Building your home is the dream of many Australians. It's easy to be tempted by the idea of creating a property in your favourite location and designing it to suit the needs of your family. However, before you can start building, you must have a completed technical design detailing precisely how and where you will build the property and what materials will feature in its construction. One of the first decisions you must make is what material you will use for the wall frames of your new home.
Timber or steel wall frames?
The two most common materials used for making wall frames in Australia are steel and wood. Both steel and timber wall frames can contribute to the comfort level of your home, and also affect its environmental performance. Timber wall frames are good at absorbing carbon from the atmosphere, but they can suffer from termite infestations unless the timber is treated before installation. Timber wall frames can also have problems with rot and mould, depending on the way that your property is insulated.
Steel wall frames are durable, strong, and won't suffer from termite infestations. Steel wall frames are also entirely recyclable, although they are energy-intensive to produce. The reasons that steel wall frames have not been adopted across Australia are related to the environment. Steel wall frames can rapidly lose their strength in the heat. This characteristic can quickly become a problem in areas prone to bush fires. Steel wall frames can also quickly start to corrode if the homes are close to the coast. If you aren't sure which material would be best for your wall frames, a local engineer can advise you.
What characteristics do you want from your wall frames?
The construction of the wall frames used for your home will depend on many factors. Two of the most important will be:
Thermal characteristics — You will want to talk to your architects and engineers about the thermal mass you want for the building and the level of insulation desired in the property.
Noise characteristics — No one likes to live in a noisy home. Sound can travel into your home from the outside, and also between rooms. Sound can even be reflected back into adjacent rooms. The construction of the property wall frames will play a large part in determining how well your property is protected from extraneous sounds.
The firm supplying your wall frames can explain the characteristics of particular constructions. Your engineering team can advise you on which type of wall frames will best meet your desired characteristics and help create your ideal home.