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Steel Frame

Steel Frame Construction

Traditional steel frame construction uses thick and strong posts and beams (usually with I- or H-shapes) to create the structure of the building.

It is extremely strong for its weight and resists very well to traction. Thus it allows for spectacular cantilevered constructions. Building is very fast but requires cranes and (usually) welders.

However, steel by itself is very bad for insulation. So it must be combined with other materials like SIPS panels for the hull of the building.

Steel frame is often associated with large buildings, but has been used for residential buildings since the 50’s – starting with notorious mid-century modernists and the famous “case study houses”.

Some like the honesty of the material and like to keep it visible in the house, while others hide the posts and beams inside the walls and floors.

steel frame construction modern
Steel frame was famously used for lots of the “case study houses”, the early mid-century modernists.

Steel frame is a smart building system:

  • extremely strong for its weight
  • allows for large overhangs and cantilevers
  • fast construction
  • can be prefabricated
  • can be combined with almost any other building material for the hull
steel is often used for large buildings and skyscrapers
steel frame construction barn house
Steel frame used for a simple barn house, with concrete foundation and wooden roof
Steel allows for spectacular overhangs

Limitations of Steel Frame

  • requires cranes and specialized labor
  • conducts heat/cold to the inside if not insulated
  • will contract/expand at different rates than other materials when the temperature changes, so precautions must be taken to avoid cracks (or make sure the steel frame is protected inside a well-insulated hull)
  • limited flexibility to make manual adaptations on-site