Pros & Cons of Steel Frame Homes


Frequently used in commercial construction applications, steel building frames were largely overlooked in residential construction for many years. This is slowly changing as homeowners and builders embrace the safety advantages and increased durability of steel framing. While steel framing does have advantages, it has some drawbacks, as well -- most notably its poor insulation ability. Steel framing also requires some special tools and know-how to construct.

Steel Durability

  • Perhaps the most significant benefit of steel framing is its durability. Unlike traditional wood framing, steel does not warp or expand. It is also better equipped to deal with water damage, since it does not rot and is highly resistant to fungus. Steel is also completely unappealing to termites, carpenter ants and other insects that feed on wood. In addition, steel frames are able to withstand level-9 earthquakes and wind speeds of more than 150 miles per hour.

Safety Features

  • The steel frame inside a building is grounded directly to the earth. This allows the entire frame of the house to act as a lightning rod, harmlessly discharging the current of a lightning strike into the ground. Steel framing also discharges currents from electrical leakage, which occur when punctured or otherwise damaged electrical wiring “leaks” electricity into the home. In addition, steel framing is not combustible and will not add fuel to a house fire, prompting many insurance companies to offer a steel frame discount on homeowner’s insurance.

Energy Efficiency

  • Despite its many benefits, steel framing is not energy-efficient. Steel conducts heat 300 to 400 times faster than wood, reducing the insulating properties of wall insulation by 60 percent. This occurs due to a phenomenon known as thermal bridging, in which heat takes the most conductive path. The most conductive path in a steel frame home is the steel itself, and heat will move quickly from inside your home to the steel studs in the walls. In addition to leaving you cold, thermal bridging can create black staining on the cold portions of the walls. You can combat this energy loss by using extra insulation or insulation materials with a higher rating. Spacing the steel studs further apart in the walls also helps by creating fewer thermal bridges.

Special Installation

  • Steel frame houses were first introduced in the United States after World War II. In response to returning GIs' demand for housing, the Lustron Co. built 2,500 steel frame homes before filing for bankruptcy in 1950. Interest in metal-framing then waned but was renewed in the 1990s. The construction industry has been slow to adopt this home-building method, however, largely because of the expenses involved. Although steel housing frames allow for rapid assembly, building them does require some specialized tools and knowledge. Contractors are sometimes slow to embrace new building techniques because of the added expense of training personnel and purchasing special equipment.


  • Photo Credit vora/iStock/Getty Images
Promoted By Zergnet


You May Also Like

  • The Advantages of Steel Frame Buildings

    Although steel has its disadvantages as a building material, ... Attaching a steel-frame for interior house stairs can be time consuming and...

  • Steel Frame Vs. Wood Frame Manufactured Homes

    A steel framed manufactured home would cost about $170 more per year to heat and cool. ... Steel frame homes are impervious...

  • Steel Homes Vs. Stick Built

    Steel Homes Vs. Stick Built. When ... the average material cost for a steel-built home is 14 percent higher than for a...

  • Steel Frame House vs. Timber Frame Houses

    Steel Frame House vs. Timber Frame Houses. The frame of the house is like its skeleton, ... Advantages and Disadvantages of Steel...

  • DIY: Steel Houses

    DIY: Steel Houses. Steel-framed construction is a safe, economical, ... reduced time to erect the frame and the elimination of pest problems,...

  • Advantages & Disadvantages of Latticed Portal Frames

    Advantages & Disadvantages of Latticed Portal Frames. ... and of all steel portal frames, for that matter -- is their poor fire...

  • Building Metal Frame Houses

    A metal frame house can be built by anyone with the skills to construct a stick-built house. Framing materials cost about the...

  • History of Steel Frame Homes

    Steel- and metal-frame homes in the United States are a relatively new residential construction choice, but they have been popular in various...

  • Pros & Cons of Steel Bathtubs

    Pros & Cons of Steel Bathtubs. A bathtub can be both functional and attractive. When building or remodeling a home, ... Pros...

  • Building a Metal Frame

    Metal frames are made using a variety of different methods. Welding and soldering metal is one way to attach metal to metal....

  • Awnings: Pros & Cons

    However, while the metal frames of fabric awnings may also last 20 years, the fabric will need replacing periodically. ... Pros &...

  • The Disadvantages of Steel Structures

    The Disadvantages of Steel Structures. ... The Advantages of a Steel Structure. Building a structure starts with a foundation and framing materials.

  • The Advantages of a Steel Structure

    Building a structure starts with a foundation and framing materials. The framing of a construction project is the bones around which the...

  • How Much Does it Cost to Frame a House?

    The cost of framing a house depends on which type of frame is used. ... A metal frame house can be built...

Related Searches

Read Article

Make an Ikea Lack Table Look Expensive With This Cheap Hack

Is DIY in your DNA? Become part of our maker community.
Submit Your Work!