Steel Minimizes Shrinkage, Swelling and Movement in a Structure Over Time


  • Steel does not change size or shape with changes in moisture content – which helps prevent cracks in finishes such as drywall and stucco. When they get wet, both wood and brick will swell. When they dry out and cure, concrete and concrete block will shrink and form shrinkage cracks.
  • Steel is isotropic: meaning it has the same dimensional properties in all directions. Since there is no “grain,” the strength of steel is the same up and down, side-to-side, and in all loading directions.
  • Steel does not warp, shrink, or crack in normal loading and framing applications.
  • Steel is ductile, and will bend and stretch when overloaded, rather than cracking or breaking like unreinforced concrete or masonry.
  • Steel is 100% non-combustible. Therefore, height and area restrictions on combustible materials do not apply to cold-formed steel.
The International Building Code (IBC) and other building codes limit how tall a building can be or how much area can be encompassed by the building based on several factors. The primary factor is the combustibility of the products used for the building. Table 503 of the IBC categorizes buildings by construction type and use group, and gives the maximum building height in feet or stories, and the maximum area in square feet. Cold-formed steel (CFS), being totally non-combustible, can help developers and builders use land more efficiently by allowing taller and wider buildings for the same occupancy classification. For mid-rise buildings in the 4 to 9 story range, CFS is much more cost effective than heavier construction. It also has a more predictable schedule that can shave months off the total project cycle time.