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Steel has become an important raw material in the construction industry, contributing to the strength and durability of large structures. It has been used in construction since the 19th century when the first skyscrapers were built. However, with advancing technology steel is now part of smaller buildings and even homes. The importance of steel structures has grown tremendously as they are now considered a green product that is entirely recyclable.

Why is steel used in construction?

A structure built with wood or brick is not as strong as steel structures. They are flexible and easy to install. Since steel is a highly durable metal, steel structures can withstand external pressure such as earthquakes and thunderstorms. Plus, these structures are much more resistant to fire and termites.

Steel structures resist mold and mildew and are easy to maintain. One of the advantages of steel in construction is that steel buildings face fewer issues with deterioration and corrosion than concrete or wood. According to a research paper published on ScienceDirect, a research company, steel structures can last up to 52 years. Steel experts say that if you wash and maintain your steel structure annually, it can last up to 100 years.

How is steel used in construction?

The main purpose of steel in construction is to provide strength and durability.  Steel is a favorite for designers around the world to build the following structures:

  • High rise buildings

Being a flexible metal, steel structures are unaffected by tornadoes and earthquakes. It won’t buckle or break under pressure and therefore steel is used in building construction.

  • Industrial sheds

Industrial sheds are an economical solution for housing and storing heavy machinery like mining plants. Therefore, it doesn’t make sense to build it with concrete. Steel structures are easy to install and can handle vibrations let off on the factory floor. In case there is a need for more space in the future steel structures are easy to renovate rather than concrete buildings.

  • Residential buildings

Residential buildings are expected to withstand natural disasters like storms and hurricanes. The plasticity and flexibility of structural steel makes it an appropriate raw material for the construction of housing buildings. Contractors follow light gauge steel construction for building residential structures.

  • Bridges

Bridges need to be strong enough to support themselves and handle the onslaught of traffic.  Steel is the best material bridge construction because it is a tensile metal. It has got a high strength to weight ratio that can handle the weight of heavy traffic and people.

  • Parking garages

Since steel is lightweight, it is ideal to construct parking garages. It is also cost-effective, which is key for budget-friendly construction.

Steel construction vs concrete

Here are three reasons why steel is a better choice for construction compared to concrete:

  • Durability and maintenance

Steel is one of the most preferred choices when it comes to making strong structures that can withstand some heavy wear and tear. Concrete, on the other hand, requires constant repairs and maintenance. While concrete is a better choice for those on a tight budget, once you factor in your costs for the lifespan and maintenance of the building you will see that it is more cost-effective than a concrete structure in the long term.

  • Versatile

While concrete can be made into different shapes, steel can be used for infinitesimal applications. A wide variety of architectural shapes is possible with steel.

  • Sustainability

Much steel used today is recycled steel which prevents wastage and leads to reduced project costs. Steel is made to be used and reused for many generations. Concrete just ends up in landfills adding to waste disposal problems of the country.

Why do designers choose structural steel?

Steel is lighter than wood and therefore assembling steel frames for the building is much easier than using wood frames. Since steel is lighter than wood, costs decrease. Shipping costs decrease because the weight is less, fewer man-hours are spent for assembly and the framing design is simpler with steel reducing overall material costs.

Another reason why designers choose to work with structural steel is because the construction process is much faster.  Many steel components come prefabricated.  These are steel components with standard sizes and shapes that come already engineered from the manufacturer and ready to install.  This means that assembly just takes a few weeks even for large construction projects.  Prefabricated material also means only less time is required compared to measuring and cutting traditional wood framing for construction.

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