Oregonians, don't look now: There's a contractor working in Southern California who thinks load-bearing galvanized steel studs and joists are better than those cut from your beloved wood, the mainstay of your state's economy.
Gordon Mollett of GRM Construction, Thousand Oaks, is building a five-unit apartment project near downtown Palmdale that uses framing members supplied by Angeles Metal Systems, Los Angeles.
When completed later this month, the two-building project, owned by An-Val partnership of Thousand Oaks, will have an exterior like thousands others in the Southland: stucco with wood trim.
Mollett, a metal framing specialist, said that dry-wall workers can be trained to learn metal framing techniques more quickly than carpenters, who are used to nailing wood studs and joists.
"Drywall workers are used to the screws that we use in metal framing systems, since many use screw guns to fasten drywall panels," he explained. He added that his workers are specially trained in the craft of metal framing.
Why steel, which costs slightly more than wood? Mollett likes the uniformity of steel, especially in the long lengths commonly used in buildings with cathedral ceilings.
"The straight steel studs mean straighter walls when the drywall panels are fastened," he said. "The work goes faster, and the cost is competitive with wood. We use various gauges of steel, from 16 gauge for joists, to 24 gauge for the second-floor studs."
Steel framing systems are widely used in commercial buildings, for both load-bearing and non-load-bearing walls, but are relatively uncommon in residential construction in the West. Mollett said that Palmdale's building department has been cooperative.