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Installing Steel Framing: What Residential and Light Commercial Builders Should Know

Offering a better ROI for builders and a quicker process from start to finish, steel framing is gaining popularity for its use on residential and light commercial projects across New Zealand.  

Cold-formed steel (CFS) is the lighter, stronger, easier solution for framing – but as a builder, how can you confidently transition into steel framing if you’ve never used it before?  

Here’s an overview of the installation process for CFS, and what you can expect on site if you choose MODNframe for your next framing solution.  

Included materials 

A key difference between timber and steel framing is how the materials arrive on site. “All the pieces arrive ready to go with steel framing – and that’s really where you see significant time-saving for builders,” according to Bruce Wolfe, Master Builder and MODNframe Manufacturer. 

All the CFS materials you’ll need to erect your structure’s frame are precision-manufactured to size, which means that every wall, truss, and floor joist are already cut within 0.1mm accuracy when they arrive at the build site, 

Every necessary component is included with MODNframe products; it’s a complete framing solution that doesn’t require any on site rectification or any additional stick framing for onsite construction of eaves and soffits. 

If you’re new to working with cold-formed steel, here’s what you should know about the material: 

  • CFS is stronger than timber and 70% lighter.  
  • It is galvanised with zinc for added protection against rust. 
  • It is 100% recyclable – and has a high recycling rate of 74% globally. 
  • CFS will not bend, twist or warp due to weather or moisture. 

All CFS components are manufactured according to the structure’s design, leaving a straightforward and efficient assembly process for builders. Everything from sizing to pre-punched holes for service routing are incorporated at the production stage – helping alleviate effort traditionally spent on preparing materials for installation.  

Assembling the frame 

The construction method for steel framing is generally similar to using timber, with a few minor process differences. 

On site preparation starts with ensuring that the floor is level. Cold-formed steel should not come into direct contact with treated timber or concrete, so standard practice includes using a damp-proof course as a barrier.  

In most cases, builders begin placing walls from the rear of the structure and progress toward the front. The fixing position for each wall is often pre-marked to make the process quicker. Each frame is placed and screwed into position. The frame will fit together snugly without any sizing adjustments needed. 

Detailing of the components ensures the trusses are then positioned over studs to help reduce the load of the roof – and then secured with straps, fasteners, braces, and connectors. To fasten the walls to a concrete slab, setbolts, strapping or sleeve-type expansion anchors can be used.  

All types of exterior cladding and most kinds of internal linings can be used with steel framing, with little difference to their installation processes.  

MODNframe provides a framing layout plan with your product delivery and ongoing support to builders who are new to residential and light commercial steel framing solutions. As Warwick Stichbury reflects, “We are excited to offer a nationwide option for this kind of quality steel framing in New Zealand, and to be making this construction process easier for so many builders.” 

Why it makes a difference 

Steel framing is a more cost- and time-efficient option for builders compared to traditional methods.  

Builders can expect a greater ROI on steel framing because: 

  • It allows faster installation overall, requiring fewer labour hours. 
  • There are no uncertain delays to worry about – faster quoting, manufacturing, and no waiting for timber to dry. 
  • There is no cost to dispose of excess material. Usually, around 20% of treated timber ends up being wasted in the framing process – all of which must be disposed of at the builder’s expense. CFS framing results in zero waste. 

All told, steel framing helps simplify the construction process. Stronger, higher-quality materials help provide homeowners with a superior product, while lighter, pre-sized components help streamline installation for builders.  

Embracing efficiency sometimes means ditching old-school practices and adopting new technology. “As a builder, I understand the reluctance to try a new product,” says Bruce. “But what we keep seeing is that once builders try steel framing, they never want to go back. It’s truly a game changer.” 

If you’re ready to be part of that change, then get in touch today with our steel framing experts at MODNframe