Q. Can steel-framed homes be built on piers or concrete slabs?
A. Either. Steel frames can be direct fixed to a concrete slab, which are widely used in Australian homes, or fixed to lightweight, cost effective steel floor systems on brick, concrete or steel piers. It is worth noting that an elevated steel sub-floor system works as an excellent first line of defence against termite invasion.
Q. Is steel framing safe electrically?
A. Yes. Steel frames are safe because frames are earthed and all new housing is required to be fitted with "safety switches" to protect against earth leakage in the wiring.
Q. Should lead flashing and copper pipes be isolated from the steel frame?
A. Yes - these materials should be isolated. In the presence of water they will develop galvanic cells that will result in damage to the protective metallic coating by a process called "bi-metallic corrosion". Isolation is simple: lead flashing can be isolated from the frame using an underlay of plastic membrane, while copper pipes can be isolated from the frame by the incorporation of nylon grommets, or by face-fixing to the studs using plastic clips. Both of these systems also resist water hammer noise.
For a more detailed explanation, refer to BlueScope Steel Corrosion Technical Bulletin CTB-12.
Q. Are the frames treated for rust prevention at cut edges and drill holes?
A. Yes. Zinc coated ("galvanized") and zinc/aluminium alloy coated steels are protected from cut-edge corrosion by galvanic action - the coating adjacent to the edge or hole protects the cut area. For a more detailed explanation, refer to BlueScope Steel Technical Bulletin TB-10.
Q. How should architraves and skirtings be installed to steel frames?
A. The use of light gauge materials in steel frames allows the use of inexpensive needle point self-drilling screws in most cases. This may take a little extra effort but they will never spring out. Nailing, or a combination of nails, screws and adhesive, may also be used to reduce costs, depending on the application and framing system.
Q. How is electrical and data cabling installed with steel framing?
A. The studs and plates normally have pre-punched holes to facilitate easy cable installation, and grommets are fitted to protect the cable insulation.
Q. Is more trade skill required to work with steel framing?
A. No. Constructing and finishing building frames is about geometry, accuracy and familiarity with tools and procedures. Most trade operations with steel framing are the same as with timber. Some trade operations require specific information provided by manufacturers, while others need less information and are simpler.
Q. How does steel perform as a support for wall lining materials and plaster cornices?
A. It's superior, because there is no frame shrinkage to cause cracking and nail popping. Lining materials in steel framed houses can be expected to perform better and look better than in houses built from alternative framing materials.
Q. Can alterations be made to the frame on site?
A. Yes. Most new connection systems allow quick and easy disassembly and reconstruction. Consult your fabricator or system supplier.
Q. Can I extend a steel-framed home at a later date?
A. Of course. Additions are made in the same way as any other building. Furthermore, you can expect that the original steel structure will be straight and true regardless of its age, making the job of matching up the addition easy.