Framing with little waste using steel (2024)

e are a few things you may notice: first, the number of pieces is precise – there is no wastage. You get what you need, no more, no less. Second, there are instructions. Third, there are labelled bags for each part of the process.

e are a few things you may notice: first, the number of pieces is precise – there is no wastage. You get what you need, no more, no less.

Second, there are instructions.

Third, there are labelled bags for each part of the process.

Now imagine if you could construct buildings like this. Well, you can, using steel-framed buildings produced by FrameTech Systems in Estevan.

The company is owned and operated by Brad Wilhelm. It started operations in September 2014, and is located right in the centre of the Energy City.

“We get an architectural drawing and convert the whole building to steel,” Wilhelm said. Their software will design individual rafters, studs and joist. They just have to click “run” and send it to the machines to be produced. As an example, he pulled up drawings of a three story house destined for Edmonton. The custom built home would have an elevator and grassed terrace on the roof.

Residential, multi-residential as well as light-commercial projects are a few of the applications that steel framing can be used for.

FrameTech’s precision roll-forming machines will take flat steel and form it into studs. Each stud is pre-cut and pre-dimpled for easy assembly. Service holes will be punched where necessary.

The result is something that Wilhelm says, if not like Lego, “Is more like a Meccano set.”

“Every stud is labelled for where it belongs in the wall system,” Wilhelm said. This labelling corresponds with the construction assembly drawings.

As for wastage, he noted there’s less than one per cent waste. A stick-built wooden framed building can have up to 20 per cent waste.

Also, Wilhelm has noticed a decline in the quality of wood available over the last ten years. “We came from wood-building backgrounds. You pay a worker all day to sort lumber, which is not very cost-effective.

“Steel is 30 per cent stronger and lighter than wood. It’s 100 per cent recyclable, non-combustible, it will not split, rot, crack. Steel is naturally mould and pest resistant,” he said.

The steel used is galvanized and has a G90 coating. To prove the point of its resilience, FrameTech assembled a small shack and put it on the corner of their property, leaving it exposed to the elements to show it won’t rust.

Rapid assembly takes place at their Estevan location where they will assemble walls, rafters and floor joists. Every stud is predrilled to make assembly fast and simple. “You just line up the holes and screw the studs together,” he said.

There are holes for running electrical or water lines. Grommets are used to prevent any wear against the edge of the holes. Regular wire can be used, as BX shielded wire is not required. The open web of the floor joist truss design allows for drain pipes to easily pass through.

“Ninety per cent of the buildings we send out are pre-assembled. Then we can go to the site and erect it,” he said.

FrameTech’s own staff or authorized builders do the framing. Wilhelm said it’s 30 per cent faster than stick-built framing with wood. He added he’s seen it done even faster than that. “We can manufacture a 1,600 square foot bungalow in a day in the shop.”

The whole system is engineered. A sub-contracted engineer looks over plans for structures over a certain size. Certain clients, like power utilities and the oilfield prefer having an engineer-stamped project. Additionally, the software will tell you down to the screw if it will pass or fail. Utilizing the FrameTech System can reduce labour costs on an entire project up to 15 per cent, Wilhelm said.

This system of framing also makes it easier for following subtrades, he added. Plumbers, electricians, drywallers, cabinet and finishing carpenter’s times are reduced because of the system’s accuracy and detailed engineering.

FrameTech is a sister-company to Wilhelm’s other venture, Estevan Eaves & Exteriors. The metal-working tools and workers’ skillsets have a lot of overlap.

FrameTech Systems not only services Estevan and area, but they provide their steel framing to Western Canada and the northern United States.

There are other metal framing systems, but they generally are simply another method of stick-built construction, substituting standard sized wood studs for steel stud, resulting in dumpsters full of off-cuts. FrameTech Systems unique technology is one of a kind so far in Canada, according to Wilhelm.

In the oilfield, this system has applications in treater shacks, MCC buildings and jobsite trailers as just some examples.

“Using this construction method, fire rated buildings are easily achieved along with design flexibility,” he said.

As an added bonus, FrameTech’s steel framing system can help protect the environment, preserve our land and benefit our ecosystem, he added.

