- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
- Specialist wikis
Last edited 10 Oct 2021
Concrete vs. steel
Concrete is a conventionally used material for construction while steel is now gaining momentum for its flexibility and reduced construction time. Both concrete and steel framed structures have environmental issues associated with their use, including a high embodied energy in their manufacture.
Concrete has some advantages; waste materials can be included within the mix, such as GGBS (Ground Granulated Blast-Furnace Slag) and PFA (Pulverised Fuel Ash). In addition, moves are being made to assess the potential of using recycled concrete, however, issues such as moisture content and material variability dictate that it is economically unviable.
Steel, while having a high lead time, is known for its fast erection on site. However, steel needs fire protection whereas within concrete this is inherent. Prefabrication of steel can allow thin film intumescent coatings to be applied offsite.
Efficiency within concrete construction is being improved by the adoption of hybrid solutions and innovations in formwork such as self-climbing forms. The use of precast concrete construction can also help to significantly reduce build time particularly where vertical elements are considered to be the main limitation.
The construction of a steel framework is comparatively lightweight, as much as sixty percent lighter than a comparable reinforced concrete frame solution which might allow for a less expensive foundation system. In addition, modification to the building can sometimes be facilitated by simple removal of a structural steel member.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
- Architectural concrete.
- Concrete frame.
- Concrete-steel composite structures.
- Galvanised steel.
- Intumescent coatings.
- Metal fabrication.
- Precast concrete.
- Prestressed concrete.
- Reinforced concrete.
- Stainless steel.
- Stainless steel vs. galvanised steel.
- Structural steelwork.
- Structural systems for offices.
- Thermal mass.
- Types of steel.
 External references
Featured articles and news
CIC 2050 Group requests input to find out priorities for future industry leaders.
IHBC publishes response to consultation.
Institute applauds funding initiatives but presses for additional retrofit and tax measures.
The switch from analogue to digital has begun.
The fourth industrial revolution is well underway.
Free online resource will offer guidance on conserving places and the planet during COP26.
Government allocates additional money for building new homes on derelict land.
Smart built environments can be designed around the requirements of real people.
Consistency is at the core of realistic strategies.