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Understanding Construction: What is Light Gauge Steel Framing?

What does light gauge steel offer that other materials can’t? You might be surprised to learn that light steel doesn’t really mean it’s weak. It is of course light – which is a good thing if you care about transportation costs, and yet incredibly strong pound per pound.

In fact, using this building material saves you considerable time and money, without sacrificing on quality or structural integrity. Seems too good to be true?

Whether you’re an engineer, architect, or general contractor, it’s important to know about light gauge steel framing. This blog serves as a primer covering the essentials you need to know about LGS, or light gauge steel. 


Heavy vs Light Gauge Steel Framing
To start this off, light gauge steel framing is widely popular and used in construction projects around the world. It’s reliable and innovative and it has actually surpassed wood framing in many respects, construction and design alike.

Light gauge steel framing is a lot like wood framing, however, the wood framing pieces are replaced by thin sections of steel. They are cold-formed, which means they’re formed at room temperature, as opposed to structural steel. They can be bent and made into any shape.

Heavy, or “structural” steel, is hot-rolled. This is a process whereby thicker pieces are formed while molten-hot. Cold-formed sections are flat pieces sent through rollers to be shaped into C, Z, or S-shaped sections.

One con of structural or heavy steel is it’s weight. Its transportation requires heavy trucks and its placement requires cranes. Therefore, it’s not used as often in light commercial or residential construction.

Depending on the project needs, medium-size construction can benefit from either structural steel or light gauge.

Light gauge steel framing

What Is Light Gauge Steel Framing?
Steel members are constructed into a frame. Then, for the load-bearing wall, the steel members are covered on both sides with dry sheeting. The frame system of the building is then completed with steel and connections between the members, which are created with screws that are self-tapping and self-drilling.

To protect from fire, the steel is coated with zinc or zinc and aluminum. This is also known as “galvanized” steel. This process protects the steel from corrosion. The thickness of this coating can vary depending on the environment it will eventually be used in. For example, pieces for marine environments need a thick coating, while those for drier regions will need less.

Structural sections of steel will need to be between one and three millimeters in thickness. Non-structural areas will be one to two millimeters thick. These correspond in some respects to the wood members, commonly 2″x4″ and 2″x6″.

Versatility of Cold Formed Steel
Pre-punched sections are usually ordered by the contractor. These have holes in them, pre-made by the factory, for wires and plumbing to easily pass through. Insulation fills with gaps between the pieces of steel.

You can also use this type of construction for non-structural framing. Examples include external cladding and interior partitions. In fact, the original use for this type of construction was for interior office partitions.

Now that you know more about steel framing, let’s compare it to wood framing.

Light Gauge Steel vs Wood Framing
Light gauge steel has many advantages over wood framing:wood framed building

Light yet strong, allowing fast building without heavy equipment or tools

 Everything can be done by hand if used to build a home

Your main tool is a handheld screw gun

Larger spacing between members due to higher strength compared to wood frames

Can be shaped into any form

Can be insulated with many different materials

Easy to modify at any point

There are many products and systems to help with light gauge steel construction

Light gauge steel structures are fire-proof. Many types of buildings require this. To make steel fire-proof, it’s coated with fire-rated sheeting. Also, since it doesn’t decompose, warp, shrink, or rot like wooden structures, it’s a great material to use if termites attack.

Note: Any light framed structure will more easily allow sound to pass through compared to solid masonry. Also, If light gauge steel isn’t properly and adequately coated with fire-rated drywall or sheeting, it will easily succumb to fire damage. 

<<Learn how metal and wood studs differ in more detail here>>

What is Revit Framing Software?
Autodesk Revit helps you make 3D models during pre-construction. Each component of your building will be identified by its function and this gives users more creative and executive control over construction documentation.
Some people might incorrectly see Revit as AutoCAD’s rival. AutoCAD is a computer-aided drafting tool with 2D and 3D drawing capabilities. However, Revit has more to offer and has already replaced AutoCAD.

StrucSoft Solutions offers professional-grade Revit framing software. You can model, coordinate, engineer, and manufacture using MWF. With StrucSoft, you can take advantage of training, BIM services, custom programming, and much more.

StrucSoft’s light gauge steel Revit’s allow you to create complex steel structures with the support of a great team available anytime for advice, tips, and answers to any questions you may have. This light gauge steel framing software produces precise manufacturing data and has built-in intelligence capabilities.

Streamline the Job With Light Gauge Steel
Your budget, productivity, and workload will become more efficient by choosing light gauge steel framing. Help streamline your project. And remember, “light” steel doesn’t mean “weak” steel.

Termites, fire, and rot are no match for this type of framing, while wood is a magnet for them. Forget using heavy machines and cranes – always needed with structural steel – when you can do it all by hand (and a few tools) for small to medium projects!

If you are interested in finding out what StrucSoft can do for you, start your free trial

For more information on our products or design services, visit strucsoftsolutions.com or email us at info@strucsoftsolutions.com.

 


SSStrucSoft Solutions | Graitec Group is the market leader in comprehensive Autodesk® Revit®-based BIM framing, with both off-the-shelf and custom solutions targeting the AEC and fabrication sectors. Our star solution MWF simplifies complex Revit® framing with its powerful range of tools for modeling, inter-trade clash detection, custom construction documentation and optional output to CNC machines.

 

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