Leading Australian steel framing systems manufacturer Dynamic Steel Frame reveals the truth behind common myths about building with steel.
The use of steel in construction applications worldwide is widespread, with steel framing specified for commercial as well as residential buildings. Unfortunately, many people are still not convinced about the suitability of steel structures in construction due to their limited knowledge of the material’s performance.
Setting the record straight, Dynamic Steel Frame dispels 7 of the most common myths and misconceptions about steel.
Myth 1: Steel frames are noisier than other stud frames
Dynamic Steel Frame’s light gauge steel frames aren’t noisier than other stud frames. Studies conducted by CSIRO found that ‘most occupants of homes with steel frames either reported no sound emitted from the frame or said that if it did, it was not a problem’. Some even admitted to lower noise than timber framed houses.
In a properly constructed and insulated home using a steel frame such as a Dynamic Steel Frame’s product, thermally induced movement is not an issue. Steel is engineered and inorganic, and will not rot, warp, twist, bow, shrink, split or settle. In fact, plaster or cornice cracking will be minimised because steel doesn’t change state during its lifespan.
Myth 2: Steel is more prone to lightning strikes, making it dangerous to live in
Steel is a positive conductor to the earth with the energy conducted straight to the ground and not released destructively within the frame as in conventional framing or cladding. Dynamic Steel Frame says it’s actually safer to be in a steel-framed home than a wooden framed home during a lightning situation.
Myth 3: Steel frames will rust over time
The steel used to fabricate Dynamic Steel Frame’s LGS frames is protected against corrosion by a hot-dipped metallic coating of a zinc-aluminium-magnesium alloy. In external applications such as roofing where these products are exposed to the elements, they have excellent durability, while weathering more slowly in less exposed applications such as inside the building envelope. Where there are cut edges, the galvanic action or sacrificial protection of the coating protects the exposed steel edge against corrosion. Dynamic Steel Frame exclusively uses Bluescope Truecore, which carries a conditional 50-year warranty against corrosion, providing the assurance that only the best quality steel is being used in your project.
Myth 4: Steel contracts and expands with temperature changes
Thermally induced movement is not an issue in properly constructed and insulated homes. Everything expands and contracts with heat and cold; however, steel products have a far closer rate of expansion than wood and plasterboard, virtually eliminating plaster cracks. Steel is additionally not susceptible to moisture, unlike wood, which swells and contracts on exposure.
Steel is the preferred framing material in the extreme climate of North-West Western Australia, for example, where temperatures can vary more than 40 degrees Celsius in a single 24-hour period along with humidity.
Myth 5: Light gauge steel frame can't be safe when exposed to a live electric wire
LGS frames are safe because they are earthed. All new houses are required to be fitted with circuit breaking safety devices in order to reduce the chances of the occupants touching anything live. In the event a wire makes contact with a steel frame, it instantly trips the residual current device. Conversely, a damaged or pierced wire in a timber frame can remain live and leak current, causing problematic faults and creating a fire risk.
Myth 6: A steel frame can interfere with radio and television reception
Electro-magnetic waves can diffract around steel just as easily as timber. Waves pass through the spaces between the studs, allowing the use of all household appliances without any interference.
Myth 7: A steel frame interferes with Wi-Fi reception
Steel framing is widely used across the world and there have never been any reports of interference with Wi-Fi signals in buildings featuring steel framing systems.