Introduction to Cold-Formed Steel Framing

Steel studs are often preferred over wood because of the increased strength and durability offered by this iron alloy. Steel is strong, resistant to moisture and lasts a long time, making it ideal for framing. There are different types of steel, however, one of the most popular of which is cold-formed steel (CFS).

What Is Cold-Formed Steel Framing

Cold-formed steel framing refers to the use of CFS studs to frame a building. Just because two studs are made of steel doesn’t necessarily mean that they feature the same type of steel. CFS studs are made using a special process in which steel materials are rolled – at or near room temperature – into various shapes to create steel products such as studs and joists. These CFS products are then installed to create the frame of a building.

Cold-Formed vs Hot-Formed Steel: What’s the Difference?

The key difference between CFS and hot-formed steel is that the former involves a room temperature production process, whereas the latter involves a heated production process. With hot-formed steel, the steel materials are heated to temperatures of 1,700 degrees Fahrenheit or higher. This makes the steel easier to manipulate and bend but at the cost of strength. The high temperatures to which hot-formed steel is exposed causes structural changes, making it difficult to manipulate.

Benefits of Cold-Formed Steel Framing

There are several benefits to using CFS studs to frame a building, one of which is increased strength. According to the American Iron and Steel Institute, CFS steel products have an average yield strength of 33 to 50 kilopounds per square inch (ksi). They are stronger than hot-formed steel products, making them a particularly attractive choice for commercial framing.

CFS framing is also cost effective for construction companies. It’s easier to manufacture than hot-formed steel, resulting in a lower price. Furthermore, the standardized specifications of CFS promotes faster installation, allowing construction companies to finish their projects more quickly.

Like all steel products, CFS isn’t susceptible to rot, mold or termites. Since its made of inorganic material, it won’t succumb to moisture damage, nor will wood-boring pests feast on it.

Because of their room temperature manufacturing process, CFS products are limited to just a few basic shapes. The good news, however, is that framing studs, joists and other components are available in CFS.

To recap, CFS framing involves the use of cold-formed steel studs, joists and other components. The CFS components are made by pressing and rolling steel at room temperature. It’s a simple yet effective process for creating high-quality framing components.

As a commercial installer, UBS is a leader in metal stud framing. Contact us for a quote on your next office building, high rise or apartment complex. 303.466.7200.

Commercial Construction: How to Prevent Drywall From Cracking

It’s not uncommon for drywall to crack either during or after installation. While small hairline cracks are usually harmless, larger cracks can create weakness points within the walls and expose framing studs to moisture. However, there are steps that commercial construction companies and contractors can take to protect drywall from phenomenon.

Choose the Right Type

First, choose the right type of drywall for the job. Although most drywall is made of calcium sulfate dihydrate (gypsum), there are variations, each of which has its own unique characteristics. Mold-resistant drywall, for instance, features a paperless backing and chemically treated surface to discourage the growth of mold. Fire-resistant drywall, on the other hand, is designer with thick fire-resistant materials. Choosing the right type of drywall will minimize stress and reduce the risk of cracking.

Use the Right Compound

It’s also important to use the right compound when installing drywall. Also known as joint compound, this product is used to seal joints between drywall sheets. Skip the lightweight compound and, instead, choose a general-purpose compound for stronger adhesion and longevity.

Avoid Overcutting

Use caution when cutting your drywall to ensure that you don’t accidentally cut too much. Overcutting, even if it’s only by a few inches, will affect the way in which the drywall fits. The presence of large gaps and openings may stress the drywall to the point where it develop cracks. You can prevent this from happening by cutting your drywall to the correct size. And remember, you can always cut away additional drywall material, but you can’t add it back.

Don’t Break Paper With Fasteners

When securing drywall to the framing studs, try to avoid penetrating the outer paper layer with the screw or fastener head. Some contractors believe that driving fasteners deeper into drywall creates a stronger hold. However, it actually weakens the drywall by making it susceptible to cracking and other forms of damage. Drive fasteners just deep enough to secure the drywall to the framing studs, without penetrating the outer paper layer.

Sand Gently

After securing drywall to the framing studs, you may want to sand it down to create a smooth surface. To protect against cracking, however, you should sand gently while applying only minor force. Start with 12-grit sandpaper and gradually work your way up to larger grit paper.

Dealing With Cracks

You don’t have to replace a sheet of drywall just because it’s cracked. You can often fill small holes and cracks with joint compound. If it’s a large hole or crack, adding fiberglass mesh tape to the area before applying the compound can help hold it together.

As a commercial installer, UBS is a leader in metal stud framing. Contact us for a quote on your next office building, high rise or apartment complex. 303.466.7200.

