Light gauge is a steel L-header consisting of single or double steel "L" angles that significantly reduce installation time.
Steel mills produce galvanized sheet steel, the base material for steel framing. Sheet steel is roll-formed into shapes used for framing. The sheets are zinc coated (galvanized) to prevent corrosion. Other coatings are also available such as Galvalume and Galfan. Although there are a variety of shapes available, the primary shapes used in residential construction are the C-shape stud and the U-shaped track. Framing members are generally produced in thickness of 12 to 24 gauges with 3-1/2" and 5-1/2" widths.
Manufacturing of steel framing members adheres to strict tolerances, which results in consistent strength, straightness, and dimensionally stable members. Steel framing provides excellent design flexibility due to the inherent strength of steel, which allows it to span longer, and also resist wind and earthquake loads.
The use of steel framing for residential applications often hits a stumbling block when it comes to labor-intensive installation such as load bearing headers.
The use of light gauge steel framing for home construction has increased recently due to advantages such as rot and termite resistance, uniformity, and cost when compared with wood. However, widespread adoption of steel framing in homes has been hampered because it can reduce labor productivity-especially with assemblies that require a greater amount of fastening, such as load-bearing headers. Steel L-headers that consist of single or double steel "L" angles have been introduced to simplify header installation and to save time by significantly reducing the amount of cutting and fastening.
Traditional steel headers typically consist of double "C" channel, light gauge steel members, either back-to-back or in a box-beam configuration. The labor productivity of light gauge steel framing is poorer than wood frame construction due to the difficulty of fastening steel members. Traditional steel header assemblies require a disproportionate amount of fastening.
The L-header is a new header design that cuts labor time over the C-channel design. Steel L-headers consists of two "L" shaped, light gauge steel angles. The shorter leg of the angle is about 1-1/2 inches wide, and the longer leg ranges from 6 to 10 inches long. The short leg rests on the wall's top track and the longer leg extends down toward the window or door opening. Steel thickness typically ranges from 16 to 20 gauge. Headers can either be single (one side of the wall only) or double (both sides of the wall). They have demonstrated structural adequacy for residential buildings in areas of low to moderate wind speeds. L-headers are also suitable for use in wood-frame buildings.