needs met by other materials. Cold-formed steel is a diverse material; you should consider its many uses and which might fit into your project plans. 


If you are still wondering if cold-formed steel is the right material for your project, consider contacting an expert for a consultation. An expert’s input can help guide you along the building process to ensure that you have the materials and knowledge that you need to successfully complete your project.


Regulations and Specifications of Use


The AISI, or the American Iron and Steel Institute, publishes recurrent documents and design specifications regarding cold-formed steel. Naturally, building codes must also be followed, but these may vary based on the area, and often refer back to the most current AISI publication.

This is likely because AISI’s cold-formed steel publications are thorough and comprehensive. The most recent titles include, “North American Specification for the Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Members,” “Code of Standard Practice for Cold-Formed Steel Structural Framing,” and “North American Standard for Seismic Design of Cold-Formed Steel Structural Systems.” By combining all of the most recent research, outlining the industry’s best practices, and addressing common issues, AISI sets the stage for cold-formed steel constructions.


The Environmental Sustainability of Cold-Formed Steel

Cold Formed Steel


One increasingly important benefit of cold-formed steel is its environmental sustainability. Cold-formed steel is recognized in three areas of sustainability: low-maintenance resource management, low emission shipping, and recyclability.

First, the long-lasting nature of this material means that the structures created with cold-formed steel are less likely to need frequent repairs, maintenance, demolition, or reconstruction. This shorter lifetime and increased need for maintenance found in other materials indicate that they produce more waste and cause more carbon emissions in the building and rebuilding process. Cold-formed steel requires little to no maintenance over centuries, naturally resulting in less waste and reduced carbon emissions.

Next, because cold-formed steel is lighter in weight than many other building materials, its use creates a more sustainable building process. The lightweight nature of this material reduces the emissions in transportation. Compared to other products, its lightweight nature also helps reduce the resources required for lifting during the building process. The increased sustainability of cold-formed steel is thus extended both to the material itself and the construction process.

Finally, the sustainability of cold-formed steel is rooted in the recyclability of this material. In the instance that a structure is demolished, cold-formed steel can be easily reused, repurposed, and recycled, which makes it a more environmentally-friendly building material than other single-use substances. With the pressure on all industries, including construction, to use sustainable materials, cold-formed steel remains an unimpaired building option.


Resisting the Elements


Homes and other building constructions are valuable investments that are important to preserve, but this preservation can be increasingly difficult to manage when in areas prone to natural disasters. However, there are several different ways that cold-formed steel can help these structures resist the damages caused by the elements.

Earthquakes: Cold-formed steel resists the effects of seismic activity, making it safer for building along fault lines. In areas prone to earthquakes, cold-formed steel can help individuals stay safer and reduce the overall cost of damage produced by these natural occurrences.

Fire Resistance: With wooden-framed buildings and homes, a fire can quickly spread and leave nothing but destruction in its path. Cold-formed steel is different, however, in the fact that it is completely non-combustible. The fire-resistant aspect of cold-formed steel means that it will not burn or contribute to any fires that take place in a structure.

Water Damage: Cold-formed steel does not retain water, nor is it susceptible to water damage. Other building materials, such as wood framing, can easily become disastrous when exposed to water. Cold-formed steel protects homes from the costly damages often caused by flooding and stormwater. This makes it especially beneficial to homes in areas prone to rain and along the coast where hurricanes and other tropical storms are likely.

Pest Resistance: Unlike wooden framing and other traditional material options, cold-formed steel is not threatened by pests like termites. It is also resistant to mold and mildew, making it a safe and sanitary building alternative.


What about Rust? Cold-Formed Steel and the Process of Galvanization


The one risk that cold-formed steel poses over other framing and construction products is the risk of rust and corrosion. When steel products encounter rain and moisture, the sound chemical composition of these members could become threatened. This happens when the iron becomes oxidized by its exposure to the elements. Oxidation causes the metal stud framinig to rust and corrode away, undermining its strength and durability. However, this risk has long been addressed by the introduction of steel galvanization.

If you are not familiar with galvanization, this is the process of sealing a metal with liquid zinc. The liquid zinc does not change the chemical composition of the steel nor does it compromise the strength of the material. This seal simply provides an added layer of protection for the cold-formed steel and is known to last hundreds of years. Galvanization works because zinc does not face the same risks of oxidation that steel products do. This process is used by all reliable steel distributors, and it effectively eliminates the risk of rust and corrosion in cold-formed steel constructions.


Lower Insurance Rates and Cold-Formed Steel

Cold Formed Steel 5


On top of all of the apparent benefits of building with cold-formed steel, there is the potential of additional financial advantages. This is most uniquely evident in the fact that building with cold-formed steel might help you qualify for lower insurance rates.

According to the Steel Framing Industry Association, the non-combustible nature of cold-formed steel can reduce the insurance liability of your structure, making your eligible for lower premiums. These lower rates can help you offset the cost of building with cold-formed steel, meaning that it might just pay for itself. This makes cold-formed steel an especially beneficial option for high-risk structures in need of reduced insurance rates.


Other Benefits of Cold-Formed Steel

  • - Durable: Known for its enhanced durability, cold-formed steel is a long-lasting building material. This provides a crucial element of longevity to building projects that can help structures withstand the test of time and all of the challenges that might come with it.

  • - Ease of Use: Achieving an ideal balance of durability and lightweight is what makes cold-formed steel a widely accessible building material. The lightweight nature of the product makes it possible to build structures that surpass the limits on size and scale that wood has.

  • - Progressive: The renowned strength of cold-formed steel has allowed the construction of taller, lighter, buildings and sturdier homes, without fear of collapse, and this progress continues to evolve due to its outstanding strength.

  • - Reliable: If you live near the coast or on a fault line, cold-formed steel could give you the reliable peace of mind that you need to feel safe in your home. The reliable nature of cold-formed steel allows society to accomplish incredible, beautiful, structural feats.

Where to Find Cold-Formed Steel | Cold-formed Steel Manufacturers


There are plenty of cold-formed steel manufacturers and distributors worldwide. cold-formed steel manufacturer and distributor can make or break your project. When choosing a steel manufacturer, it is important to check for galvanization, affordability, software partnerships, and effective customer support.


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