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Strength and Durability

Custom wall panels - Metro Metal Supply

By Metal Construction News;

Steel has a stronger strength-to-weight ratio than wood and even flexes with force—one reason for its success on large construction projects. Its ductile nature helps it withstand high winds, earthquakes and other stressors. Dunbar contends that while there is a perception that steel is stronger than wood, strength is really a function of design loads and both products are designed for the applied loads as needed. “Wood is generally stronger in compression due to it being a solid member versus rollformed light-gauge steel,” he adds. “In contrast, steel would be stronger in tension. Overall, steel has a stronger strength-to-weight ratio against heavier wood.”

Flood believes a very important focal comparison point is the “drastically higher part quality found with light-gauge steel: dimensional accuracy, dimensional consistency, straightness.” “These properties clearly distinguish light-gauge steel as a higher quality building product to both install and rely upon,” he adds. “As far as durability goes, light-gauge steel is impervious to the elements, bugs and mold. That certainly cannot be said of wood products.”

Steel is also dimensionally stable, meaning it won’t shrink, split, warp or crack; this helps prevent costly repairs and additional material purchasing. It will not require the frequent repairs and replacements that are common to wood components due to fire, rot, fungus, warping and infestations. Wood may require chemical termite treatments or pressure-treated lumber. Also, Dunbar says, “Steel does not weather and will not sustain mold and fungus, which creates an unsafe environment for occupants. Wood by nature is/was a living entity and can sustain and feed mold and fungus. Any termite or insect infestation is also neutralized by framing with cold-formed steel.”

Metal framing withstands earthquakes, high winds, heavy snow and hurricanes better than wood framing. In the event of a fire, light-gauge steel framing improves the amount of time available for egress prior to structural collapse. Light-gauge steel-framed structures are also safer for the firemen who are tasked with working a fire emergency in or near the structure. Flood explains that during flooding and partial submergence— typical in hurricanes—light-gauge steel framework can be fully preserved and reused in place. “The coverings may require replacement, but the framing most certainly does not.”

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