Not really a new concept, but there is a new product being used for creating steel walls, and it may be coming to a home near you.
I can remember that it was about twenty five years when I worked on my first wall with metal studs in a commercial building. It seemed so quick to put together a non-load bearing wall. I was always curious when I would see this technology in our own homes. I have seen I-beams used in a few homes, but walls seemed to always have a product with wood. Then an architect mentioned that LSBs (lite steel beams) are being used in Australia, which led me to see if they are in the US.
Whether you realize it or not, the way your home is built is changing, quickly. Every time that I have a conversation with a builder lately, it turns to the fact that green building techniques are being adapted into their building practices. We are already discussing advanced framing techniques as becoming standard soon. This means the end of balloon framing.
One concern has been determining how we recycle the materials used in a home. Back in the eighties, it was imagined that homes would be made with studs that were a combination of plastic and wood, but many people thought about metals. They were being used in commercial buildings after all. Lite Steel Beams is the latest development, and it looks to be a material that builders can easily fit into their practices. It is a cold rolled steel that is in the shape of a C : two rectangular shapes attached by a web that runs along the spine. Basically, the manufacturers website states that a builder could use his typical tools to cut and fasten the material. This probably puts it out of reach for most do it yourself homeowners, but not entirely.
I may be wrong, but from the specifications that I read on the site, it may be that the lite steel beams are not ascertained to be meeting the building code yet, which means your local building inspector may not approve it. From what I read, I do not see this being much of an issue though. (If you are a builder or home inspector, you will see that a lite steel beam would be covered by IRC section R603. Look at their data sheet, and compare it to that section). If you are a homeowner, I would go to building department to talk to them about how they feel to ensure that your home’s construction goes smoothly. In Houston, there is a section to teach homeowners about green building techniques and materials, so go ask them.
If you are interested, go check out the manufacturer’s website.To find out about the status of the code compliance report (CCRR-0123), you will have to go to the testing site archtest.com. Although, building homes has always involved a variety of materials, we almost seem stuck for the past hundred years or so. With materials becoming scarcer, maybe those plastic beams are not far off. Personally, I would not mind these metal beams in my home. They appear to address some concerns about strength and usability, so we may see these LSBs sooner rather than later.