When considering steel, it is important to recognize not all product offerings in today’s marketplace are the type installed in thousands of monumental structures which feature thin, divided-lite, industrial-looking windows. Many offerings today include steel components, but only a select few offer the indisputable characteristics and lifecycle of solid, hot-rolled steel profiles.
Alternative systems marketed as “steel” in today’s market include:
- systems constructed from structural steel angles/flats/Ts (typically non-tested)
- those fabricated from cold-rolled (thin-gauge roll-formed sheet–hollow) profiles; and
- various hybrid systems (e.g. cold-rolled, laser-cut strip steel joined mechanically to fiberglass extrusion by means of adhesives or mechanical connectors).
One should carefully review the type of product being offered and recognize the differences between them. Most importantly, one should ask the manufacturer to verify proposed designs will comply with structural loading requirements and mandated codes.
Most steel systems are custom fabricated, and it is imperative the offerings presented during the bidding stage surpass design intent alone. Confirming code compliance with design intent is one routinely under-evaluated aspect that could bring a project to a standstill.
Brian Whalen advises, “The importance of code compliance and stress testing cannot be over-emphasized. Steel window manufacturers should transparently provide detailed information about its certifications.”
A combination of fusion-welded corners, face-welded muntin intersections, factory finishing processes, and certified third-party testing results in products with unlimited design flexibility and code compliance for a multitude of building types and architectural styles.
While all products have a place in the construction market, one must ask the right questions to know what one is buying. All products are different and just because it is marketed as ‘steel’ does not mean it is the product one might expect.
See A View with Some Room: Steel windows accommodating high performance on page 26 of the April 2016 issue of The Construction Specifier: solutions for the construction industry to learn about the history of steel windows and doors, features to look for, the importance of testing and certification, and questions to ask custom steel window and door manufacturers to ensure you get the best possible product for your investment.