In New Zealand, more and more builders and architects are choosing to work with steel framing in place of chemically-treated timber. Lighter, sustainable, and more durable – light gauge steel offers a more efficient solution that saves install time and therefore on-site costs for residential and light commercial building projects.
Transitioning to a new process – even one that has been extensively tried and tested among many builders – may seem like a risk. However, light gauge steel framing actually has a long history in the construction industry around the world.
Here’s how light gauge steel framing works, and what you should know about its uses and benefits.
What is light gauge steel (LGS)?
Also known as cold formed steel, this type of structural steel is roll formed through a precision processed machine, at room temperature. This makes the manufacturing process, compared to timber and hot-rolled steel, highly efficient.
Everything from portal frames, joists, and the wall framing can be made using LGS. For framing elements, the steel is rolled and programmed to fit the exact specifications of the building.
As a metal, steel is naturally resistant to borer and other bugs, mould and rot. To further protect the material, LGS is galvanised, meaning that it is coated in a layer of zinc to a minimum weight of 275 grams per square metre (Z275) .This makes it highly resistant to rust and corrosion.
While MODNframe is the first NZ nationwide distributor for this product, steel framing as a practice has been around for over 150 years, offering cost-effective and durable solutions for builders. New technology using smart, efficient design software has made cold formed steel even more durable, efficient to manufacture, and simple to handle and install onsite.
The result is a strong and lightweight material that provides long-term durability for residential and light commercial builds.
The benefits of using cold formed steel for framing
As with any construction project, time and cost efficiency are crucial for everyone involved. Cold formed steel framing offers a superior system that helps streamline the process of quoting, developing, and erecting framing onsite. Here’s what to expect when using MODNframe LGS framing.
A cost-effective process. From design to manufacturing to installation, steel offers a simpler process for framing, which ends up saving time and overall costs. Because the manufacturing process is so efficient, builders can expect quick turnarounds from consent to product delivery. Steel framing and trusses from MODNframe can be manufactured in just two weeks.
Because steel is so durable, fire-resistant, and rust-resistant, LGS framing offers a longer lifespan than timber, and therefore a more cost-effective option for building owners.
Simple and fast installation. One of the biggest advantages of using steel framing is that the product arrives onsite ready to install. No drying, and no risk of warping. Part of the manufacturing process involves getting every truss and frame exactly to size – within 0.1 mm of tolerance. That means builders don’t have to measure, cut, or amend any components to erect the frame.
Steel framing also includes service holes required for electrical and plumbing installation, making the process easier for subcontractors down the line.
Less waste. Unlike treated timber, cold formed steel can be recycled, and therefore leaves a smaller industry footprint. And because the frames are created to size, they don’t require onsite rectification. Using timber, which must be cut to size, builders can expect to waste up to 20% of the framing material – and this can be expensive to dispose of efficiently. Steel framing eliminates this waste and this cost, offering a more sustainable solution.
Light and strong. Cold formed steel has the highest weight-to-strength ratio of any material used in construction, making it a highly efficient option for framing. The lightweight nature of LGS makes it easier to handle during shipping and installation, while the added strength allows architects wider flexibility when it comes to structural design.
What it means for New Zealand
While LGS framing has long been part of the construction industry in Europe, North America, and Asia, New Zealand is only just starting to take advantage of its benefits for residential and light commercial builds.
MODNframe, the framing solution backed by Donovan Group, is offering the country’s first nationwide distributor for steel framing design and production for residential and light commercial structures. Reaching across every corner of New Zealand, MODNframe is providing access to a more sustainable, cost-effective, and efficient product.
“For timber users right now, this product is going to be a game-changer. What MODNframe offers is a far more streamlined process. There’s less waiting with steel framing – and that will help everyone save time and be more efficient,” says Warwick Stichbury, MODNframe Commercial Manager.