Many companies are bringing new and innovative products to the housing market each year. LiteSteel Technologies is bringing its steel beam technology to the U.S. market and hopes to make an impact with remodelers.
In April, Qualified Remodeler introduced the LiteSteel Beam from LiteSteel Technologies. The LiteSteel Beam (LSB) is a cold-formed structural beam with the strength of steel but with the workability and ease of installation associated with wood products.
LSB is on average 40 percent lighter than hot-rolled steel and engineered-wood beams of equivalent performance. The patented cold-forming process gives LSB a unique profile with the torsional rigidity normally expected from hot-rolled steel.
The LSB has a G60 galvanized coating, and it is made of steel with 65 to 70 percent recycled content. In the United States the company is sourcing the steel coils locally.
“The product is extremely easy to use,” says Jeffrey Hoffman, vice president of business development with LiteSteel Technologies. “Because of the light weight, two guys can easily pick up a beam and carry it through a door.”
The LSB can be cut with a normal circular saw with a steel cutting blade or drilled with a steel drilling bit. There is no need for a torch or any special equipment. It can be fastened with standard self-tapping screws and can be nailed with a high-pressure nail gun.
The geometry of the product makes it look like a C channel with sealed flanges. Because it has a flat surface to work with, remodelers faced with a deteriorated wood beam can use the LSB as a sister beam without replacing the old beam. The LSB can be put on either side of the old beam, leaving it in place.
The LSB tends to be more economical in longer span applications. For example, if a remodeler were looking for a header over a window or a single door, even though LSB works perfectly well, it’s probably not going to be cost-effective. If a remodeler wants to look at something like a garage beam, a basement beam or crawl space beam, those are really the sweet spots for the product, according to the manufacturer.
“Currently the product is being tested in the U.S. after its soft launch at the International Builders’ Show earlier this year,” explains Hoffmann. “But with the new plant we’re building in Virginia, everything is expected to be running full speed ahead around Nov. 1, 2008. LiteSteel Technologies plans to officially launch the product at IBS in January 2009 in Las Vegas.”
At the moment LSB has only 10-in. beams available in the United States. When the new plant is open and operating, LiteSteel Technologies plans to offer 8-, 10-, 12- and 14-in. beams up to 48 ft. long.
LiteSteel Technologies recently received code approval on both the IBC and IRC 2006 standards. That’s a big step for the company and it is currently working on Florida building code approval, which it expects to have shortly, Hoffman says.