The market for light gauge steel has increased year after year, with Asia and the Pacific currently dominating the market thanks to things like China investing more into their housing schemes and other structural developments.
As the world turns to more affordable and even eco-friendly building techniques and materials, there is becoming a growing need for light gauge steel.
This is because this material is strong, durable and flexible, with many options available for both residential and commercial projects.
Let’s take a closer look at light gauge steel, and find out what exactly it is and the many available benefits.
What is light gauge steel?
Light gauge steel is traditionally a thinner metal which is between 1mm and 3mm in thickness, typically coated with zinc and aluminium, which is called ‘galvanization’.
Galvanization means that the steel will be protected from the elements; it will be less likely to rust or corrode, which makes it the perfect option for buildings in any climate.
It can help add to the overall lifespan of the steel, helping you save significantly in terms of both costs and time spent on potential repairs and maintenance.
Because the steel is thinner than alternatives, it means that this steel can be easily customised, it is flexible and a popular choice for projects of almost all sizes.
When is it used?
As this steel is particularly versatile, it can be used for a variety of purposes including the following projects or industries:
✔ Retail outlets
✔ Commercial buildings
✔ Small and medium-sized residential buildings
This is because while you might choose different gauge steel for the actual frame of your building, light gauge steel is also used for things like roofs, walls and flooring panels too.
There is also the benefit of using light gauge steel in prefabricated kits.
Prefabricated kits mean that your separate parts are manufactured elsewhere then brought to your location for assembly. Which can be constructed quicker thanks to the lightweight nature of light gauge steel, with less labour required.
Not only will this help you to save on time spent and your need for specialised equipment, but this can also mean you can easily stay within budget.
How common is light gauge steel?
Light gauge steel has become a prevalent building material for use in both structural and non-structural framing with a range of sizes and thicknesses available, as well as other standard building elements like walls and roofs.
Many steel building companies are starting to look towards utilising more light gauge steel, thanks to the low costs and structural integrity of the material.
You can even find light gauge steel used in large scale projects such as sky rises and residential city buildings.
In fact, in 2016 the global light gauge steel framing market was valued at USD 29.09 billion alone, which has been steadily increasing and forecast to keep growing over the next ten years.
Who manufactures light gauge steel?
The demand for light gauge steel is steadily increasing, particularly in the United States, the United Kingdom, Japan and Germany.
However, it is also notable that there have been more and more projects using light gauge steel in developing countries such as India, China, Brazil and many Middle Eastern countries too.
At the moment, the Asia and Pacific markets are dominating the production and use of light gauge steel, which is likely attributed to the increase in things like roads, bridges and infrastructure in countries such as China.
In 2015, China released their ‘Belt and Road Action Plan’ which would rebuild the ancient Silk Road route which connected China to other significant trading countries and continents such as the Middle East, Europe and Africa.
This $900 billion plan will not only help the country’s economic growth and sustainability, but it will also help boost the steel building industry. And, create more supply and demand for light gauge steel.
It is likely that as this demand grows increasingly higher over the next ten years, in particular, the USA will also develop its production of light gauge steel frames and other products.
How is the market developing?
Currently, it is estimated that the light gauge steel framing market will likely reach a worth of approximately $43.65 billion by the year 2025. But, this figure could be much higher depending on the increase in supply and demand from developing countries.
The compound annual growth rate or ‘CAGR’ of light gauge steel framing is around 4.7%, with key factors which could affect this growth including technological developments. Also, the increase in the use of insulation and the increase in light gauge steel’s overall quality.
Top 10 benefits to light gauge steel
So, what are the real benefits of using light gauge steel?
1. Affordable pricing
There are a few factors to consider when looking at the cost advantages of using light gauge steel rather than alternative materials such as heavier steel or wood.
For instance, steel is less expensive to purchase because of the increase in supply and demand, with more companies looking to produce more steel in a more efficient way.
But another factor to consider is that because steel won’t rot, rust or corrode with proper treatment, it requires less maintenance which can help you to save, as well as the fact that it won’t need replacing quickly.
2. Strength and durability
Did you know that some steel structures have been known to withstand earthquakes and hurricanes?
While every steel building is unique and will have a different ability to withstand extreme weather, it’s true that steel has an excellent level of quality and structural integrity. As well as the aspect that you can reinforce your building with extra insulation and interior columns.
You can depend on steel structures to be resistant against the weather, making them suitable for both residential and commercial use.
With galvanized steel, this type of metal will last a long time and will be much less likely to rust or corrode over time, making it one of the most durable building materials.
Your steel building won’t crack, become infested by insects or set on fire thanks to the fact that steel isn’t flammable. So, it runs less risk for breaking down, and it is cheaper to insure too.
If you are in a particularly cold or humid environment, steel can be one of your best options because it isn’t susceptible to things like rot and mould, which makes it better for health and safety reasons too.
4. Long lasting
Steel is a long-lasting material because it is resistant to most of the problems associated with other materials, and many steel building suppliers will give you at least a 20-year warranty on their buildings.
With some steel building providers, you could even benefit from a 50-year warranty on their buildings. Which is much higher than the typical wooden house unless it is regularly maintained, which could cost a significant amount of money.
As light gauge steel is continually increasing in popularity in both Europe, Asia and the United States, it is becoming far more accessible to both individuals and businesses.
Many steel building companies are looking to light gauge steel as an affordable option which is both flexible and durable.
This means that you will be able to find light gauge steel at increasingly competitive prices.
6. Fast construction times
This type of steel has a lighter weight, which is part of the reason why it can be constructed much quicker, as you won’t necessarily need a high amount of labour hours or equipment.
You could use a prefabricated kit to cut down on your costs significantly.
Prefabricated kits use parts which are manufactured elsewhere then delivered to you so you can assemble your structure, and in some cases, your building could be constructed within a few weeks, or even a few days.
This is dependent on the size of your building and the complexity of the structure.
Steel is a more eco-friendly option to many alternative materials because most steel is 100% recyclable. Which means that if you decide to take your building apart, it can be recycled into a new structure.
There is also less waste when manufacturing and producing steel thanks to technological developments. So, less damage to the environment in general.
You can also insulate your steel building to make your structure more energy efficient.
In the past, prefabricated steel kits might have come from a standard line of designs, and while it’s true that you can still find many of these on sale today, there are also far more options available.
This can range from paint colours and types, exterior and interior finishes such as drywall and stone cladding. As well as choices regarding the number and size of windows and doors you have.
Light gauge steel can easily be cut and fit into place to match your specific needs.
9. Resale value
Light gauge steel can be easily assembled and disassembled when compared to traditional homes or commercial buildings, which means that if you decide to sell your structure, you might find you have many interested buyers.
This is because you can ship your steel buildings for less, and it will be easier for your buyer to customise their new steel building.
10. Easily duplicated
For landowners or business owners, having a steel structure that you can easily duplicate is essential to keeping your brand voice, and expanding your company.
With light gauge steel used in prefabricated kits, you can replicate a design or style multiple times for an affordable price. And, quick construction times.
Finding light gauge steel today
In conclusion, light gauge steel is a fast growing market which will increase in worth by the billions in the next few years, thanks to developing countries and the technological advancements in steel production.
Many steel suppliers in the USA will be opting for light gauge steel and providing it to their customers, because of the low cost of this material and its usefulness in almost every steel building element.