Last edited 22 May 2018

8 Reasons Why Structural Steel Frames Are Advantageous For Any Building Projects

Wood, concrete, and steel are all common materials used in constructing structures, and arguments could be made as to why one of these materials would be ideal for a given project.

Steel framing is a construction method where steel columns and beams are assembled to create a support for the floors in a building. In this article, we look at the advantages that steel frames have over other construction materials and why they are the common choice in modern buildings.


[edit] Higher Strength

Steel has a higher density than lumber or concrete which means that for the same dimensions, steel will be heavier. However, weight is not the only factor. A length of 2x4 steel will be able to carry more load than the same length of 2x4 lumber. In practice, this means that less steel can be used to provide the same amount of support that lumber can provide.

The consequences of this decrease in material are reduced material shipping costs, reduced labor, and the simplification of the design of the foundation and other structural supports.

[edit] Longevity

Steel will last longer than wood or concrete, assuming that all three are properly maintained.

Unlike wood, steel does not split, crack, or creep as it ages. It is not vulnerable to termites and lacks porosity so mold and mildew cannot grow. It does not warp, rot, or expand when there is an increase in moisture. However, contact with water must be prevented because this will cause corrosion.

To protect the steel, a coating of fire-resistant and water-resistant material must be applied. The fire-resistant material prevents the steel from losing its strength and integrity in a fire while the water-resistant material prevents rusting.

[edit] Versatility

Structural steel can be fabricated into different shapes while still maintaining its strength. The use of steel allows for creative and innovative designs. Architects and designers utilize this capability to create structures that are not only aesthetically pleasing but also structurally sound. Structural steel also allows for the creation of large span buildings such as indoor arenas and airplane hangars as well as the capability to build very high skyscrapers.

It is also easy to future-proof when using steel frames because they are more conducive to structural addition or modification such as renovations or expanding the size of the existing building. Other components such as toilet areas can easily be integrated in the future.

[edit] Sustainability

The use of computer modelling before fabrication reduces the amount of scrap steel produced.

Any scrap that was produced can then be recycled for use in other projects like cars or bridges years into the future. Steel is endlessly recyclable because it does not lose any inherent properties like strength when it is molten down and recast.

You can also reuse timber by transforming it to other things like tables or chairs but there will come a time when scrap wood is too small or the shape is too awkward to work with. Concrete can also be broken down for use in future mixes, but is only successfully used for pavements.

[edit] Safety

The tensile strength of steel frames allows them to perform well in natural phenomena such as strong winds during hurricanes, seismic activity, or even snow loads. These phenomena become more problematic as the structure becomes higher. Steel also performs better in emergencies such as explosions and impact.

On lower structures, wood offers enough flexibility but there will also be a fire risk. Steel is noncombustible so it is not a fire risk. However, its strength becomes compromised when subjected to extreme temperatures, unlike concrete. However, concrete in itself is not very flexible so its tensile strength must be increased by reinforcing it with steel.

[edit] Faster Build Times

Computer-assisted manufacturing of standardised bolted connections and repetitive floor plates make production faster while standardisation and regulatory policies have made structural steel components dependable and easy to erect.

The steel frames are prefabricated offsite to fit a certain specification before being sent to the construction site. After they are sent out, they are immediately ready to be assembled by bolting or welding the pieces together, unlike concrete wherein you have to wait for a section to cure before continuing the construction.

There is also no need for temporary formwork like shoring or scaffolding which needs to be assembled and then dismantled afterward, delaying the construction as well as producing waste.

[edit] Cost-effective

Since steel frames are fabricated off-site, on-site labour is reduced by 10-20%. Fewer workers also mean reduced accident liabilities.

Shorter construction times result in less financing costs, fewer interest payments to the lender who usually requires payments throughout the construction process, and means that the building can be used or rented as soon as possible for faster payback commencement.

Steel is durable so maintenance costs in terms of repairs and replacements will be lower through the years. Insurance companies also offer cheaper premium insurance for structures that are constructed with steel because of their ability to withstand decay, pests, and natural disasters.

[edit] Space Maximisation

By being stronger, steel frames can be spaced wider which also creates wider bays. The wider available space allows for more flexible floor designs that can maximize the available space. Although concrete is strong as well, it has a more limited floor-to-floor construction height as well as inferior for large open spanning.

Commercial buildings are not the only ones that benefit from steel frames as residential homes can reduce load-bearing wood pillars by replacing it with steel. This can free up floor space which needs to be maximised in this age where residential property is very expensive.

There are many other advantages of using steel. Steel frames can be constructed in any weather, and easily adaptable to sudden design changes from the client. It is also easier to maintain because the frame is visible for inspection.

However, construction materials should not be limited to exclusive use. Today, metal-reinforced wood beams, as well as fiber-reinforced concrete, are available in the market. When they are combined, the hybrids formed are not only stronger than the individual components but are also cost-effective.