Fortress Blog

Thursday, December 10, 2020

How to Keep Deck Projects Going with Steel Framing Amid the Lumber Shortage

Lumber has been the traditional building material of choice for deck framing projects—largely selected for its familiarity and affordable price point. However, the series of lumber mill closures in the spring of 2020 wreaked havoc on the supply chain, curtailing productivity and causing numerous projects to stall out. After peaking at more than $950 per thousand board feet in fall 2020, the sky-high lumber prices are just now beginning to retreat. Still, they remain at a historically high level, hovering 60 percent above the mid-April price point.

While lumber prices are volatile, homeowners’ fervor for outdoor and home improvement projects remains high and shows no signs of slowing down. In fact, the remodeling market is projected to grow 5 percent in 2021. The ensuing uptick in demand for building materials paired with off-the-charts lumber prices has put deck building pros in a difficult position. Should they put projects on hold? Or turn to readily available lumber alternatives? 

To sidestep uncertainties surrounding lumber ahead of a busy decking season, consider switching to a solution like steel framing. Continue reading to learn how this hardworking material can keep deck projects going and customers happy.

Steel framing systems are a lasting alternative to lumber

An ideal building material for deck framing projects, light-gauge steel is one readily available alternative to lumber. Capitalizing on the industrial strength of commercial-grade steel, it sidelines issues associated with moisture absorption, one of the most common reasons for lumber decomposition. In fact, it’s resistant to most tangible threats, including rot and decay, fungi, pests (such as termites) and weathering. In application, this means light-gauge steel frame profiles will remain straight and true over time. This makes for a more enduring, dimensionally stable deck framing solution that keeps surface boards flat and smooth underfoot, safeguarding a legacy of work.

Steel installs like lumber in framing applications

Those who want to become more familiar with a new material before building a deck structure will appreciate select manufacturers’ ready-to-assemble steel deck framing packages. For instance, Fortress® Evolution steel deck framing arrives in one comprehensive system with everything needed to install a basic deck frame (including fasteners). Much like wood at a hardware store, the total system contains many beam and joist length choices and installs similarly to lumber. To make installation even easier, builders can turn to Fortress Evolution steel deck stair system – its components/brackets fully integrate with Evolution steel deck framing or wood deck framing. As the industry’s first complete steel stair system, this innovative alternative uses light-gauge steel with commercial-grade strength for elevated functionality.

Steel deck framing systems keep project timelines on track

While the lumber shortage isn’t expected to last forever, pent-up project demand brought heightened awareness to the fact that builders don’t have to delay projects when pressure treated lumber is unavailable. With the case made for steel, contractors and deck builders can look to Evolution steel deck framing from Fortress Building Products to keep their projects on pace for completion – even in today’s shifting climate. This ready-to-assemble system is compatible with any type or brand of deck board, so customers can enjoy an outdoor living space that reflects their desired aesthetic. The system’s commercial-grade strength and smart interlocking joist and ledger system ensures a structurally sound deck system that will last 25 years or more. Building pros can track down Fortress Evolution at a qualified dealer, home improvement store or online retailer at fortressbp.com/where-to-buy.

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