SFS vs Blockwork: Putting SFS infill walling to the test

SFS vs BlockworkSales Director of Metsec Framing, highlights the results of a report which reveals the benefits of using SFS instead of traditional blockwork

Metsec SFS is our market-leading light gauge, galvanised steel structural framing solution for general external wall and high-rise construction projects. As one of the leading products on the market, we commissioned a report to put our SFS infill walling solution to the test compared to traditional blockwork.

As part of the testing, we compared several different real life scenarios to see how the SFS wall would work in situ, which included brick, timber cladding, insulated render and rainscreen cladding. When looking at each scenario, a number of different areas were taken into consideration, such as: project benefits (in construction), cost efficiency and sustainability performance. When the results came through, it was clear that compared to traditional blockwork, SFS proved to be quicker to build, showed increased sustainability performance and significantly improved cost efficiency.

In fact, cost efficiency was a factor that came out as a benefit from every scenario we tested. The table below shows both the like-for-like material comparison, as well as an overall build comparison:

Scenario Saving on through wall cost Saving on comparable elements
Brick face external wall 8% 7%
Timber cladding external wall 27% 54%
Insulated render insulated wall 8% 21%
Rainscreen cladding external wall 4% 19%
Average saving 13% 33%
Saving on Total Build Cost 4%

As you can see from the table, it’s clear that savings can be made across the board when using SFS infill walling.

The report found that SFS requires 25 times less lorry deliveries to site, which ultimately reduces the impact on the environment. In addition, SFS embodies less carbon and creates less waste compared to traditional blockwork, making it a far greener choice.

The speed in which SFS can be built also reinforces that it is a more efficient product to use, rather than blockwork. This is because it can offer a much quicker water tight date, removing façade finishes from the critical path and enabling follow on trades, such as first-fix and M&E contractors to start work on the project sooner than usual. Also, in regards to speed, the report found that, for the example project, SFS could reduce the installation time by at least 3 weeks, with further time savings possible on larger projects.

It is well known that the project benefits for SFS are precision, practicality and performance. As our SFS steel is delivered using flat bed trucks, it is ready for a crane to off-load the bundles directly to the loading bays at each floor level, this assists in reducing the overall time that is spent on-site. It can then be installed from the inside of the building, which means there is no requirement for external scaffolding and an edge protection system can be utilised. When the SFS products arrive to site, they are easy to identify because we have colour coded the studs. The colours represent the thickness of the product, which is determined in the initial design drawings. By labelling the products in different colours, it makes it visually easier to regulate where everything goes once on-site. Once installed, SFS offers acoustic, thermal and fire performance to relevant Building Regulations and/or client requirements, reinforcing it as the ideal choice for the construction of high-rise buildings.

With our expert team of designers, it means that we’re able to provide recommendations on the SFS products that are going to be best used based on the needs of the project. Not only this, but the standard of steel we use is of a high quality and all of our products are CE marked.