Steel is a versatile material that has plenty of possibilities for use within a custom home. There are many benefits of using it as a construction material – these are four ways we incorporate steel most frequently in the homes we build.
Exposed Structural Steel
The traditional approach to structural steel in residential construction is to give it little to no thought – the metal will just be covered up with drywall anyway. But as other builders focus on covering this structural component, we look at ways to accentuate this often-overlooked element in homes that we build.
During the design phase, we engineer connections and details that allow us to accent the steel. We draw attention to these elements in the homes we build – this has always been a no-brainer for us. A little bit of forethought brings these elements from beneath drywall out into clear view. Clean welds and a well-planned approach cost our clients nothing additional and can add depth, texture, and architecture awareness in homes. There is something appealing to seeing what keeps your home supported – it just makes sense. When integrating structural exposed steel on projects, we even make sure the mill-marked lettering is right-side up, because who wants to look at an upside down Made in the USA for the next 50 years?
Steel for Dramatic Cantilevers, Mystery Supports, and Perceived Levitation
Typical thinking in residential construction is to minimize steel. This is mainly due to the builder’s lack of experience and knowledge. Because we are experienced in commercial construction, we see steel as another tool in on our box we can use to achieve dramatic effects. Whether we place steel in a foundation to create a floating stair detail or support a cantilevered kitchen island to create a clean, uncluttered look, steel can help us bring to life breathtaking designs that just are not possible with traditional wood framing and supports.
We can use steel framing in the interiors of homes to create floating cloud ceilings, detailed curves, and expansive balloon walls that are truly strong and significantly lighter than wood framing. We prefer to use steel framing in certain applications because of the quality controls in place during production at the mill. Steel framing won’t shrink, cup, or bow following installation. This allows us to create stronger, straighter walls and details in a home that can be greatly beneficial when we are using a level 4 or 5 flat-finish drywall.
Another area of construction where steel framing can open up possibilities is in fireplace assemblies. All residential fireplaces have restrictions on using combustible materials within a specific distance. This reduces our ability to use wood framing to create recessed areas above the fireplace, which is typically where the TV is located. But if we use steel framing around the fireplace, our design possibilities greatly increase.
Steel on a Home’s Exterior
Steel can be relatively maintenance free when used for exterior construction. Because it has such a high strength-to-weight ratio, we can use it for a wide variety of applications. Areas where we have creatively integrated steel into exterior applications include:
- Steel stair stringers
- Shade structures and pergolas
- Custom fabricated gutters and downspouts
- Stainless steel countertops for outdoor kitchens
- Exterior siding panels
- Fascia and soffit material
- Decorative chimney caps
- Entry gates
- Fences and site walls
- Steel beams as earth retaining wall elements
- Artistic entry door screens
Steel provides a great way to differentiate your home in a creative way and the options are limitless. Feel free to ask us for suggestions and recommendations when you are planning your custom home.