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Light gauge steel framing is widely applied today for many reasons, and one may wonder what light gauge steel offers that can't be obtained from other materials. The name can be misleading, but what you should know is that light gauge steel framing is anything but weak. Many call it cold-formed steel, which describes the method used for its creation.

Light gauge steel framing is lightweight, making it great for reducing transportation costs and increasing construction ease. However, an essential thing to note is that they are very tough construction materials. Using them will save time and money, and you won't need to sacrifice your home's structural integrity or quality.

Whether you're a general contractor, architect, or property owner, you must know about light gauge steel framing. This article will take you through everything you should know about light gauge steel framing and its strength.

What is Light Gauge Steel Framing?

Most steel members are built into frames that consist of beams and columns. Dry sheeting is used to cover the members on both sides for the load-bearing wall. Steel is also used to complete the framing system, as well as the connection between each member, and this is created with screws that are self-drilling and self-tapping.

Steel is usually coated with zinc and aluminium, or just zinc, to protect it from fire. This is also called galvanised steel, and this coating process offers protection against corrosion. The coating thickness generally varies, depending on where it is used and applied.

For example, the steel used in drier regions doesn't require much coating, while those in marine environments feature a thick coating layer. Another thing to note is that the non-structural areas of the steel are only 2mm thick, while the structural sections are 1 to 3mm thick.

The versatility of steel framing 

Most contractors usually order pre-punched sections. They mostly come with factory-made holes designed for plumbing and wires to pass easily.

This type of construction is also applied for non-structural framings like interior partitions and external cladding. This type of construction was originally designed for use in interior office partitions, but they are now widely applied in other cases.

Advantages of Using Light Gauge Steel

Light gauge steel shares some similarities with traditional wood-framed structures, with the wooden frame replaced by a steel frame. As mentioned earlier, the steel thickness varies based on the requirements and scale of the projects it is used for.

Today, the continued advancement in technology has significantly improved the construction industry. Light gauge steel is now popular not only for residential properties but also for the construction of commercial and industrial properties. They have many advantages, and these include the following:

Lightweight and durable

One of the main reasons light gauge steel is used in many ways is because it is durable and has a high tolerance, accuracy, and straightness. Using steel reduces the chance of construction failure, and you have nothing to worry about during installation and transit.

Before the advancement of light gauge steel, conventional steel was a heavy product widely applied in large-scale construction projects. The critical thing to note is that it offers the same level of accuracy and strength as standard steel.

High strength

The strength-to-weight ratio of light gauge steel is very high, and it's strong enough to support a large load. Interestingly, it can stay lighter than concrete and timber, despite its load.

This is one factor that makes it better than wood frames in terms of strength. Also, light gauge steel allows for larger spacing between the framing sections. Another exciting thing is that light gauge steel is light enough to lower the load on the foundation of buildings.

Also, they are easy to transport and further enhance modular construction, especially within a factory environment. The main reason why it is an excellent option for residential buildings and multi-story commercial buildings is because of the strength it offers.

Dimensional stability

With the steel's durability and strength, it won't easily experience warping or bending, even when subjected to extreme pressure or load. This is common with other construction materials, but that's not true with light gauge steel.

It is 100% non-combustible and fire-resistant, unlike timber. Another thing to note is that the dimensional stability that light gauge steel offers enhances its use in high buildings.

Speedy construction

Light gauge steel is light by nature, as the name suggests, and this enhances off-site modular construction, resulting in fewer callbacks and accurate results. The critical thing to know about modular constructions is that weather does not affect them easily, and this further reduces construction delays. In general, modular constructions are completed faster than other construction methods used on-site.

Environmentally friendly

Another benefit of light gauge steel is that it can be recycled easily. Its construction involves timeliness and accurate processes, resulting in fewer waste materials and further reducing the environmental impact.

In addition, it's important to note that steel is termite-proof, and you won't need to perform any chemical treatments to keep termites away. With light gauge steel, you won't need to perform these chemical treatments that are harmful to the environment.

Light Gauge Steel Vs. Wood Framing

Let's quickly review the differences between light gauge steel and wood framing. The first thing to note is that light gauge steel offers multiple advantages that you won't enjoy with wood framing. For example, light gauge steel is light but strong, making it easier for contractors to complete building projects. Other benefits include the following:

  • You can easily modify it at your convenience.
  • It can be shaped easily, unlike wood framing.
  • You can use everything by hand when used for a home building.
  • Light gauge steel can be insulated with the aid of different materials. 
  • A hand-held screw gun is a primary tool for light gauge steel framing installation.

As mentioned earlier, light gauge steel structures are fire-resistant, unlike wood framing. Steel can be further made fire-resistant by coating it with fire-rated sheeting. Another thing to note is that it doesn't warp, shrink, rot, or decompose, which makes it an excellent option for use during termite attacks.

Heavy Vs. Light Gauge Steel Framing

Light gauge steel framing is used in different construction projects because it is innovative, reliable, and better than other options, including wood framing. However, light gauge steel framing shares some similarities with wood framing.

The only difference is that steel is used to replace wood or for alterations to timber frame designs. Another thing to note is that light gauge steel framing is cold-formed, implying that it is created at room temperature, unlike timber.

Structural steel

You can bend it and make it into any shape you choose. Heavy steel framing involves processes that form thicker pieces when hot and in a molten state. The cold-formed part of this steel is then passed through rollers to get an S, Z, or C-shaped section.

The main disadvantage of heavy or structural steel is its weight.

The transportation of these materials requires heavy trucks, and you will need cranes for its installation. This can be a time-consuming process and equally requires labour-intensive processes.

That is why you rarely see them in light commercial or residential construction. Depending on the needs of your project, medium-sized construction can maximise the benefit of both the light gauge steel and structural steel.

Light Gauge Framing is Stronger Than it Sounds

Light gauge steel framing is strong enough to withstand high loads and maintain its lightweight. It has different sustainable features, making it an excellent option for its environmental friendliness.

Also, it is easier and faster to install than timber and other framing materials. A light gauge steel framing fabrication professional can help you with the best steel framing option for your steel construction needs, so you don't have to worry about deciding on your own whether to use light gauge framing.