Blue Sky Homes believes that steel homes offer significant advantages over the traditional wood construction techniques commonly used on North America. The positive attributes of steel over wood as a building material have been well chronicled. They include:
Steel can be used to cantilever dramatic wings and balconies. Where wood sags, steel holds its shape. Thus it’s the perfect material for creating the wide-span interior spaces that modern consumers prefer.
In earthquakes, the earth’s lateral movements shake a house side to side. This induces a twist, or racking, of the structure, as inertia delays the movement of the upper part of the structure. Thus the points of connection in the structure – beam to column to foundation – must be extremely strong and rigid enough to hold the building steady as it shakes. Earthquakes also produce up-and-down movements that put enormous sudden loads on vertical members. Steel is much better able to bear these sudden compressive shocks than is wood – in part because it is a more stable material. * A precision product. Steel is manufactured to exacting tolerances. Wood, on the other hand, is an inconsistent material due to its very nature.
While not entirely fireproof – it melts at high temperatures – steel is far more fire resistant than wood. * Pest-proof. Steel frames are impervious to termites and other wood-eating pests. Termites are an even greater source of damage to homes than fire. For example, residents of Hawaii spend $100 million to prevent, control and repair damage from the Formosan termite. * Mold-resistant. Wood acts as a food for mold. In the right conditions mold proliferates in wood houses. Problems with mold in houses have become the bane of the home insurance industry. Mold does not grow on steel. And because steel framing members are straighter and fit together more precisely, the home’s interior finish work offers fewer cracks and holes for mold spores to penetrate.
Steel framing materials used in residential construction are normally galvanized to protect them from corrosion. Steel galvanized with molten zinc has a life expectancy of more than 200 years.
Steel can be recycled countless times. In fact 64 percent of all steel products are recycled, more than glass, paper, plastic, and aluminum. In general, light-gauge steel framing contains at least 25 percent recycled steel. The steel used in Blue Sky Homes’ projects contain up to 80 percent recycled material. Builders who use steel products can win points for environmental effectiveness under the LEED rating system sponsored by the U.S. Green Building Council. In addition, steel has less job site wastage because its quality is more consistent. The Steel Framing Alliance cites 20 percent wood wastage from quality concerns, vs. 2 percent for steel.
Many environmental organizations recommend the use of steel framing for chemically sensitive homeowners who want good air quality. Steel does not have to be treated for insects, and is free of resin adhesives and chemicals that are normally prevalent in other construction materials. Steel also dos not emit any volatile organic compounds (VOCs).