LiteSteel Technologies says its cold-formed, galvanized steel beams are a lighter, cost-effective alternative to wood glulams.

The company's beams can span longer distances than conventional framing material - reducing the number of footings required - and are ideal when a concrete deck will be poured, according to LiteSteel. The product's high fire resistance can also be an advantage, especially in urban areas, since steel-framed decks can be closer to each other than wood-framed ones and still meet fire codes.

Depending on beam depth - which ranges from about 8 inches to nearly 14 inches - and metal thickness, the beams weigh from about 3 1/2 pounds per foot to 13 pounds per foot; on average, that's 40 percent lighter than hot-rolled steel or engineered wood equivalents, the company says. Beams come in lengths up to 40 feet.

Beams are made with a G-60 hot-dipped galvanized surface. For "prolonged outdoor use," the company recommends beams be primed and painted.

All that's needed to cut the beams is a standard circular saw fitted with a metal-cutting blade. They can be assembled with self-tapping screws or 1/2-inch bolts, or they can be welded.

Retail prices range from $5.75 to $20.20 per foot, depending on beam size, metal thickness, and geographic location. A price list is posted on the company's website, along with span tables comparing the steel beams to wood and engineered-wood alternatives.

LiteSteel is among several companies promoting the use of steel framing for decks. Trex and EvolutionDeck are marketing similar products, claiming steel won't warp, twist, or rot and should last longer than wood.

Scott Gibson is a writer in East Waterboro, Maine.

LiteSteel Technologies, 877/285-2607,