Drive through a growing number of Canadian communities and you’ll spot something interesting: more and more homes are incorporating steel into their design.

“The last couple years we’ve definitely seen a huge trend of residential design making the move toward steel,” says Greg Gardenits, director of sales & marketing, Western Canada, Westman Steel Industries.

There are several factors driving that trend. The biggest is a growing concern over the health of the planet. Steel, he says, fits that bill. “All the steel we use is recycled. We take spare parts and melt them down. We basically take that steel and reinvent it.”

Photo courtesy of Westman Steel

Once it’s used in a building, steel’s durability supports sustainability, since there’s less need to replace it any time soon. “That’s what steel represents,” says Gardenits. “It’s got a lot of life, a lot of longevity to it. There are higher up-front costs. But you may have to replace a traditional roof three or four times in the lifetime of the same product in steel.” In the context of a big build or renovation, Gardenits says homeowners are increasingly seeing steel as a smart investment.

One other practical concern driving interest in steel, Gardenits notes, is that “depending on the region, many homeowners have concerns about fire, as well. When you’re looking at a product like steel, it’s not fireproof, but it’s flame resistant and a steel roof, for example, doesn’t burn as quickly as a traditional shake or shingle roof would.”

Designers and homeowners are warming to the look of steel in residential buildings, as well, partly because of the product’s versatility. “Steel can give you a traditional look, a contemporary look, and anything in between. It helps you get away from the traditional types of products like stucco or vinyl siding and give a little more texture and interest to a surface.

Designers will often incorporate multiple colours and profiles of steel in the design of a home. Combining different profiles and textures and colours can give a home a unique contemporary look.

Choice when it comes to colour is something the industry is increasingly offering, thanks to demands by architects, designers and contractors, including one that’s a bit counter intuitive. “For years the industry worked to make sure steel didn’t rust,” says Gardenits. “And now we have a lot of architects wanting to specify rusted-looking steel in their designs.” Using steel that’s still rust-resistant, the company managed to source and offer a painted product that creates an authentically ‘rusted’ look that’s been hugely popular with customers.

Manufacturers make every effort to respond to the demands of the design community. Having steel in the repertoire, adds a whole new range of looks architects can use, whether that’s traditional, contemporary or modern. Most importantly, the design elements are offered in a way is sustainable to meet yet another of the industry’s biggest needs. —

Photo courtesy of Westman Steel

Photo courtesy of Westman Steel