Can You Build a Home with a Metal Frame?

Metal buildings are strong, inexpensive and quick to build. That's great for a barn, garage, storage building or workshop and when our customers see just how economical and adaptable our buildings are, they ask, "Why not make one of those into a house?"

Is it possible to build a house starting with one of our steel frames? Yes! It absolutely is possible. Not only that, but it has quite a few advantages over traditional wood platform framing, over CMU construction, and even over light gauge steel framing.

Wood Framing vs. MBMI's Metal Framing

A traditional wood framed house uses studs, joists and rafters for its frame, usually spaced at 16 inches on center. To prevent fires from spreading too easily, each story of the house is built as a unit, topped with a wood deck. Most houses have wood cladding on their walls, wood sheathing on their roofs and wood interior finishes, as well. That's a lot of material!

The type of steel frame we design at MBMI is much less expensive than a wood frame. It's stronger, too. You'll never have to worry about whether or not the structure can support another story, solar panels or anything else. You also won't have to worry so much about the risk of fire.

Although wood is a renewable resource, we're using it at a faster rate than we can grow it. Steel is fully recyclable, and a steel frame will always contain a substantial percentage of recycled metal.

The more consistent the layer of insulation in the walls and attic, the more energy efficient the house will be. Both wood and steel interrupt the insulation and don't do a very good job insulating, themselves. In the construction business, they're known as "thermal breaks". Our frames have fewer thermal breaks than a standard wood frame.

To summarize,

  • A steel-framed house is stronger than a wood-framed house
  • Wood burns; steel doesn't
  • An MBMI steel house uses less material in its structure
  • Not overusing wood helps to preserve forests and keep wood production sustainable
  • Steel can be - and is! - recycled
  • An MBMI steel house has fewer thermal breaks in its insulation

Light Gauge Steel vs. MBMI's Metal Framing

Light gauge metal framing is a steel imitation of standard lumber, and it shares many of its disadvantages. First it's expensive - usually more expensive than wood and a lot more expensive than our larger metal frames. Second, it has just as many thermal breaks as a wood frame, and they can conduct even more heat than wood does. Finally, a light gauge steel frame is just as complex and difficult to build as a wood frame.

We think that light gauge steel framing fails to take advantage of a lot of steel's innate strengths as a building material.

Will it Look Like a House?

Our standard metal buildings come with metal siding and metal roofing. That's because steel finishes are durable and inexpensive, and they allow us to offer the best possible value. A simple look can be striking and modern, and some people like this kind of look, especially combined with a custom spatial design.

However, many people prefer a more traditional appearance for their home. There is absolutely no reason why a house based on one of our steel frames can't look exactly like a house with standard construction. Our buildings can be constructed with brick veneers. They can be sided with vinyl, stucco or wood.

You can add as much insulation to the walls as you want, and of course the interior can be finished with drywall or with any other standard material.

Since we can custom design a steel frame for your house, you can add anything you want: high ceilings, multiple stories, a garage or carport, or any other useful addition or architectural feature.

We've designed and manufactured a number of steel frames for homes, and we're really excited about this type of project. Request a price quote today. We'd love to discuss how we can help you build your dream house more quickly and for less money than you would have thought possible.