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 go with. 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
Table of Contents
Metal studs can greatly improve the quality of a hotel or aparment. Metal studs do not rot, have termite issues, or have fire issues like wood studs do. The operating cost and maintenance of hotels and apartments adds up over time, so while metal studs may not be the cheaper solution at the get go they can really save on maintenance over time. Additionally, metal studs can allow for a better finish from the construction of the product. Metal studs are not warped, twisted, 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 studs 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 results in a better product than would otherwise be had with nailed connections seen in wood construction.
Big cities and stricter building code areas tend to have more stringent fire ratings. 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 cost to the structural, they may save a lot of money in fire sprinkler systems.
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.
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 means less time taking loans and more time paying off construction loans. Additionally, this also means less time when the building materials are subject to weather.
The most efficient way stick build large square footage with metal studs is to get a large amount items pre-cut 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.
Another level which metal studs can be done is pre-fabricated 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 has exterior cladding, stucco, windows installed, right out the warehouse for crane assembly on-site. To operate this you might have red iron and the foundation build close to very dimensions. BIM models to actual construction needs to be accurate.
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, and time to market you may find that steel is the right choice for you. Speak with one of our sales manages to see if steel is a good fit for your project.