Looking for the Metal Studs in Houston

LOOKING FOR THE METAL STUDS IN HOUSTON “I got nothing against wood,” writes a reader who says he worked in his uncle’s construction business for 12 summers while he was in school. “I really like the smell of fresh cut wood.” Still, he’s hoping Swamplot readers will be able to refer him to both architects and residential builders who are familiar with metal-frame construction — to help him build a new home for himself in the Memorial Villages area. He says he’s convinced metal-frame construction will last longer in Houston because of its inhospitality to termite dining and perhaps a lower risk of going up in flames. [Swamplot inbox] Photo: Super Stud

26 Comment

  • Have you considered ICF’s instead?

  • I’ve wondered the same thing. Watching two new apartment complexes going up practically next door to each other on Post Oak (Hines’ WaterWall Place and Alliance’s Broadstone), I noticed that Hines is using metal studs while Broadstone is wood. I assume they are pretty similar in specs, so the difference really stands out. Maybe there is a height difference that requires it.

  • The City has made me do additional fire proofing on metal framing in the past where it would not have been required on wood framing. Go figure.

  • We’ve built homes from all types of materials and I would honestly say don’t waste your money. On paper metal stud construction sounds good but in reality it doesn’t offer any real world advantages. Termites are not as big of a problem as Orkin makes it sound, plus if your foundation is pre-treated and penetrations are properly blocked, it won’t be an issue. As far as fire…all new construction requires sprinkler systems plus there would still be plenty of things that burn including plywood, decking, trusses, furniture etc.

    ICF does have some structural, sound, and energy efficiency advantages but severely limits the possible design of the home.

    Me personally, I would go with good ole Yellow Pine #2 2×6 and composite sheathing.

  • I’m a residential builder and designer. I am familiar metal studs it in commercial work, but I have not used them residentially. While there have been a number of houses done with metal studs recently, you will, I think, be paying a premium compared to wood frame: if that is a concern. Some of the requirements for metal frame construction, especially with regard to electrical and energy code, just make it uneconomical for builders to do it for anything but a custom home. That means that the sub-contractors are mostly going to be commercial, which are more expensive, and don’t want to deal with the problems of residential building. That drives the cost up and limits the available labor pool. Also, unless you go full steel frame you will still have a lot of wood in the house in the beams, trusses joists and rafters. If you go full steel frame you will be paying more than 2X (maybe 3 or 4X) as much as you would If you just used wood. Best of luck though. I’m sure someone here will say exactly the opposite of what I just did.

  • if he worked twelve summers while in school, he was either colosselly stupid (ie, he repeated the 10th grade 3 times) or colosselly smart (ie, he went to Medical School), either way, odd article, im assuming a slow day at Swamplot

  • P.S. Spend your money on things you will actually see or touch every day… Nicer hardware, aluminum clad wood windows, solid core doors, two speed AC system with inline UV filter, clay tile roof, real stone or cast stone decorative features vs. foam, etc.

  • I think using Treated pine lumber (wolmanized) for a bottom plate would stop termites

  • Get a bunch of commercial trades to build your residence? Good luck with that! Recipe for a (giant) cluster-f*ck.

  • We have designed steel-framed homes and there are definitely some challenges posed with regards to the other trades, as has been pointed out already. Consider the use of borate treated lumber as an alternative to address the termite issue. It is more economical than using steel, and can be effective even against the much dreaded formosan termite.

  • 8th grade through three years of grad school gives you twelve summers easy, especially if you did five years of undergrad or took a year or two off between undergrad and grad.

  • Are there any long-term issues with wood-frame construction being exposed to several months of Houston weather while the house is being built?

  • @Rodrigo, the framing process is actually pretty quick and the house is “dried in” in a week or two, so the wood never gets a chance to saturate with water. As long as the lumber is out of direct exposure to rain or standing water, it is very resilient. Keep in mind most lumber has been sitting around a lumber yard for many months if not years without degradation.

  • I’m watching a toothpick house go up in River Oaks on Inwood – so even the 1% thinks this is acceptable. I prefer concrete and steel, personally, but that is just not the way things are done here in H-Town.

  • @Joe–concrete & steel are not just “not the way things are done in H-town”, it’s not the way things are done anywhere. Raises the cost far beyond any {perceived} benefit. I’m in the const business, and built my own home, I would never consider steel studs. Waste of money. I also built my own offices, and did use steel studs. Different needs, different codes.

