Frequently Asked Questions
In the building industry is always good to know
Do we still need to install chemical or physical termite barriers if we use a steel frame?
No. The Building Code of Australia specifies chemical and physical termite barriers only where structural components are subject to termite attack. A steel frame is resistant to termite attack and a house built with a steel frame without a termite barrier is a reasonably safe option for an owner. The safest possible options are a steel frame plus non-structural fixtures of termite-resistant materials, or a steel frame plus a termite barrier.
How much design flexibility do I have?
Almost unlimited. Your local steel frame fabricators are capable of producing virtually any of the single or two-storey home designs seen in the Australian domestic housing market today. Steel framing is especially suitable for difficult or sloping sites.
Are the frames successfully treated for rust prevention at cut edges and drill holes?
Yes! Zinc coated ("galvanized") and zinc/aluminium alloy coated steels are protected from cut-edge corrosion by galvanic action - the coating adjacent to the edge or hole protects the cut area.
How does steel perform with reference to cracking of plaster cornices?
It's superior. Because there is no shrinkage, cornices in steel framed houses can be expected to perform better and look better than in houses of other framing materials.
Do steel framed houses look different?
Yes. Actually they look better! Walls and ceilings do not have ripples or bumps in them, there are no "nail pops" in plasterboard walls, no shrinkage in intermediate floor joists and no sagging roofs.
Why do people decide to build with steel?
Steel is a superior product for long term investment, with added advantages. Steel is light and strong, does not burn, is termite and borer proof and is dimensionally stable - it will not shrink or warp. Steel framing will ensure the structural integrity and high standard of finish of the building long into the future. Using steel is environmentally responsible.
How does the price of steel framing compare with other frame materials?
Very competitively! Due to innovative steel framing system technology, standard house designs can be built at a reasonable price. If you compare a steel frame with a frame of the highest possible quality termite-resistant timber, the price will be competitive.
Is it safe electrically?
Yes. Steel frames are safe because frames are earthed and all new housing is now required to be fitted with RCD safety switches.
Does installing architraves and skirtings present problems for the fixout trades?
No. The use of lighter gauge materials in the frames allows the use of inexpensive needle point screws, or self drilling screws. This may take a little extra effort but they will never spring out. Nailing, or a combination of nails and screws, may also be used to reduce costs, depending on the application and framing system.
Does it cost more for electrical work?
No. The studs and plates can have pre-punched holes to facilitate easy cable installation, and grommets are fitted to protect the cable sheathing.
Is more trade skill required to work with steel framing?
No. In fact some trades benefit. For example, with some systems bricklayers can install the brick ties completely by simply clipping them into the stud. Normally the close up carpenter would fix the brick ties after the brick layer has finished. Plasterers find it easy to work with steel framing because it is so straight and true. Tradesmen who install kitchen and bathroom fixtures similarly find it easy.
All builders usually build with Cypress treated pine or hardwood timber. Termite infestation in timber has to be one of a builder's and homeowner's greatest fears. Ford Timbers' has addressed this in its new range of termite resistant, dead straight DPR Plus structural hardwood products - ideal for all bearer, joist and framing applications. The new DPR Plus range is made from specially selected CCA treated, termite resistant hardwood species which exhibit low shrinkage characteristics.
There are a number of features, which made DPR Plus products so different. These included:
Dead Straight (bow and spring stresses are relieved during milling)
Solid bearers to 6.3 metres
Floor joists to 10.2 metres
Accurately dimensioned to size
Pencil rounded edges for ease of handling. No splinters!
Smooth surfaces make it easier to paint
Cut only from specially selected, durable hardwood species
Low shrinkage rate
High strength rating (F14 and F17)
End trimmed and sealed
Posts (100 x 100) - dead straight both ways
Displays the "natural" look of Australian hardwoods (particularly effective in pole homes)
Immunised against Lyctus Borer
All DPR hardwood products (including the new DPR Plus range) are available for use as framing, sub floor framing, roof trusses, lintels, rafters, battens and posts. They are particularly popular for pergolas, decks, exposed joists and pole home framing.
How is a timber frame house different from a steel frame house?
A modern steel frame house is normally made of a steel frame and an outer supporting wall of brick. A modern timber frame house replaces the steel frame with a timber frame strong enough to carry all the loads of the house. The plasterboard usually covers this internally and a brick, stone or timber 'siding' external finish.
Will a timber frame home last?
Yes. A new timber frame home will last as well as, if not better than, any other type of new home. Softwood timber frame houses have been built in the UK since the 19th Century and are still going strong. Your timber frame home will still be there for your great grandchildren to enjoy ... and beyond.
Will a timber frame house look different?
No. Typically, timber frame houses are clad in brick and look like any other house. But a range of materials is suitable, e.g. stone, block and render, or timber boarding.
Are timber frame homes quiet?
Yes. Modern timber frame systems enjoy better acoustic insulation qualities than masonry and fully conform to, or exceed, the latest Building Regulations. So you'll stay on speaking terms with your neighbours (but not through the wall!)