PATH - A Public Private Partnership for Advancing Housing Technology

PATH Case Study

Strengthening Homes and Businesses


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[IMAGE: Thanks to proper planning, it took Greene Construction only six days to erect the home's steel frame.]


Greene notes that many of his customers need to be educated about the process and the benefits, particularly with the slightly higher price tag attached to a steel-framed home.

"Percentage-wise, the cost difference for the framing is less than 10 percent, so the additional cost is minimal," Greene says. "Still, some reject the slightly higher price or can't come to grips with a different technology."

"On the other hand, some customers know steel is what they want. They were sold on the design flexibility and the structural integrity before ever coming to us. They are more interested in the higher quality, and they aren't concerned about penny-pinching on the bottom line."


Residential steel framing uses cold-formed steel members for walls, floors, and roofs. The framing members are C-sections with standard dimensions similar to wood framing studs. Framing members are generally produced in thicknesses of 12 to 24 gauges with 3-½ and 5-½ widths, equivalent to 2x4s and 2x6s. Manufacturers of steel framing members adhere to strict tolerances, resulting in consistent strength, straightness, and stability. Steel framing provides excellent design flexibility since it can span longer distances than wood. Steel also provides better wind and earthquake resistance.

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Technology Highlights

This project included the following PATH-profiled technologies:

"Steel framing piques the interest of a lot of people. Flexibility is certainly a big seller for many customers. The strength of steel allows you to build designs with much larger open spaces and larger spans than with wood. Throw in the fire resistance, the reduced waste, and how easy it goes up, and you end up with a home that is far superior to wood. And it's easy to recycle."

Greene notes that waste reduction does require planning.

[IMAGE: Homeowners benefit from greater durability, disaster resistance and energy efficiency, plus greater design flexibility.] "When you plan a steel frame correctly, it reduces the amount of waste that goes to a landfill. It goes back to preparation. Since everything we do is cut to length, on-site waste can be carried off in a 50-gallon drum. On a wood frame, it's a couple dump trucks. Typically what we do waste, we just turn around and recycle."

"You can better manage costs as well because steel framing generally has more price stability than wood. You also manage onsite labor costs better since more of the work is done in the office. Then there are the big savings on waste management."

"From a builder's perspective, steel is a product that is going to continue to grow. Currently, less than 5 percent of the residential market is with light gauge steel, but it is becoming more and more attractive to homebuyers. The opportunity for growth is tremendous."

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Content updated on 9/27/2006

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