The steel framing It is a construction system that is being implemented more every day. Although it has some similarities with dry construction, it is a method that differs from it in several key aspects.
This method is perfect for those cases where a more rigid structure is needed. Its main advantage is the speed of construction, similar to what can be achieved with drywall Y framing of wood. Let’s see what it is and what differences it has with traditional dry construction.
What is steel framing?
Basically, the steel framing is a construction system that uses steel profiles (steel frame in English) cold-formed and galvanized instead of wood or aluminum beams as structural elements.
These profiles are joined together to form generally rectangular cells, on which the different plates that will form the walls, the floor or the ceiling are placed.
The most used profiles are U-shaped, although L-shaped, S-shaped and other shapes are also used. Each profile includes perforations inside, to allow the passage of pipes, cables and structural elements.
The insulation and finishing plates are placed on these profiles, which can be fiber cement, fiberglass and polymer, among others, for the insulating elements, and plaster, polymer or ceramic plates for the interior or exterior finishes.
With the rise of this type of construction, a whole series of tools and accessories to make work more efficient, precise and safe. Throughout the article we will present the most important ones.
Tip adapter for steel framing and insulation boards
They were developed to be used with the different types of drills. These accessories are ideal for the assembly and installation of insulation boards and sheets, as they allow the chuck to be easily adapted to be used as a screwdriver.
spikes with stop
Ideal for assembling the structure during the installation of plates, these power tool accessories They allow you to work with the peace of mind of the “stop” that stops the screwing at the right distance and thus avoids accidental holes in the plate.
In all cases it is necessary to place one or two layers of drywall adjacent to the profiles, to protect them in case of fire, since one of the disadvantages of this construction method is the vulnerability of the steel profiles to high temperatures (above 400° C).
In this stage of construction, an increase in the transfer of panels and plates is common, a task that was previously carried out entirely manually and that today has become safer and more agile thanks to the development of plate carriers. These allow plates and panels to be carried from one place to another with ease and safety.
What types of profiles are there?
when working with steel frames it is necessary to differentiate between the profiles that serve as guides and those that serve as frames. The former are usually more robust if it is a load-bearing wall; on interior walls it is possible to use thinner profiles (16 for example). Technically the profiles used as guides are U profiles called sills, and the profiles intended for the frame are C profiles called uprights.
In addition to this distinction, it is necessary to know the profiles are differentiated by their shape and structural function; thus, there are the smooth ones, the perforated ones, the punched ones (with an H-shaped hole in the central beam, to be able to pass through there pipes and wiring just by bending the resulting fins), the compartmentalized ones, the L profiles used to make joints reinforced and others such as the trapezoidal one, used for ceilings.
There are also special profiles that allow the union of different uprights without the use of screws, but these are proprietary designs of each manufacturer and therefore are considered non-standard parts.
How do the different profiles come together?
The joining is mainly done using self-drilling point galvanized screws. In some cases it is possible to perform welding using the MIG technique.
As we saw before, some manufacturers offer special profiles with fins and flanges specially designed to function as interlocks between the C and U profiles; they are always used on walls or ceilings that do not support loads; In those profiles that will receive loads, it is important to always use screws or, if the case requires it, welding.
Is it possible to build roofs with steel framing?
Yes. In fact, it is one of the favorite uses of builders, since it greatly increases the useful life time with respect to traditional beams such as tongue and groove, and gives greater strength to the whole.
What differences does it have with dry construction?
The main difference lies in the construction method used, which at first glance seems similar.
Dry construction basically consists of placing plasterboard plates (drywall) on frames that can be made of wood or aluminum, using screws for this. To do this, special tools are used, such as:
These spatulas have been manufactured to work more efficiently in construction joints. There are, for example, flexible models that allow access to corners and small spaces, and other models with a metal stop for jobs that require greater strength on the part of the tool. An advantage of this type of spatulas is that they have been specifically designed for these tasks and therefore, they are the best alternative to consider!
other model of spatulas that should not be missing, is what is known as corner, for application both indoors and outdoors. They are used to spread the putty in external and internal angles of the plates used in the dry construction.
A recent addition is the Putty Plates with Support Pad, which improve comfort and grip, minimizing injuries.
construction with steel framing, on the other hand, makes use of C and U profiles made of galvanized steel, which gives greater rigidity to the structure. The coatings, moreover, are generally multi-layered and can be made of almost any material, although drywall is used in the first layer as a fire-fighting measure. The union is done in all cases with self-drilling screws, both to join the profiles together and to fasten the plates to the profiles.
Continuing with the differences between both construction systems, drywall and steel framing, the separation between the different profiles is smaller in the steel framing, to allow greater solidity to the structure; usually between profile and profile there is a distance of no more than 16 inches, while in drywall construction these distances are usually greater.
In summary: while drywall construction is useful indoors, its use to build houses with more than one floor is not recommended, since the profiles are not particularly resistant. The steel framing, on the other hand, allows to achieve a great solidity when it is built correctly (using, for example, the technique of creating lattices with the beams) and also allows its use in floors, ceilings and walls alike, both indoors and outdoors.
In the different stages of construction, it is important to consider the agility and precision that laser levels can add to the job, more and more professionals are using them.