5 Tips for a Green Construction Project

Green construction is a building methodology that centers around the use of environmentally friendly and energy-efficient materials, systems and processes. Although it’s been around for decades, it’s become increasingly popular in recent year – and for good reason. Green construction offers cost-savings benefits to both construction companies as well as tenants and property owners who occupy the newly constructed space. To take advantage of these benefits, construction companies should consider the following tips.

#1) Recycle and Reuse

When possible, construction companies should recycle or reuse materials rather than disposing of them. According to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), only 40 percent of all building-related construction and demolition (C&D) materials are recycled or reused. From drywall and steel to electrical wires, insulation and even glass windows, though, countless C&D materials can be recycled.

#2 Energy-Efficient Lighting

According to the Lawrence Berkley National Laboratory, lighting accounts for up to 40 percent of the average commercial building’s energy usage. Whether it’s a high-rise apartment complex or a multi-tenant commercial office building, using energy-efficient lighting promotes a greener construction project while reducing energy costs in the process. Traditional incandescent lighting has the shortest lifespan and consumes the most energy of all modern lighting technologies. Compact fluorescent lighting (CFL) or light-emitting diode (LED) is a smarter choice. Both of these alternative lighting technologies last longer and use less energy than their incandescent counterpart.

#3) ENERGY STAR HVAC

When choosing a heating, ventilation and cooling (HVAC) system for a building, construction companies should consider an ENERGY STAR-certified model. These systems are designed with stringent specifications to achieve a higher level of energy efficiency than traditional models. When used in conjunction with proper building practices, an ENERGY STAR-certified HVAC system can lower a building’s cooling costs by up to 30 percent.

#4) Water Conservation

Construction companies shouldn’t overlook water usage in their projects. Water conservation technologies like low-flush toilets and low-flow showerheads can reduce a building’s water usage and help property owners save money on utility bills.

#5) Eco-Friendly Materials

Another tip for a green construction project is to use eco-friendly building materials. Bamboo, for example, has become a popular alternative to hardwood flooring. With an average growth rate of 3 to 5 feet per year, bamboo is a fast-growing plant that’s easy to harvest and perfect to use as a flooring material. Even steel is considered an eco-friendly building material, as it’s easy to recycle. While its exact content varies depending on the product, most stainless-steel products consist of roughly 60 percent recycled material.

As a commercial installer, UBS is a leader in metal stud framing. Contact us for a quote on your next office building, high rise or apartment complex. 303.466.7200.

Humidity Control Solutions for Construction Sites

Humidity control is a challenge faced by many commercial construction companies. When left unchecked, humidity can contribute to mold and mildew while also damaging the building’s structure in the process. Thankfully, though, there are ways to control humidity on construction sites.

What Is Humidity and How Does Affect Construction Sites?

Water is all around us in the form of moisture vapor, known as humidity. The term “relative humidity” is used to describe the amount of moisture in the air relative to what the air can hold as its current temperature. A relative humidity of 50 percent, for instance, means the air is holding half the amount of moisture vapor that it can hold at its current temperature. As the relative humidity on a construction site increases, it can pose serious problems.

Some of the most common problems associated with high humidity – defined as a relative humidity of 60 percent or higher – include the following:

• Mold
• Paint damage
• Degradation of drywall and related building materials
• Wood swelling and warpage
• Corrosion of metal materials
• Electrical system failure
• Increased risk of respiratory ailments

Prevent the Intrusion of Water

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), preventing the intrusion of water is the first step to controlling humidity problems. Whether it’s melted snow, frost, rain runoff or wet materials, the presence of water contributes to high humidity. As the water evaporates, it turns into moisture vapor that’s able to saturate walls and surrounding structures. So, construction companies should use caution to prevent water from entering the building or site on which they are working.

Air Conditioning

Once the HVAC system and exterior walls are constructed, using the building’s air conditioning can also keep humidity levels in check. Air conditioning systems have two primary goals: to lower the ambient temperature and reduce humidity levels. Even if the building doesn’t have working air conditioning, construction companies may still be able to use window units, which function the same way.

Dehumidifier

Perhaps the most effective solution for controlling humidity is a dehumidifier. This device lives up to its namesake by lowering the humidity level of the surrounding space. It works by extracting moisture from the air, either storing this water in a tank or draining it through a hose. There are even some dehumidifiers designed specifically for commercial applications.

It’s nearly impossible to remove all moisture vapor from the air, and that’s okay. Some moisture vapor is perfectly fine. When humidity levels remain elevated for a prolonged length of time, though, it can cause serious problems. These tips can help construction companies better control the humidity at their job sites.

As a commercial installer, UBS is a leader in metal stud framing. Contact us for a quote on your next office building, high rise or apartment complex. 303.466.7200.