Cold-formed steel and Red iron construction methods are some of my favorite ways to build a barndominium on the market today, in this article I will go over the pros and cons of each as well as some general knowledge and things to know if you’re planning a barndominium build with one of these construction methods in the near future. Steel barndominiums are a must if you live along the coast or anywhere that can see serious winds and storms throughout the year. Your home is your safe place and if you build with steel you can sleep well knowing that you have taken every step to build the most rigid robust barndominium that can withstand some crazy wind speeds.
Red iron construction is a bit misleading with the name, Red Iron isn’t actually iron it’s steel, Red iron is in reference to the coating of red iron oxide that the steel is coated with during the manufacturing process. The red iron oxide is just liquid rust they spray onto the steel to protect it from the elements, like wind, oxygen, and acidic rainwater. Red iron is one of the most popular methods to build with, in the entire world, red iron is used on a global scale in projects that range in size from residential homes to factories, hotels, office parks, and more. Red iron uses large wide beams that have more surface area than other steel methods like CFS. You can literally tell how strong that red iron barndominium is just by looking at the framing and seeing how beefy it looks next to something more traditional like a stick-built barndominium. The strong properties of the red iron steel combined with the iron oxide coating to protect the strength and integrity of the steel from rusting and from the elements is seriously a winning combination that will last for years even after we are gone.
Cold-formed steel or CFS for short is a construction method that is very unique, it uses light gauge steel sheets that go through a rolling process to be formed into framing components. BuildMax Steel can take a set of house plans that you purchased from Buildmax and scan them into their proprietary software program that can determine exactly how many, and what size, steel beams, steel 2×4’s, any steel framing component the house plan requires and once the software determines the specifications the manufacturing of the pieces can begin, they will start by rolling the metal sheets into shape by forming them one by one, over time each piece will pop out until you have a complete steel package with all the pre-measured steel beams and steel support structures sitting in front of you ready to be shipped to the building site. they manufacture these steel pieces mainly by roll forming the LGS through a number of dies to get the specific shape they require. they can essentially create steel 2×4’s and other size steel beams that are connected together and used to frame your walls in the place of wood, this makes your barndominium structurally framed and rigid enough to withstand earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, hurricanes, you name it!
As with any method you choose there will be disadvantages to each the key is to find what works best for you and try to choose the option with the least disadvantages right? With any steel building, insulation is the main concern, and if not addressed correctly from the onset with proper spray foam insulation the problem could become a huge disadvantage especially if you consider other framing options that can provide tons more insulative properties than steel could ever dream of having in it’s wildest tropical dream, although if you go the more traditional route you would undoubtedly be giving up the best quality of all and that’s the strength and rigidity of your barndominium year-round under even the most extreme environmental conditions. It’s no secret that steel is overly conductive and heat and cold tend to run through it quite easily. However, with proper insulation, it can realistically be on par with any stick-built house you can find on the market today.
Comparing Cold-formed steel to something like reinforced concrete is going to be a better comparison than something traditional that has a minimal amount of wind resistance and is less structurally sound. When just taking into account the work involved there’s much less labor involved in erecting a steel building than building with concrete, steel is completely 100% recyclable unlike reinforced concrete and with cold-formed steel, you have no harmful chemicals in the manufacturing so it’s healthy for you and the environment. With less debris, tools, and machinery around the building site, it makes for a safer environment for the builders as well. The lightness of the steel helps the process move faster forward getting more done in less time and the best part is it doesn’t take a rocket scientist to erect since the hard part is already done everything has been pre-measured it’s simply a matter of connecting the pieces so you will no doubt save money on the workers as there’s way less specialized skill required in the setup, I’ve seen estimates of 40% time savings with cold-formed steel construction over reinforced concrete with no drying and curing time, no chances of cracks forming later on years down the road.
The cost is going to be determined by a few factors, availability in your area, as well as the availability nationwide, this will absolutely play a role in the price of your steel package. The last I checked in my area, the South Eastern United States Red iron was cheaper than Cold-Formed Steel construction for the specific house plans I was using. You have to remember that cold-formed steel is being manufactured without the aid of fire or heat to make the metal more malleable and ultimately more workable, the metal is being cold rolled to form the metal into shape and this takes much more effort which ends up costing much more to manufacture but you end up with a superior product with a strength to weight ratio that is unbelievable making it ideal for holding up in extreme weather conditions and ideal for general structural integrity throughout the life of your barndominium. Cost is always a concern but at the end of the day I try to remember where that money is going, the quality and integrity of the steel are where it shines and that’s what I’m paying for. Hopefully, through this article, you can see the same value in Cold-Formed steel as well as red iron steel barndominium construction, both have so many advantages but the one thing that everyone benefits from is the peace of mind knowing your house will stand even though the wildest of storms.