Steel is swiftly becoming more and more popular as a building material across all fields of construction – including in both domestic and commercial projects.
The material is an alloy of iron and carbon and comes in a range of different types.
The type that is most often used in construction is plain carbon steel or mild steel – but builders may also use alloy steel, stainless steel, or light gauge steel depending on the project and purpose.
Steel is exceptionally versatile and relatively affordable, making this material the ideal choice for many architects, building firms, and contractors on the lookout for great value for money.
If you’re about to start planning a new project, you may be considering the use of steel yourself.
But under what circumstances are steels most useful? Are there any risks involved?
In this article, we explore the reasons why builders and developers might include steel in a structure, as well as detailing the more common downsides of using this material.
Durability and Resistance
Steels are highly popular in commercial construction due to their ability to withstand a huge amount of force – as well as their resistance to fire, moisture, erosion, pests, earthquakes, and more.
If there is a chance that your building will be put to the test in any of the above ways, steel may be for you.
Open Plan and Warehousing
Steels such as H beams and I beams are capable of supporting huge weights over massive distances without additional support.
Due to their massive levels of tensile strength.
House sale consultant Ruban Selvanayagam from Property Solvers UK comments; “if you’re planning to create very large wall-less spaces.
such as warehouses, atriums or whole open floors of domestic properties, this option is usually the answer”.
As open-plan living spaces have risen in popularity throughout recent years, steel has begun to be used more frequently in residential construction as well as in commercial structures.
It is easy to use steel to create an additional self-supporting structure that is attached to the main property
So they are highly popular for the building of extensions.
What’s more, steel beams can be extended themselves, by way of welding on additional lengths of metal, making them highly versatile even after installation.
If you’re planning to add a huge window spanning many meters or levels, a steel beam is your best option to support it.
The material is also perfect for reinforcing floors and walls that have been earmarked to support exceptionally heavy items.
Contemporary interior design has seen a significant rise in the popularity of industrial and minimalist aesthetics.
The use of exposed steel as a feature in and of itself is a striking way to achieve this while spending very little.
Steels are quick to fabricate offsite, making them the perfect choice for construction specialists who are working on a very tight schedule.
They are also popular with prefab manufacturers, for whom efficiency and a swift installation are key.
If a steel frame has been properly designed, all of its components can be quickly manufactured and transported to the site.
where they should fit neatly together like a puzzle.
What’s more, for all the ways in which they make the building process more efficient and effective – and despite their impressive longevity – steels are surprisingly cheap.
They are regularly used to keep construction budgets as low as possible.
Unlike many major building materials, steel can be recycled.
In fact, as of 2019, approximately 70% of all steel ever produced was still being used in some way.
This significantly reduces the amount of energy used during the refining and manufacturing process as well as preventing the further creation of harmful by-products.
For this reason, steel is a highly sustainable building material
That is ideal for developers who are trying to reduce their carbon footprint.
- Of course, steel may not always be the ideal material for your project.
- There is no real need for it in many smaller domestic projects.
- For example, and there are a number of potential drawbacks to the extensive use of steel in some buildings.
While steel is fireproof, the metal is an exceptional conductor and, if not treated, can end up heating to very high temperatures – making it a major fire hazard.
For this reason, specialist fireproofing must be applied around steels being installed in areas.
Where there is any risk. This can push up the price of a project considerably.
Despite the levels of resistance it offers, steel can still rust under certain conditions.
If this is at all possible, expensive coatings must be applied to the metal to prevent it – which can further affect a project’s budget.
Risk of Buckling
Steels are usually perfectly suitable for spanning long distances without support.
But it is easy to take this too far. The longer a beam is made, the more likely it is to buckle.
Which can lead to dangerous and costly structural issues and even collapse.
As mentioned earlier, it is possible to weld additional components onto steel bars or frames.
However, making changes involving cutting or forming can be particularly challenging, especially while on site.
For this reason, steel structures must be planned and designed with great care and accuracy in order to avoid additional expenses and delays.
Steels can only be fabricated by certain specialists with the correct equipment and almost never at the site itself.
This means that, depending on the location of the intended build, these components may need to be transported over significant distances.
It is important to consider the above matters when deciding whether or not your project should include a steel frame or beams.
Used correctly, this material can be exceptionally efficient.
But you must also weigh this against the risks mentioned above.
Developers and builders should thoroughly assess the requirements of each project and consider both the benefits and the risks of including steel.
At the start of the build or refurbishment in order to make an informed decision.
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