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Truss Assemblies: How Cold-Formed Steel Performs Compared to Other Common Materials

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One of the most efficient systems in a low- to mid-rise structure is none other than the truss assembly supporting the roof. This is true especially when the trusses are fabricated with cold-formed steel chords and webs with rolled edges. The pairing of high-strength, yet lightweight steel with a rolled U-shaped chord design offers a resilience and durability that can’t be matched by any other system.

“Of all commonly used construction materials, only steel framing offers the unique combination of strength, light weight and the ability to absorb high wind and seismic loads,” says Larry Williams, executive director of the Steel Framing Industry Association. “Add in the fact that steel is noncombustible and the most recycled material on earth, and it presents a compelling argument for steel.”

Indeed, building owners and developers have a definitive choice. While they may find a less expensive material such as wood, they won’t find a better performing, safer, more durable material for truss assemblies than cold-formed steel.

Wall and ceiling framing subcontractors benefit as well because cold-formed steel is economical to install. You can save money and man-hours because cold-formed steel trusses are lightweight, easy to handle and, due to their strength, fewer are generally required for installation than other types of trusses.

Cold-formed steel trusses can also be installed at 4 feet-on-center and greater spacing, whereas wood trusses typically require 2 feet-on-center engineering and plywood for lateral bracing. As a result, installation proceeds faster and saves money. In fact, some cold-formed steel trusses save as much as 20 percent on labor costs due to their rigidity and minimal bracing requirements. In the end, the truss installer earns praise—and hopefully more contracts.

“General contractors want us to meet their construction timelines,” says Robert Brannon, president, Brannon Specialties Inc., a Miami, Florida-based truss installer. “Cold-formed steel trusses help us make that happen.”

Cold-formed steel trusses provide five key benefits: 1) strength, 2) labor cost savings, 3) durability, 4) flexibility and 5) safety.

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