Floor joists are horizontal beams that support the subfloor sheathing by providing it with stiffness so loads are transferred to the vertical beams of the structure. Although commonly made of wood, more and more builders opt for steel floor joists for several reasons.
This blog gives 10 reasons steel floor joists are the prime choice to achieve a robust and reliable foundation.
|10 Benefits of Using Steel Floor Joists
Benefit #1: Steel Has Exceptional Strength
Steel is known for its high load-bearing capacity, meaning the material can support heavy loads. When floor joists are made of steel, they can resist high tension with no concerns of breaking, warping, sagging, twisting, or deforming. Because of steel’s rigidity, it does not change shape. Unlike timber, it efficiently retains its structural integrity even when subjected to significant loads. This characteristic also allows steel floor joists to span longer distances.
Benefit #2: Steel Flooring Saves Time and Money
Construction projects aren’t considered fast-paced; however, they are generally time-sensitive, often with deadlines driven by contractual obligations. As a result, builders try to minimise the required time needed to cut materials, mainly on-site. This is not a problem with steel flooring, including steel joists, as it requires minimal to no cutting time, making the whole system incredibly quick to install.
Because the steel joists are prefabricated offsite, they do not have to be cut, as they are made according to the project’s specifications. Therefore, they are ready to be installed once they reach the construction site. Shorter installation times lower labour and total costs, which is why steel is considered an economical option for many building projects.
Benefit #3: Steel Floor Joists Offer Design Flexibility
You may already know that timber joists are not that forgiving when it comes to architectural layouts. While it is true that you can cut and alter wood floor joists on-site, steel joists offer more precision when it comes to the customizability attained during the fabrication process itself. Unlike wood, steel joists can be engineered to accurately meet load requirements and deflection criteria. There’s a much higher level of design flexibility, which timber joists cannot easily achieve.
Also, steel has a slim profile, allowing it to fit smaller vertical spaces than timber, which is a bulkier material. Not only that, but steel is also flexible on its own. It is, therefore, suitable for unconventional floor shapes, such as curved, angled, and cantilevered floors.
Benefit #4: Steel Floor Joists are Excellent for Large Spaces
With high load-bearing and long-span capabilities, steel joists can support large floor areas, even those that will accommodate significant loads. Your flooring will go the distance – literally – as it will not require the assistance of support walls or columns. This quality is why steel joists are the primary option for open floor layouts in large areas without obstruction.
Benefit #5: Avoid Rot and Termite Problems
Rotten flooring is common with wood, even those that are treated to work against pests. If you want to avoid replacing damaged floors, using materials that do not attract termites and other pests is best. They should also not hold excess moisture, which is one of the biggest causes of rot.
Steel is not susceptible to mould and decay, unlike wood. The material itself does not give fungi and bacteria a favourable environment for them to thrive and multiply. Because of its rot resistance, steel joists ensure that your floor retains structural durability and integrity.
Benefit #6: You Have Less Maintenance Duties to Fulfil
Steel floor joists have fewer maintenance requirements, especially when compared to wood floor joists. Regular sweeping and dusting using a broom, vacuum cleaner, or soft brush can help to remove accumulated debris.
Be sure to have the joists inspected periodically by a professional who will check for signs of damage and structural issues. Inspections usually cover the fasteners, welds, and other connections. If there are cracks, loosening, or other signs of wear, the joists can quickly be addressed.
Benefit #7: Steel Joists are Fire Resistant
Many people take the benefits of fire-resistant construction for granted. But it should be one of the biggest construction goals as it helps protect human life. Fire-resistant materials, such as steel, can aid in preventing the rapid spread of fire, which is necessary if you live in a bushfire-prone area.
Steel joists, being fire resistant, also assists in reducing the release of gases that can be deadly to plants, animals, and of course, human occupants. Because the rate of fire propagation is slowed down, people have more time to evacuate their homes or buildings safely.
Benefit #8: Steel is Mould-Resistant
Just like fire resistance, mould resistance in construction is significant but often underappreciated. Mould growth can have detrimental health effects on humans, not only those with allergies and respiratory conditions. Using mould-resistant materials, such as steel, can help reduce mould growth, which also promotes healthy indoor air quality.
Another reason why mould resistance in construction materials is essential is to retain the structural integrity of the building. Mould can easily damage joists and other components, such as wood, insulation, and drywall. They weaken and degrade, which eventually leads to structural damage. If not treated immediately, you will have to spend a lot of money for repair, or the components may need complete replacement.
Benefit #9: Steel Floor Joists are Not Susceptible to Rust
Steel framing can last for more than 300 years when not exposed to water. A forensic study involving steel-framed housing built over 40 years ago in Oahu, Hawaii, showed no signs of corrosion. The secret behind the long lifespan of steel is its zinc coating which acts as a physical barrier. It also has cathodic protection, a corrosion control technique that involves the application of direct electrical current to the structure to counter the natural electrochemical reactions that eventually cause rusting.
Benefit #10: Steel Offers Many Environmental Benefits
Steel joists are not just friendly to your pocket but the environment, as well. That’s why it is a great alternative to wood, which can degrade quickly and therefore requires frequent replacements.
There is little waste produced when using steel framing materials, unlike other building materials. This also lowers disposal costs whilst reducing the need to drive waste to local landfills. Steel is also recyclable, allowing you to recycle used floor joists once they reach the end of their life cycle. Because of this, deforestation is minimised, preserving forests vital to biodiversity, carbon sequestration, and environmental health.
Steel floor joists offer these 10 benefits and more! If you wish to incorporate them into your next construction project, contact Steel Frames WA and learn how we can supply you with quality steel floor joists.