  • Thanks Commonsense. Joe, don’t the 1% always tear down the last guy’s custom build so that they can build new to their own tastes?

  • Most metal framing studs you see on construction sites are non-load bearing. fwiw.

    I imagine their preference in multi-level construction has a lot to do with weight.

  • Wow! I’ve never seen so many opposed to CFMF (Cold Formed Metal Framing)…

    I use it all the time in commercial and residential applications. You are only limited by the imagination of the designer. It is better than wood with regard to recycle options and the wood in today’s market is mostly new growth with knots and a high water content.

    The labor/trade argument about higher cost is a false idea. Find the right subs and there is no issue. Sounds like the builders on here are just scared!

  • @kineticd, steel framing makes sense in commercial but in residential it’s just a gimmick, most builders who used “steel construction” as a selling point have went out of business because there is a lot of hidden extra cost and the market simply does not require it and is not willing to pay more for it. I also don’t believe “recyclability” of a house is even considered by a buyer as an important point, besides, we grow 50% more wood in the US than we use, so it’s truly an abundant renewable resource. If you use proper grade of wood, the knots are cosmetic and do not affect the strength of the wood and wood IS supposed to have a certain amount of moisture to maintain flexibility. Lumber companies go to great lengths to age and/or kilm dry lumber to optimum moisture content.
    P.S. Judging by your website, the “imagination of the designer” is very limited.

  • “@ kineticd:The labor/trade argument about higher cost is a false idea. Find the right subs and there is no issue.”

    Wrong. Sorry, but I am in the const biz, and subs for steel studs are nowhere near the price of standard wood sticks. Expect it to add a couple bucks a foot to your cost. At least!

  • @commonsense; ouch! No need to get personal… so, according to your argument you are saying kiln dried wood is not marked up in cost?

    As for the recycling idea, an educated demographic would pay a premium on steel if their ethics mattered. As for all you “builders”, that is the problem with your perspective. Most are only looking to build it faster and cheaper, so you can put more money in YOUR pockets. What ever happened to doing what’s right for our city? For example the Crain homes of the post war era that everyone is in a hurry to bulldoze.

    I’ll take steel any day. You can keep your binders, glues and solvents and the gasses the release well after being installed! As for imagination, i’ll put my design skills up against yours ANY day of week bud…

  • @kineticd, if you want to tout your design skills, you might want to do something about that website.

    You also obviously have no idea how a construction project is ran especially from the cost perspective. I make same money whether I use wood or steel, the cost is passed on to the customer. However, as a professional it is my duty to recommend to them which product is worth it and which is not.

    Lumber is the ultimate recyclable… it’s bio degradeable, and creates clean oxygen while growing, so don’t give me that greeny weeny BS.

    All the glues, solvents, and gasses are in all of your sheetrock, paint, sealants, etc, so you’re not escaping them by framing out of steel.

    Doing what’s right for the city? Who determines that? Some committee sitting at Starbucks wearing fedoras? Or some architects who haven’t nailed one 2×4 to another in their life?

  • @commonsense; you’re a creative one with your word play. I’ll give you that! I was in the fold today making sure rebar chair stand offs were at the right highroad during a concrete pour after yesterday’s rain. I’m hands on design / build firm… when is last time you in the field with the laborers?

    As for the website, it’s a work in progress and my pockets are not deep enough pay someone. I do the graphics and uploads.

    “Steel is among the metals, uniquely plentiful and inexpensive… it offers the designer possibilities that exist in NO OTHER material…”

    Fundementals of Building Construction
    4th Edition
    Pg. 368


  • Allow me to interject in your flamewar (perhaps to start another).

    My experiences have taught me that it is best not to be innovative and to treat real estate as a commodity, not as a vision. If an individual buyer wants something out of the ordinary (more than just custom cabinets or that sort of cosmetic thing for which there is a proven market), then they’d better have awesome credit along with collateral that I can actually get at.

  • @TheNiche, I agree with you.

    @kineticd, quoting an abstract statement form a schoolbook, really? You obviously are a recent graduate and have not yet learned the Theory vs. Reality of real world. You have much to learn, young grasshopper.

  • Having just noticed that kineticd was evidently the designer behind the long-delayed Moontower Inn “enhancements”, I’m giving commonsense the edge on this.

    @ kineticd: I was like you, once.