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Steel has been used in construction since the 19th century and is an important raw material for the construction industry. The durability and strength that steel contributes to the structures is what makes it one of the best construction raw materials. There are advantages and disadvantages of using steel in construction.
Choosing steel for construction should be done after thoroughly researching the different aspects of steel like steel grades, elements used in the manufacture of steel, etc. Have a look at the advantages of steel in construction and disadvantages before choosing steel for construction.
Advantages of steel in construction
Apart from strength and durability, steel has other factors that make it an ideal material for construction. Here are a few benefits of steel in construction:
- Strength and ductility
Steel is strong and has excellent load retention capacity and responds well to overload situations. Steel can be structured in a specific manner to add structural strength which is not easily achievable with other construction materials. A well fabricated steel structure can withstand external forces like earthquakes, storms, and cyclones.
Steel can be made into desired shapes right at the factory that can be directly installed in buildings. TMT bars, steels rods, floor beams, etc., are directly sold on the market which increases the speed of construction.
You can also contact a steel products manufacturer to get a customised solution. Many modern manufacturers are equipped with CNC machines that can control the dimensional accuracy of the products made to achieve precision.
- Increases the speed of construction
Another advantage of using steel metal in construction is that steel can easily be bent into different shapes owing to its property of ductility. This gives designers and architects the freedom to come up with a wide variety of designs compared to using traditional brick and wood for construction. Besides, prefabricated steel structures are already adding to the speed of the construction.
Steel is lightweight and therefore easily portable. This makes it easy to transport steel structures over long distances at lesser costs. It can also be easily lifted by cranes adding to the cost efficiency of the construction process.
- Energy efficiency
Insulating roof and wall systems of steel buildings can significantly reduce HVAC (Heating, Ventilation, and Air Conditioning) costs. Insulating panel systems, low profile roof options and cooler roof colors can also significantly reduce energy costs.
Steel buildings are 99% recyclable and more steel products manufactured today are being made with recycled steel. They last for over five decades which means it has a batter lifespan compared to brick and wood structures. The load bearing capacity makes it easier to install solar energy devices on the roof for an energy efficient building. This makes steel a better material for construction projects.
Disadvantages of steel in construction
Now that we understand the pros of using steel in building construction, let us take a look at the cons of steel metal in buildings.
Given below are some of the disadvantages of using steel in construction:
If you are planning to erect a steel building know that the maintenance costs are high. The building will need regular painting otherwise parts of it will start corroding. Steel corrosion compromises the structural integrity of buildings.
- High initial costs
Procuring steel involves high costs, especially getting customised steel members will force you to spend some extra money. Construction of a steel structures involves skilled labour, supervision and specialised equipment for handling and processing. This means there is a considerable initial investment for constructing a steel building.
- Fireproofing costs
Another demerit of using steel in buildings is that steel is not completely fire resistant. Extreme heat levels can impact steel’s properties and weaken the structure. Therefore, additional treatment is necessary for making it fire resistant.
Using the right grade of steel will help add more integrity to steel structures. Buying steel from a reputable supplier adds to the durability of steel and the overall quality of your construction project.
How is steel used in construction?
Numerous buildings have steel frames and other steel elements. Here are some of the structures erected with the help of steel:
Bridges form an important roadway connection and need to be strong enough to support the onslaught of rush hour traffic. Owing to its strength and tensile strength, steel is the best material for bridge construction. Steel possesses a high strength to weight ratio which allows it to handle the weight of heavy traffic and people.
- High rise buildings
Steel is a flexible and robust metal and doesn’t buckle easily under pressure. Therefore, steel structures are unaffected by tornadoes and earthquakes.
- Residential buildings
The plasticity and flexibility of structural steel makes it an apt raw material for the construction of residential buildings. These buildings are expected to withstand natural disasters like storms and hurricanes and usually feature a light gauge steel construction.
- Industrial sheds
When a construction project starts the first thing to be built is a shed. This shed acts as temporary housing for labor, machinery and other equipment used for construction. Steel structures make perfect industrial sheds as they are easy to install and can handle vibrations let off on the factory floor. If there is a requirement for more space in the shed as the project progresses, it is easy to renovate the structure.
- Parking garages
Steel being a lightweight metal, makes it an ideal construction material for parking garages. Steel parking garages are cost-effective, can be easily maintained and modified to add more space.
Steel is used to make other items that are required for construction like steel frames, roofs, beams, steel strips, etc. This alloy metal has multiple beneficial properties and when combined with other metals can absorb their properties as well. This makes steel an excellent raw material for automotive, aerospace, engineering and other industries where heavy machinery is manufactured.