How Steel Framing Enhances Your Building’s Earthquake Resistance

Posted by Brett McCutcheon on Jul 29, 2023 7:00:00 AM
Brett McCutcheon

How Steel Framing Enhances Your Building’s Earthquake Resistance -blog

While it doesn’t always get a lot of attention, earthquake resistance is a crucial facet in architectural design—and steel framing can enhance your building’s earthquake resistance. How?

We’re going to explore that topic in depth. With that, we’d also like to showcase the ET&F® (a BECK brand) fastener systems, which are ideal for working with steel structures. Let’s get started by examining what makes steel a good choice for earthquake resistance.

Steel is a Ductile Material

“Ductile” refers to the ability of metals to be deformed without losing toughness—and that’s at the heart of what makes steel an ideal choice for earthquake-prone zones.

To understand why that is important, it’s crucial to understand what happens during an earthquake. As the ground starts to shift, everything on top of it—including buildings—shifts along with it. When brittle materials undergo those vibrations, they’ll often crack or shatter. That’s why unreinforced concrete tends to fare poorly against earthquakes. While concrete is strong against many other types of forces, when it comes to the shaking and vibrations that earthquakes cause, it’s brittle enough to break apart easily.

Not so with steel. Some steel is easy to bend with just your fingers—like a thin steel wire, for example. The columns and beams that make up a building’s structure are much bigger and harder to bend, but they’re still inherently ductile. When the ground starts to shake, a steel structure can bend and flex without shattering the way unreinforced concrete might. Even if the quake is bad enough to permanently deform a steel structure, the steel often remains strong enough to keep the building standing whereas structures made with less ductile materials would collapse.

Steel as a Shock Absorber

Ductile properties make steel resilient against quakes—and it’s also possible to use steel as a type of shock absorber to protect other, less ductile materials against earthquakes. Many modern buildings today utilize steel frames and cross braces that are designed to absorb seismic waves. Buildings with this type of design rely on these steel “shock absorbers” to take the brunt of the seismic force and transfer it back to the ground, effectively safeguarding the rest of the structure from the worst of the shaking.

The Tools You Need to Work with Steel

Whether you’re doing residential or commercial steel framing, you’re going to need reliable tool and fastener systems to get the job done. BECK offers a variety of options. One such tool is the ET&F® Steel Framing Model 500A, which is ideal for wood-to-steel fastening. This tool is specially made for cold-formed steel construction, and it’s been hailed as the most reliable tool available for this type of work.

It's a breeze to use, too. It’s only six pounds, which means you can work with it easily all day long, and it features a bump fire mechanism that allows you to install fasteners three to five times faster than traditional screw guns.

Another great choice is the AERICO® 90 system. This is a versatile tool, working equally well for steel framing, manufactured housing, sheathing, siding, concrete, and more. Use this tool with strip collated nails that can be driven into tough substances like poured concrete or 3/16” steel. Those are two good choices for working with steel—but BECK offers many more. Click below to discover even more great ET&F® tool systems designed for steel framing jobs.

Discover the ET&F Systems

Topics: Steel Studs, Tools, ET&F, steel framing, power tools, commercial building, construction, fastener system, steel construction, steel structure, earthquake resistance


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