Steel Framed Houses: A Buyer’s Guide

steel framed houses

Are you looking for a new way to build your dream home? Imagine owning a beautiful, durable, and energy-efficient steel framed house that can withstand the test of time and harsh Canadian weather conditions.

As a popular choice for those seeking a second home or an eco-friendly alternative, steel-framed homes have gained popularity in Canada due to their many advantages.

In this article, we’ll explore the world of steel-framed homes, compare them to traditional construction methods, and discover why they might be the perfect choice for your next home.

This guide will help you understand the benefits, planning considerations, and common questions about steel-framed homes.

What Is a Steel-Framed House?

barndominiums vaulted ceilingsA steel-framed house is a type of prefab residential construction that uses a steel frame as its primary support structure, in contrast to traditional wood-frame construction. Steel frames offer increased durability, strength, and design flexibility, making them an ideal choice for many homeowners.

Steel-framed homes are built with galvanized steel components, offering a durable alternative to wooden frames that can withstand common issues like warping, rotting, and termite infestations. These types of houses became popular after world war ii as after the war, the need for quick construction increased.

A steel frame home comprises several steel components that work together to create a robust and stable structure. These components include:

  • Steel columns: Vertical support members that bear the weight of the steel buildings
  • Steel beams: Horizontal support members that transfer loads between columns and other support structures.
  • Steel trusses: Triangular structures that provide additional support for the roof and walls.
  • Steel panels: Used for walls, floors, and roofs, providing additional support and insulation.
  • Steel fasteners: Specialized screws, bolts, and brackets that securely connect steel components.

Steel Frame vs. Traditional Wood Frame Construction

When comparing steel frame and traditional wood frame construction, several vital differences emerge:

  • Strength and durability: Steel frames are more robust and more durable than wood frames, making them more resistant to issues like warping, rotting, and termite damage.
  • Building process: For traditional brick homes, the builders have to lay a concrete foundation and then build walls. The floor and roofs are primarily wooden in this case. On the other hand, steel-framed houses use a hot rolled light steel frame with external brick.
  • Design flexibility: Steel frames offer more design freedom than wood frames, allowing for open floor plans, large windows, and unique architectural features.
  • Construction time: Steel frame construction is typically faster than wood frame construction, thanks to pre-fabricated components that can be quickly assembled on-site.
  • Environmental impact: Steel is a recyclable material, making steel frame homes a more eco-friendly option compared to traditional wood frame homes.

What Is the Difference Between a Steel Framed and Brick House?

When comparing steel framed and brick houses, it’s essential to consider the structural, aesthetic, and maintenance differences between the two.

Structural Differences

Lightweight steel framing offers increased design freedom and a faster construction process. On the other hand, brick is heavier and requires more time to complete. Brick construction provides a classic aesthetic appeal and excellent insulation properties.

Aesthetic Differences

luxury modern barndominiumSteel homes can be customized with various cladding materials, offering a modern and sleek appearance. In contrast, brick houses offer a more traditional look, with the charm and warmth of natural brickwork.

Durability and Maintenance Requirements

A steel-framed building generally requires less upkeep and can withstand harsh weather compared to its brick counterparts. Whereas brick houses require periodic maintenance, such as repointing and cleaning, but can still last for centuries with proper care.

Benefits of Steel-Framed Homes

Choosing a steel-framed home comes with numerous advantages over traditional construction methods:

Durability and Strength

Steel beams are highly resistant to issues affecting wooden frames, such as warping, rotting, and termite damage. The steel frame can also withstand harsh weather conditions and natural calamities like hurricanes and earthquakes.

It is an excellent solution for housing as it doesn’t bend or crack. Another important feature of steel is its fire resistance. Steel is not flammable, but wooden frames can catch fire easily.

Energy Efficiency

Insulation steel framed houses feature thermal bridging prevention, resulting in lower energy costs and a more comfortable living environment. Steel-framed homes are more energy efficient as compared to wooden houses. They have properties of thermal regulation that keep them warm in winter and cool in summer. This way, the people living in the house don’t have to spend much on utility bills.

Design Flexibility and Customization

canadian home kitsSteel frames allow for open floor plans, loft spaces, and custom-designed roofing designs, enabling you to create a unique and personalized living space. Steel is a versatile and creative material and offers several flexible designs.

The metal can be cut into various custom lengths and widths, which help you customize your home better. Plus, you can also use steel with other materials, including cement, brick, and wood. However, frames have fewer design options when it comes to the roof. Metal framed roofs rarely offer customization and versatility.

Faster Construction Process

Metal frame home kits consist of prefab steel components. Prefabricated steel components can be assembled quickly on the construction site, ensuring timely project completion. Most of the steel-framed houses are available pre-engineered, which means they are ready to erect. These frames are also lighter than timber and require less effort and time to set up. Besides that, steel frames provide a stable and rigid surface for installation.

