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The Basics of Structural Steel Framing

Updated: Mar 9, 2023

Light gauge steel ( aka CFS , LGS ) framing has become a popular choice for commercial and residential construction due to its strength, durability, and versatility. However, many people may not fully understand the basics of structural steel framing.


Let’s discuss:


Studs and Tracks

Studs and Tracks are the primary components of light gauge steel framing.


Studs are vertical framing members that are installed between the top and bottom plates of a wall. They are typically used to support the weight of the wall and the structure above it. The distance between studs is typically 16 or 24 inches on center, depending on the building code requirements and design of the wall.


Track, on the other hand, are horizontal framing members that are used to connect the vertical studs together and create a rigid framework. They are typically made of metal and are installed at the top and bottom of the wall, parallel to the floor and ceiling. Tracks provide support for studs and help distribute the load of the wall across multiple points.


In summary, studs are vertical framing members, while tracks are horizontal framing members that provide support and stability to the studs. Together, they form the framework that supports the weight of the building and creates the structure of the walls and ceilings.


Connections

Connections are crucial in structural steel framing, as they hold the studs and tracks together and transfer the loads between them. The most common types of connections are easily sourced #10 ¾” self drilling galvanized screws.

Comparatively, welded connections use heat to fuse the steel together, an increased cost and timeframe that is not needed with prefabricated, preassembled light gauge steel. Proper connection design and installation are critical for ensuring the stability and strength of the structure.


Bracing

Bracing is used to provide additional stability to the frame and prevent it from swaying or collapsing. Bracing can take the form of diagonal members or rigid straps. The placement and design of bracing will depend on the specific needs of the building and the location of the frame.



Fabrication and Erection


Light gauge steel framing is typically fabricated offsite and then erected onsite. During

fabrication, the steel is printed with pre-cut MEP holes and screw divets according to the design specifications. It is then transported to the construction site and erected, the frames being so light they’re easily unloaded and erected with a small crew of framers. Proper fabrication and erection are essential for ensuring that the frame is built to the required specifications and is safe and stable.


Fire Protection


Light gauge steel is a fire-resistant material, but it can still be affected by extremely high temperatures. Fire protection measures such as the use of fire-resistant coatings are commonly used to protect the cold formed steel framing from fire damage.


Cold formed steel framing is a complex system of components that work together to create a strong, stable frame for buildings. Studs and tracks, connections, bracing, fabrication and erection, and fire protection are all key elements of structural steel framing. Understanding the basics of light gauge steel framing is crucial for architects, builders, and engineers who want to create safe, efficient, and visually appealing structures.



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