Cold-Formed Steel Saves $250,000 in Building Mid-Rise Apartments

Using a design by Matsen Ford Design Associates of Waukesha, Wisconsin (recently acquired by raSmith, Brookfield, Wisconsin), eight men erected cold-formed steel walls and flooring systems in an eight-story apartment building in 14 weeks. “We had a small crew that could focus,” says Pat Hainault, Matsen Ford’s head engineer and project manager. “The work was quick and efficient.”

Panel Prefabrication

Located on the Fox River in Green Bay, Wisconsin, Metreau Apartments is a luxury, 107-unit complex located at East Walnut and North Washington streets. It opened in the fall of 2016.

Pete Braun, President of Wall-tech Companies, DeForest, Wisconsin, says that panelization of the CFS framing saved the developer weeks over post-tensioned concrete construction. Metreau Apartments was enclosed within 20 weeks.

“We were able to physically set more linear footage of walls by panelizing than stick building them,” Braun says.

Prefabrication also improved work quality and enabled Wall-tech to maintain productivity during several windy and snowy days.

Pete Braun

Pete Braun, President of Wall-tech Companies, says CFS prefabrication made efficient use of materials and boosted construction speed.

Balconies and Terraces

Unique elements give Metreau Apartments a special character.

“Metreau features different kinds of balconies and inset terraces on the eighth-floor, penthouse level,” Hainault says. “Since the terraces step back from the building, we had to support the upper story on built-up CFS transfer joists and posts buried in the load-bearing walls.”

Another feature includes built-in fall arrest anchors in the roof trusses and terrace floor joists. The anchors can support a maintenance crew and its scaffolding.

Lateral bracing was achieved by integrating CFS shear wall bracing with pre-cast concrete shear walls at the elevator and stair shafts. The integration enabled the building to achieve bracing at less cost.

And finally, the wall panel frames were pre-compressed, which is recommended on all wall panel projects.

Wall Panel

Wall-panel prefabricated the wall and floor panels off-site in their facility. Wall-tech erected the systems.

On February 1, 2016, erection of the CFS framing on the second floor of Metreau Apartments was nearly complete.

On February 1, 2016, erection of the CFS framing on the second floor of Metreau Apartments was nearly complete.

“We think of cold-formed steel as ‘wood on steroids,’” says Braun. “I’m not the first to say that, but it sure was amazing to watch this structure appear to just grow out of the ground.”

As an extra step, Wall-tech’s Wall-panel Prefab division welded the nearly 1,800 individual CFS-framed wall and floor panels together instead of using screws. This gave the panels extra stiffness, which enabled them to be set more precisely in place. Fabricating the sheathed wall panels took only about 5½ hours per 150 linear feet. “You don’t see many cold-formed steel erectors who also fabricate flooring panels,” Braun says. “But we’re set up for it. We were able to handle the process smoothly at Metreau.”

Wall-tech’s eight-man crew installed a total of 1,106 CFS wall panels and 670 floor panels at the rate of one floor every two weeks. Using cranes, the Wall-tech crew erected wall panels as large as 28 ft. 4 in. by 10 ft. 6½ in., and weighing 1,654 pounds. Some floor panels weighed 1,642 pounds and were 26 ft. by 12 ft. in size.

In all, the eight-man crew installed 11,508 lineal feet of wall panels and 97,236 square feet of floor systems. By panelizing the entire job and providing an earlier delivery of the building, Braun estimates Metreau’s developer, Dermond Property Investments, Inc., Milwaukee, saved $250,000 in construction and in carrying costs.

Metreau Apartments

Metreau Apartments’ framing design includes CFS attachment points for a variety of balcony types.

Pre-compression enabled tight seating of the framing. Bearing walls could be installed precisely and accurately without fear that the CFS framing would compress and damage the finishes.

Conflicts Caught by BIM

Wall-tech used Building Information Modeling on the project. BIM enabled the firm to collaborate effectively with the MEP trades by spotting potential conflicts between the wall and flooring panels and the mechanical systems.

“We caught all conflicts before we got too far along,” Braun says. BIM helped Wall-panel to be “lean on the materials,” he says. Nothing had to be rebuilt in the field.

In the end, the CFS framing of the Metreau Apartments is a fine example of how to save money on construction materials and labor, improve quality and lower job site waste.

Wall-panel Prefab used building information models to eliminate conflicts with the MEP trades.

Wall-panel Prefab used building information models to eliminate conflicts with the MEP trades.

Eighty days later, on April 22, 2016, eight men had completed five additional floors.

Eighty days later, on April 22, 2016, eight men had completed five additional floors.

Project Details

Mixed-use luxury apartments

Eight stories, 107 units, 127,546 sq. ft.

Completion Date
Fall 2016


Dermond Property Investments, Inc., Milwaukee, WI

Project Architect
Eppstein Uhen Architects, Milwaukee, WI

Project Engineer
Pierce Engineers, Inc., Milwaukee, WI

Specialty Engineer
Matsen Ford Design Associates, Inc., Waukesha, WI (now part of raSmith, Brookfield, WI)

General Contractor
Catalyst Construction, Milwaukee, WI

Cold-Formed Steel Panelizer
Wall-panel Prefab, DeForest, WI

Cold-Formed Steel Erector
Wall-tech, Inc., DeForest, WI


43 – 97 mil steel stud and joist framing


Upper 7 stories: Cold-formed steel walls, C-joist floors, and flat CFS roof trusses.

• 127,546 sq. ft. total; 114,000 sq. ft. CFS • First floor and lower level precast concrete post-and-beam framing with podium slabs

• X-braced CFS shear walls and precast concrete stair and elevator shear walls transfer through the podium level diaphragm into pre-cast concrete shear walls

Cold-Formed Steel Trusses

Prefabricated off-site.

• Spans up to 44 ft. 3 in.; supported

by CFS stud walls at 16 in. o.c.

• Built-in fall-arrest anchors

Cold-formed Steel Floor Joists

Prefabricated off-site. Spans up to 26 ft.

• 12 in. by 54 mil to 97 mil C-joists (2 in. flange) at 16 in. o.c.; 8 in. by 54 mil used in corridors

• End track used frequently to eliminate load-bearing headers

• Fall-arrest anchors built into terrace joists

• 670 total panels, 111 per floor

Cold-Formed Steel Walls

Prefabricated off-site. All studs aligned from floor to floor.

• Bearing cases: 6 in. by 97 mil to 43 mil C-studs (1-5/8 in. to 3 in. flanges) at 16 in. o.c.

• Parapets designed for fall-arrest loading

• Stud panels compressed for tight seating in top and bottom track

• 1,106 total panels, 158 per floor

Metreau Apartments’ lateral-resisting system includes X-braced CFS shear walls and pre-cast concrete stairs and elevator shafts.

Buildings Enclosed 50% Faster with Cold-Formed Steel Framing

Green Bay’s Metreau Apartments is just one great example of Load-Bearing CFS. In just 14 weeks, an 8-man crew finished the 8-story wall and floor systems. By panelizing the CFS framing, Wall-tech was able to fully complete the enclosure in 20 weeks. As an added bonus, prefabrication eliminates delays caused by bad weather.

The end result? Early delivery that produced $250,000 in savings.

Performance You Can Count On

CFS is an optimal way to balance client needs with your vision. It’s a functional system that meets use requirements while allowing you to express the right look. There’s no need to sacrifice on quality or price. You can shorten construction time and come in under budget.

Before you decide on a different framing system, why not consider CFS?

Not all Cold-Formed Steel is Created Equal—Get the Wall-tech Advantage

Fields marked with * are required