Building a tiny house? Wondering if you should use a steel frame instead of wood? The answer varies depending on your situation, but here are some facts you should review as you decide:
1. Steel beams are lighter than wood beams.
If you want a tiny house that's portable, you want as little weight as possible, and steel can help you accomplish that. As steel beams are hollow, they tend to be lighter than solid wood beams, and in fact, most steel beams have a third less weight than wood beams. Additionally, they can be spaced further apart, also reducing the weight of your home.
2. Steel beams need fine thread, self-tapping screws.
Unfortunately, screws can come loose from steel frames, especially if you are hauling your tiny home from place to place. You can counteract this issue by using fine thread screws. As the threads are smaller, they create a tighter connection than larger threads. Also, try to use self tapping screws. They have special features that allow them to create their own hole as you screw them into metal, ensuring that they have a tight accurate fit that is less likely to bounce around and become loose.
3. Wiring a steel frame tiny home requires conduits.
If you use wood to frame your tiny home, you can simply run wires through the cavities behind the gypsum board just as you do in a regular house. However, if you use steel framing, you have to protect the wires by running them through conduits. This is especially important if you are going to be driving along, because the wires might get bumped and jostled against the metal frame.
4. Steel frames have built-in protection resistance to fire, insects and mold.
Steel also offers several intrinsic advantages that wood does not. In particular, your steel frame is impervious to termite infestations and wood rot, and this can help your tiny house to last longer. In the event of a fire, steel is also much more resistant, a great feature if you are setting up your tiny home on land that is prone to wildfires.
5. Steel frames may require more insulation.
As steel conducts heat, it can cause thermal transfer that may make your tiny home hotter in the summer and cooler in the winter. To counteract this effect, you may need to add extra insulation to a steel framed house. Keep these costs in mind when comparing the cost of wood and steel -- remember you have to consider ancillary costs as well as the costs of the materials themselves.
For more information, contact a steel fabricator in your area.