Table of Contents
Bridges, dams, high-rise apartments, tunnels – you look around yourself and you will see different steel structures surrounding you. Steel is a versatile material and a commonly used raw material in construction and infrastructure projects. There are several advantages and disadvantages of steel structures which makes it important for one to know about the different types of steel available in the market, its features, and uses to ensure that when using steel for constructing structures its merits are appropriately leveraged.
With different raw materials used in construction, let us take a closer look at the benefits and drawbacks of steel structures and why it’s the preferred option in many cases.
Advantages of steel structures
Let us start by looking at the merits of steel structures. In your personal life, if you have used steel utensils (e.g., stainless steel cutlery) you will be able to relate to some of the features of steel.
- Durability: One of the most advantageous features of the steel is strength and durability. As compared to other materials, steel has a better capability of withstanding natural calamities such as cyclones and earthquakes. Also, it is known for its durability and with little maintenance it can last more than 30 years.
- Lightweight: If I-beams made of steel are used for framing are compared with the similar amount of wood used for the same purpose, steel will be lighter than wood. Design of the I-beam makes them structurally sound and lighter than any many materials used for framing. Moreover, it is easy to handle and transport too. It can easily be lifted by crane. This makes it a versatile material in true sense.
- Cost effective: Steel is a cost-effective material in longer run. Its initial cost may be higher than other building materials, however in longer run it turns out to be a cost-effective choice. Hence, it is widely chosen for construction projects.
- Flexibility: Steel is easy to work with and hence, it gives flexibility to achieve desired designs. As a result, steel is a popular choice of material for designers in the construction industry.
- Fire resistance: Another important feature that steel offers is fire resistance as compared to other traditional materials. Wooden structures are highly combustible and can catch fire quickly. Although with heat steel’s properties may change, additional measures such as chemical treatment, etc., can help you make steel fire resistant.
- Recyclability: Nowadays there is a greater emphasis on eco-friendly materials which includes recycled and recyclable material. Advantage with steel is that it is a recyclable material and once the structure is dismantled for any reason, steel can be recycled and reused for other purposes. All of these factors make steel structures the preferred option in construction. This does not mean that builders do not use other material – it simply means that the contribution and role of steel in construction is significant and diverse.
All of these factors make steel structures the preferred option in construction. This does not mean that builders do not use other material – it simply means that the contribution and role of steel in construction is significant and diverse.
Disadvantages of steel structures
We have taken a look at what makes steel a great choice for construction – let us also take a look at the things to keep in mind when working with steel.
- Initial cost: The initial cost of making steel structures is much higher if compared to RCC. Moreover, it needs skilled labour, supervision and specialised equipment for handling and processing. All of this adds up to the initial cost.
- Corrosion: Another major disadvantage of the steel is that it is a highly corrosive material. This makes steel unworthy material for many applications. However, the problem can be resolved with anti-corrosion treatment. Such treatment is especially required if steel is being used in the outdoor environment or humid regions. Alternatively, additional treatment can impact the costing part too.
- Fireproof treatment: Although steel is better fire resistant as compared to wood, it is not completely fire resistant. As mentioned before extreme heat can impact steel’s properties, making the structure weaker. As a result, additional treatment is necessary for making it fire resistant and that adds up to the cost of the raw material.
- Buckling: It is yet another disadvantage of the steel. If the load on steel is more than the expected load, steel buckles easily. Buckling depends on various aspects such as grade of steel used, treatment, etc. Steel used in infrastructure projects is chosen accordingly so that buckling problem does not arise despite the load.
The solution to fix these challenges is to use the right type and grade of steel. The steel manufacturing process is specific to the kind and form of steel (e.g., steel coils, steel sheets, steel channels, steel bars etc.) being produced. Not all type of steel is used for building structures. While steel TMT bars are suitable for construction projects, stainless steel is more suitable for making finer articles.
Is steel a right choice for structures?
Selection of material depends on various aspects including purpose of the structure, budget, location, weather conditions, etc. These aspects define expectations from the raw material being used.
For example, the geography where the construction project is undertaken is an earthquake prone area, then the material being used in the project should be strong enough. With regards to using steel, it is a corrosive material, it may not be good idea to use steel in the region where weather conditions are humid. If it has to be used, treated steel such as galvanised steel can be used for these projects. Hence, it is recommended to consider all the aspects while choosing the right material for your project.
Another challenge may supervisors in the construction industry face is procuring the steel at a reasonable price. However, Tata nexarc is enabling MSMEs procure various kinds of steel at an affordable rate. Through its service – Tata nexarc Procurement, we offer several varieties of steel such as coils, sheets, channels and angles, etc. One can easily place and order and get timely delivery.