History of Steel Framing

Half a century of history

Steel framing has been in Australia for over 50 years.

Solidly established in residential and low rise commercial construction.

Post World War II shortage of building materials led to the development of a steel wall framing system called Econosteel:
• uncoated sections dipped in bituminous paint
• studs and plates connected using tabs and slots
• over 300 houses built in the Canberra area at the time
• system was six times more expensive than equivalent in timber.

In the 1960s an American builder constructed about 50 houses on reclaimed land around the Gold Coast in Queensland, using galvanised frames fabricated similarly to timber and finished with stucco.

Galvanised steel supplier John Lysaght recognised steel’s potential and supported the building of a house by the National Capital Development Council in Belconnen ACT.

In 1968 the first of the “new era” steel framed houses was built at Thornleigh Sydney:
• frame made from 1.2mm thick galvanized steel, nested and welded
• formed the basis of most steel-framed house construction for the next 20 years
• clip together variations were later developed.
• In the 1980s availability of hi-tensile zinc-aluminium alloy coated steel encouraged new systems development.

Computer technology arrived making frame detailing and manufacturing process control faster and more accurate.

Steel frame and truss manufacturing technology quickly caught up with timber frame technology and developed well beyond international practice.

Advanced joining systems and low cost screw and nail fasteners have made manufacture and construction easier, cheaper and more reliable.