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Steel vs timber frames

Why you should choose to build with Supaloc steel frames

Posted in News

A home’s frame is its core source of stability, and therefore it is imperative that it remains strong and sturdy. It is important to know the facts about steel vs timber frames before building your biggest lifetime investment.

In the ongoing debate about steel vs timber frames, there are a number of myths that may lead to confusion among new home builders. It is essential to understand the implications that your framing choice will have on future costs and maintenance for your home when choosing between steel vs timber frames for your new home.

The risk of building with timber frames

It is well known that timber is the old fashioned method of new home construction. It provides the opportunity for framing errors to be fixed on-site by hammer and nail, which is a cheap and fast option for the new home builder, but not so reassuring for the home owner. Timber frames contain natural imperfections and weak points, making them highly susceptible to damage.  Timber frames can be easily damaged during transport and erection, as well as long-term damage via termite infestation or rot. The costs of this damage can be substantial, and lead to instability of your entire home. In contrast, Supaloc steel frames are precision engineered to be strong, perfectly straight, and most importantly, 100% termite proof.

 

According to Archicentre, in Australia, 1 in every 5 homes will be infested by termites within a five year period1. The costs associated with these infestations are commonly in excess of $40,0002.

The recommended termite inspections and chemical treatments cost an additional $830 a year3, with limited success in the prevention of termite attack. Supaloc steel frames prevent the need for these ongoing costly expenses. In the steel vs timber frame debate, when it comes to protecting your new home from termite damage, steel framing is clearly the right choice.

Steel vs timber frames: movement

There is a common misconception that all steel frames can move or creak, resulting in noise in the home. All framing products undergo some slight movement at fixing points, but it is important to be aware that this does not result in noise in all framing systems. Unlike timber and other steel framing systems, Supaloc steel frames are fixed with patented brackets and connections designed to eliminate movement and prevent noise.

When choosing between steel vs timber frames in your new home, you should know that Supaloc steel frames are precision engineered for silence. You can read more about how the Supaloc system works here.

Conversely to Supaloc being precision riveted and bolted in place, timber frames are butt jointed and fixed with nails. As timber frames experiences different atmospheric conditions such as moisture, and hot and cold, they shift and warp, causing movement, leading to unwanted noise.

In addition, timber frame movement can lead to costly damage of the home interiors, including the cracking of plasterboard. Due to the fact that timber frames are a water-based cellulose product, they shrink and expand with changing environmental conditions. This occurs at a rate that conflicts with plasterboard movement, leading to splitting of the lining surface, cracking cornices and peaking ceiling joints4.

Unlike timber, Supaloc steel frames include a 50 Year Warranty* and will not warp, twist or shrink, therefore providing a solid frame for plasterboard. This prevents the surface from cracking and the cornice from being damaged by frame movement. In the debate on steel vs timber frames, Supaloc steel is clearly the right choice for keeping your home walls straight and true.

Steel vs timber frames: environmental impact

In order to be an environmentally conscious home builder, it is important to assess the materials used in your new home for their environmental impact. So are steel or timber frames better for the environment?

By using steel frames, the need for timber from forests is vastly reduced, and the demolition of natural vegetation to make way for plantations is prevented. In addition, the precision manufacture of Supaloc steel frames means that there is minimal wastage during their creation. Conversely, due to the natural imperfections present in timber, there is a large amount of wastage caused by cutting timber pieces to required lengths, and during the removal of flaws.

Supaloc steel frames are 100% recyclable, and are also created using a percentage of recycled steel. In contrast, timber framing is not recyclable and must be created from new trees for each new frame.

Long-term energy efficiency is also an important consideration when planning an environmentally friendly home. Supaloc steel framing allows for improved seals around doors and windows, and when used in combination with Thermaloc insulation, it creates a highly efficient home in terms of thermal regulation. This significantly reduces the energy required to heat and cool your home, reducing the long term energy consumption compared to a timber framed home.

In the debate on steel vs timber framed homes, be aware of the long-term energy costs on your wallet and on the environment. For more information visit the Supaloc website to read about Environmental Impact.

References

1 Archicentre.com.au – termites and borers

2 CSIRO Call for the immediate declaration of all municipalities (metropolitan Melbourne & regional Victoria) as regions where homes, buildings and structures are subject to termite infestation 13 January 2005

3 Figures based on research into the South Australian termite treatment and inspection industry; costs based on retail averages and correct at time of print, 5 February 2009

4 Coefficient of Thermal Lineal Expansion, Shortley and Williams, 1965

*Click here to read details of the 50 year warranty.

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