Framing with little waste using steel (2024)


Framing with little waste using steel? ›

Instead, we use cold-formed

Cold-formed steel (CFS) is the common term for steel products shaped by cold-working processes carried out near room temperature, such as rolling, pressing, stamping, bending, etc. Stock bars and sheets of cold-rolled steel (CRS) are commonly used in all areas of manufacturing. › wiki › Cold-formed_steel
, light-gauge steel made mostly of recycled material. This allows us to build faster, cut down on overall cost, and create near-zero waste. The end result is an incredibly durable home less likely to need maintenance and a longevity to last lifetimes.

Why don't houses use steel studs? ›

Metal studs are not as strong as wood studs. Wood can support more weight than metal studs. Wood studs can be used for load-bearing walls, new cabinets, doorways, and frames.

Is it cheaper to frame with metal studs? ›

Wood Studs vs.

Wood studs are generally less expensive than metal studs. Market fluctuations in the price of wood can make the metal studs' price more competitive. Metal studs can only be used with screws, which cost more than framing nails.

Can you frame a house with steel? ›

A steel frame home is a residence that uses steel frames as its structural support. Traditionally, home construction uses wooden frames for structural support. However, with the increasing need for stability, durability and versatility, steel frames can provide economical and long-lasting solutions.

What are the cons of metal stud framing? ›

The Cons of Metal Studs

It typically requires a miter or circular saw equipped with a metal-cutting blade in conjunction with tin snips. Limited availability of less popular dimensions of metal studs can slow the construction progress. Taping a drywall screw into a metal stud requires practice and patience.

Can you use steel studs in residential? ›

Metal studs have plenty of advantages when you are using them for construction, which makes them a great choice for any sort of structural project, especially for bigger buildings like those that you see in commercial and residential construction.

Are steel studs load bearing? ›

Heavier gauge metal studs are used in load bearing walls and structural applications such as exterior walls. Lighter gauge metal studs are used in non-load bearing applications such as some interior walls, half-walls, and partitions. Framing techniques for metal studs are similar to those of wood construction.

Do carpenters do metal framing? ›

Interior systems carpenters specialize in assembling complex systems such as acoustical ceilings, computer-access flooring, metal framing, wall partitions, and office furniture.

What is the lifespan of a steel frame house? ›


Steel is quite durable and can withstand a hurricane's force, rendering it the best option for your construction. If it is well taken care of, it is likely to outlive you. If you are dedicated to taking care of your steel building, it can last for over 50 years.

Why don't we build houses with steel? ›

Steel-framed houses suffer from relatively poor insulation and low energy efficiency. This is because steel conducts more heat than wood does, reducing the insulating properties by 60% because of thermal bridging. This may lead to higher energy costs.

What is the alternative to steel framing? ›

ICF blocks have ‌higher strength and insulation values than wood or steel studs and a faster, simpler installation process.

What are the negatives about steel? ›

The Cons of Steel Construction

Consequently, the costs of painting and maintaining a steel structure can be high. Steel can also be a conductor of heat, which means it needs to be adequately fireproofed. And lastly, steel can be susceptible to fatigue, fracture or buckling due to manufacturing inconsistencies.

Does steel framing last longer than wood? ›

Structural Integrity

Steel-framing is built to last. Steel frame buildings have less movement overtime because they do not twist, warp, shrink, or buckle, whereas timber frames are much more likely to distort as timber will continue dry and shrink for many years after the tree was cut down.

Are steel studs better than wood studs? ›

Increased disaster resistance: Metal studs are fire and water resistant, making them a more viable option for building a structure that's meant to last. More predictable quality: Unlike wood studs that can be prone to warping, metal studs provide a more dependable level of straightness and consistent quality.

Why are houses made of wood instead of steel? ›

It is capable of insulating heat up to six times more than brick, 15 times more than concrete and 400 times more than steel. Fire resistance. In large-volume pieces, it has high resistance to fire and takes longer to collapse than steel structures. Construction speed and cost reduction.

Why would you not want to use a steel stud on an outside wall of your house? ›

Metal screws are also prone to failure if you install them improperly or if they rust. Constructing a fire-rated building with metal studs requires adding extra layers of fire-resistant materials. Steel stud walls enable flames and smoke to spread faster.


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