Credit: Bill Timmerman
Tucson, Ariz., frequently sees summer temperatures in excess of 100 degrees, hot enough to wreak havoc on outdoor exterior details and landscaping treatments. In this clime, plastic is not advisable, and wood is largely out of the question unless you have a robust enough budget to specify hardy, weather-tolerant species such as ipe, teak, mahogany, or Spanish cedar.
But local architecture firm Ibarra Rosano has found a low-cost, low-maintenance solution that works well for its exterior details: metal studs from Seattle-based Steeler Inc. “We found this solution when we were looking for a material to do shading devices, screens, and fences,” says principal Teresa Rosano. “We needed something durable, but it also had to be inexpensive.”
The C-channel–shaped track and studs are made from light-gauge, cold-formed steel, and feature corrosion-resistant coatings or galvanizing that makes them highly durable. Pieces come in different shapes and different flange and lip lengths, which is one of the reasons Ibarra Rosano uses the product.
“[The metal pieces] create nice shadow lines when the sun hits them,” Rosano explains. “Plus, they allow homeowners to see out because the shapes block the glare from harsh sunlight.”
The architectural details are simply constructed: The steel studs are screwed to tube steel vertical poles for fencing or to metal apertures for sliding doors, gates, and exterior screens. “The studs are strong in both directions, so you can space them up to 10 feet apart and still have a solid assembly,” Rosano says. She continues: “You could use 2x2 wood studs in another climate, but we can’t do that here.”