10 ideas for using metal structures for houses

Sunita Vellapally Sunita Vellapally
LARA RIOS HOUSE, miba architects miba architects Industrial style kitchen
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A structure is the element that forms the skeleton, which supports a building or a home. It’s the frame that makes it stable by connecting the building and fixing it to the foundation in the ground. In traditional houses, such a skeleton didn’t exist as walls made of concrete, brick or stone were used to provide the load-bearing function in addition to enclosing spaces. In older buildings, which make up the historic centre of many urban cities, especially in multi-storied structures, we often find wooden framing. However, after the industrial revolution and the steel boom, houses with metal structures have become more common as metal is more durable and fire resistant than wood.

Nowadays, the technical advances in the metals used for structures have resulted in a marked improvement in their performance. Due to this, when it comes to interior design, metal structures can be chosen not just for their strength and durability but also for aesthetics. We present a few ideas in this article that features models of houses in metal structures.

1. The return of metal

Currently, both wood and steel come with new treatments that have greatly reduced the disadvantages previously faced when structures were built with them, as against concrete. In the case of metal, the structure occupies much less space than a concrete one, an important advantage given the limitations of space that we face in modern homes.

2. Combining with other materials

Metal structures can be used for the vertical supports or pillars, on which the horizontal elements or beams and other less-important elements can be fixed to form the structural support for floors and ceilings. 

It is common to find mixed elements in structures, especially metal pillars combined with beams or with concrete slabs, as in the house in this image.

3. Steel and metal sheets

Traditionally associated with warehouses, agricultural or industrial constructions, coated metal is increasingly used in homes as a solution for the structure, instead of traditional joists. Metal structures for roof of houses can be created by fixing metal sheets on steel beams to form the roof or the upper floor, as we see in this image.

4. Rehabilitation

Metal structures are lighter than those made of reinforced concrete, and their execution is much faster. These characteristics make them a very good option for rehabilitation or remodelling projects where the walls and partitions have load-bearing capacity, and we cannot knock them down when we want to renovate an old house. Often, it is necessary to replace wooden beams or pillars that are in bad condition, and new ones made of steel are a good option.

5. The weight of the structure

When renovating or remodelling, it is quite common to carry out expansions or change the distribution of space in the home to adapt it to new uses or the modern way of life. In such cases, it is necessary to avoid adding extra weight to the structure of the building, and therefore, we should opt for structures that are as light as possible. Beams and metal pillars, together with sheet metal slabs, are highly recommended in these situations. This can be accompanied by a choice of materials, partitions, woodwork and other elements that can be incorporated according to their weight. Experts also use metal structures for two-storey houses to reduce the load on the lower floor.

6. Fast assembly

In small homes, where execution times are limited, it helps enormously to use metal structures. Although the price of the structure may be more than one made of prefabricated concrete, it more than makes up for it by saving space and time as it is much simpler and cleaner to construct a small house with a steel structure than with heavier concrete. Since, metal structures are modular, they are easy to transport in sections or parts and then put together at the site. 

This is the reason metal structures for houses are popular, whether it’s for the construction of pavilions or standalone houses, like the one we see in the image.

7. For big lights

A structural system conceived by different pieces or sections allows a combination that forms a more complex structure. This way, it’s easy to form trusses, like the one in the picture, to cover big lights. Depending on whether it’s a two-way cover, as in this case, or flat, and the type of joint between each of the pieces, a variety of trusses or triangular beams can be designed to suit every situation.

8. Small structures

The wide variety of types and sizes of profiles as well as the treatments that can be applied to metal, generates an amazing range of possibilities for their use in the interior design of houses with metal structures, beyond just providing support. You can create attics, designer shelves or any other imaginable decorative element, like this original raised bed structure that our experts have created to take advantage of the ceiling height in this house that was being renovated.

9. New treatments

We have reviewed the technical characteristics of metal structures as well as their advantages and disadvantages when used in contemporary homes. However, we cannot forget about aesthetics and how a steel structure can become the protagonist of the decoration of a space. Today, the industrial  style has become very fashionable and trendy in interior design. We can choose between different treatments to apply to a metallic structure and leave it uncovered to enhance the industrial look and create a space with avant-garde decoration, such as the office in this image.

10. The versatility of steel

Steel is a very strong and tough material that needs little maintenance. Today, technical advances allow new treatments to protect the metal from oxidation and make it more resistant to fire. Being a highly industrialized material, it allows us to create anything from simple to the most complex metal structures for houses. It is a flexible and versatile material, easy to combine with other materials, to construct imaginative frames and decorative details for our interiors.  

Finally, it should be noted that metal is a reusable material, which implies a reduction of the environmental impact compared to other materials, which can only be discarded.

See 6 tips to a more eco-friendly home, for ideas on reducing the environmental impact of your house.

Where, in your house, will you use a metal structure? Share your ideas in the comments.

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