Lower Maintenance and Insurance Fees

The durability and resistance to natural disasters of steel homes can result in lower insurance premiums. Plus, steel doesn’t require maintenance, unlike wood roofs which might need mold or pest treatment. Steel is also highly resistant to fungus, making it a low-maintenance material for homes. Being water- and weather-resistant, steel is an overall low-maintenance material that also reduces insurance fees.

Termite and Borer-Proof

garage homeTermites are a real issue in Canada, and one of the safest options is using steel frames to prevent them. When compared to their wood-frame counterparts, steel-framed houses are more resistant to termites and other insects. You’ll have to spend thousands in maintenance with wood frames, and the treatment won’t ever end. With the chemical treatment, you and your family will also have to suffer the impact of hazardous pesticides. There’s no such issue with a steel framed house as it is totally termite and borer-proof.

Environmental Benefits

Steel is recyclable, and steel-framed homes have a smaller ecological footprint than traditional materials, reducing their environmental impact. Being 100% recyclable, the material can be reused multiple times. The material has minimal site impact, which makes it more environmentally friendly. Lastly, steel is chemical-free, and there is no need to treat it with pesticides.

Planning Considerations for Steel Framed Homes in Canada

Before embarking on the journey to build a steel-framed home in Canada, consider the following factors:

Zoning restrictions

Check local zoning regulations to ensure steel-framed construction is allowed in your desired area. Each location has different zoning permission, and all properties may not be similar. For example, a property may be located in a direct control, residential or commercial zoning. All properties have unique requirements that one must check before building a steel-framed house.

Building regulations

building permitsFamiliarize yourself with national and local building codes to ensure compliance during construction. Building regulations generally determine how far a property can stretch beyond the property line. It also tells about the style and height of the structure after construction.

Building permits

Obtain the necessary permits before starting construction to avoid potential legal issues. In Canada, obtaining a building permit from the municipal office is essential. So, it is important to check if it needs a permit, as it is better to be safe and follow the law for construction.

Local environmental conditions

barndominium farm homeAssess the local climate and geography to optimize your steel-framed home’s design for energy efficiency and durability. Though steel is sturdy and durable, you must still consider the environmental effects. For example, you must consider your area’s snow and wind conditions. If you live in a locality with significant snow episodes during the year, it is essential to research the steel frame thoroughly.


1. Are steel frame homes expensive?

While steel-framed homes may have higher initial material costs, the long-term benefits, such as lower maintenance, energy efficiency, and durability, can offset these expenses. In earlier days, steel frames were more expensive than wood because more labor and energy was required in the steel industry. However, now steel frames are less expensive than timber frames.

2. Are steel framed houses colder?

Proper insulation and thermal bridging prevention in steel-framed homes can improve energy efficiency, resulting in a cozy and comfortable living environment. Plus, steel frames are quite accurately installed, which means that the door and windows can be installed with better sealing. With a proper seal in doors and windows, there will be less energy loss.

3. Do steel-framed homes rust easily?

Most steel manufacturers, if not all, treat galvanized steel used in steel framed homes with a zinc coating that provides rust resistance. Thus, steel-framed homes can withstand corrosion for many years with proper maintenance and barrier coatings.

However, it is essential to note that if the steel frame is scratched and one removes the  coating, there is a chance that it will rust easily.

4. Which homes are better, steel framed or timber?

Both steel-framed, and timber homes have their advantages and disadvantages. The choice depends on factors such as budget, design preferences, location, and personal priorities. Steel frames are durable, recyclable, and resistant to termites and moisture. On the other hand, timber frames are more versatile than steel frames.

5. Can you get a mortgage on a steel-framed house?

Yes, you can get a mortgage on a steel-framed house. However, working with a mortgage broker familiar with steel-framed homes is essential, as some lenders may have specific requirements or restrictions.

Besides that, it is recommended to purchase a steel-framed house with cash, as getting a mortgage on such properties is a bit difficult.

6. Are steel-framed homes noisy?

Steel-framed homes can be just as quiet as traditional homes with proper insulation and soundproofing measures in place. A good contractor will make sure to install super connections and make sure that there is minimum thermally induced movement.

Wrap Up!

barndominium home kitIn conclusion, steel-framed homes offer a durable, energy-efficient, and customizable option for those seeking a modern and sustainable living solution. Steel-framed homes are an attractive alternative to traditional construction methods with numerous benefits, including faster steel construction times, resistance to natural disasters, and lower insurance fees.

If you’re considering building a new home in Canada, take the time to explore steel framing as a viable option that could provide you with the perfect living space for years to come.