Summary: Steel framed houses are stronger than wood framed houses, provide home design flexibility, resistance to wind, earthquake, and wood rot and are a good cost effective and green alternative to wood framing.
The first time I saw a steel framed house I was impressed. At the time, I thought it had to be the best way to build a house.
I don’t know if it is the best way to build a new home, but it certainly is one of the best ways to build a house if you live in locales that are subject to hurricanes, high humidity, or other forces of nature such as tornadoes and earthquakes.
The biggest problem I see with steel framed homes is finding skilled labor to erect the house.
But as steel framing grows in popularity, this problem should alleviate itself.
The difference between steel framing and wood framing is how the framing members are cut and fastened. To cut steel, a carbide blade, or equal, is required. And, steel framing uses screws and screw guns vs. wood framing which uses nails, nail guns, or hammers.
The benefits of steel framing are numerous. Here are a few:
Steel framing weighs 66% less than wood framing.
Wall studs are pre-drilled for electrical wiring.
When wood framing dries out after construction is finished it can twist and shrink causing drywall nail pops and seam splits. Not so with steel.
Because steel doesn’t burn or help spread fire, you might be able to save on homeowner insurance.
Because steel is strong, a home designer can be more flexible with floor and ceiling spans.
For more information, here is a good article from Home Innovation Research Labs (Formerly, NAHB (National Association of Home Builders) Research Center) called Cold Formed Steel Framing.