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Steel

Steel is commonly used in the construction of commercial buildings. Builders have only recently started using steel more in residential construction.

Steel buildings use nearly the same framing techniques employed in wood-framed buildings. Construction costs also run about the same. Unlike wood, however, steel is impervious to termites. It provides added resistance to fire and earthquake. Steel ceiling joists can span greater distances than wooden ones, allowing new design possibilities for architects and builders.

But steel conducts heat more than 300 times faster than wood. Steel studs can create "thermal bridges" to the outside of the house. Even the fasteners become a heat loss issue. Screws attached to steel studs can reduce the insulating value of the foam sheathing by 39 percent. Therefore, when selecting this framing method, you need to make sure you insulate properly. In cold climates, the additional insulation required to prevent heat transfer might reduce the cost-effectiveness of steel framing.

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