Building Hotels and Apartments Out of Metal Studs

multi-family-light-gauge-metal-stud-steel-framing-US-Frame-Factory-south-US-gulf-coast hotels and apartments
A large red-iron building with metal stud infill

Hotels and apartments are multi-million dollar investments that take years of planning. One piece in the puzzle is figuring out what structural system you will use. That system may be concrete, wood frame, light gauge steel frame, or others. In this article we explore the reasons to build new construction hotels and apartments out of metal studs. The primary reasons explored here are:

  • Quality – Strength and durability
  • Fire ratings – Safety and code enforcement
  • Speed – Time to market
  • Cost – Get the best bang for your buck

Quality

Metal studs can greatly improve the quality of a hotel or apartment. Metal studs do not rot, do not get infested with termites, nor burn like wood studs do. The operating costs and maintenance of hotels and apartments adds up over time, so while metal studs may not be the cheaper solution at the start, they can really save on maintenance over time. Additionally, metal studs can allow for a better finish during the construction of the product. Metal studs do not warp or twist, and they do not expand and contract with changes in weather or humidity. This material property allows for more precision to be introduced into the building process.

Finally metal stud construction yields a higher overall strength of the building. Metal studs can be engineered to withstand high wind loads and the screwed or welded connections result in a better product than would otherwise be had with nailed connections seen in wood construction.

Steel framing and metal studs used in hotel and apartment construction
Second floor of a 5 floor apartment building in Metairie, LA built entirely out of US Frame Factory metal studs.

Fire Ratings

Stricter building codes with more stringent fire ratings are required in big cities and many other places permitting for the construction of a hotel or apartment . Metal studs allow you to design for higher fire resistance assemblies than wood studs and in some cases reduce the need for a fire sprinkler system. Even if metal stud walls and trusses add to the structural costs, these costs may be recouped by avoiding a fire sprinkler system.

Different wall assemblies can be viewed on the USG website with their different UL fire ratings. In general the metal stud assemblies require less expensive sheetrock and fewer features to meet the fire ratings. Here’s an example of a 1 hour fire rated non load bearing partition with metal studs.

Speed

Light gauge steel construction is good for panelization and other factory friendly methods of speeding up construction. Time to market is extremely important for companies building hotels and apartments because it reduces construction loan costs. Additionally, this means less time when the building materials are subject to weather.

Application

The most efficient way to stick build large square footage with metal studs is to get a large amount of pre-cut items to fill out your structural red iron. Wall studs, cripple studs, headers, storefront curtain walls, should all be pre-cut to length as you will be using 1000s of each length. This will save your framers time on site and reduce their cut-off length.

This optimization can be taken to another level when the metal studs are pre-fabricated into wall panels. Learn in depth about them here. Basically a large portion of your building will be pre-fabricated in a warehouse via wall panels. These can have varying degrees of finish such as exterior cladding, stucco, and/or windows installed, right out of the warehouse for crane assembly on-site. Start to finish engineered steel construction allows the accuracy needed to prepare panels in advance. BIM models to actual construction must to be accurate.

US frame factory pre-fabricated wall panel being constructed. Load baring wall panel for apartment complex and muti-family home
Exterior load-bearing WALL PANEL under construction

Cost

Cost is extremely important in construction projects. Light gauge steel may not be cheaper in a side by side comparison with wood, but once you factor in quality, operational costs, repairs over time, code assemblies, fire safety, avoidance of pests, water and humidity considerations, and time to market you may find that steel is the right choice for you. Speak with one of our sales managers to see if steel is a good fit for your project.

LEED Certification Points for Hotels and Apartments

LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) building credits are a key component of the LEED certification process, which is a widely recognized and globally adopted rating system for green building and sustainable construction. The LEED rating system was developed by the U.S. Green Building Council (USGBC) to encourage and certify environmentally sustainable, energy-efficient, and environmentally responsible building practices. The a high LEED score are directly lead to tax incentives. Database of State Incentives for Renewables & Efficiency (DSIRE) can guide builders/owners on what incentives are there for them state by state. Metal studs contribute to your LEED score since they’re a recycled material and non-emitting.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *