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How Much Does Metal Framing Cost?

Author: Brian Eckert

Metal Framing Prices

There has been a lot of debate the past several years over whether to use steel framing over traditional wood framing. Each system has its advantages and disadvantages. One constant has remained in the debate, however. Wood is a non-sustainable resource whose price fluctuates with its supply. Metal, on the other hand, has remained steady in cost with new processes and technology coming out every day making it cheaper, stronger, and lighter.

Is Metal Framing Right For You?

Metal framing offers several advantages over wood framing. Studies have shown that a steel frame building is stronger and holds up better against earthquakes, hurricanes, high winds, etc. Steel is also not flammable, so in the event of a fire there is less chance of losing the structure. Metal studs are also made of at least 25% recycled material, and they are completely recyclable for future use. The waste produced is considerably less as well because every piece of stud, no matter how small, can be used. A metal framing system is also much easier to erect than its wood counterpart. Steel will stay straight and true, able to be bent, and the whole structure can be screwed together, as opposed to swinging a hammer all day long.

Costs of Metal Stud Framing

When you’re considering the cost of steel framing, keep in mind that the initial cost of steel vs. wood is higher (add 3% to the total cost of the house). Steel framing materials costs will be lower than wood, but labor costs are usually higher. The average cost of metal framing a house is about $9.50-$11 a square foot. The materials will usually be about 30% of this, about $3 a square foot. The typical two-story house averages 2500 square feet, meaning steel framing of the house would cost approximately $24,000-$25,000. You will, however, save money on the back end. Metal studs do not warp or split, so drywall cracks and screw pops due to wood movement are nullified. Therefore, maintenance costs are lowered. Wood rot, insect damage and mold will not take hold in a steel frame structure, which can save you thousands in repair bills. Insurance costs will be cut due to the lack of flammability, and debris haul-off will be lowered because of the decrease in scrap material.

Advantages of Metal Framing

In addition to the money-saving advantages of metal stud framing, there are several marketing advantages to building with steel. Steel is a “green” material, with the product used being at least 25% recycled and the wreckage being 100% recyclable. Steel also promotes better air quality as it is not organic and does not emit VOC’s (Volatile Organic Compounds) as wood does. Metal stud framing also is much safer in areas prone to high winds and seismic activity.

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