- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 06 Mar 2019
Metal in construction
Metals are solid material that are generally hard, shiny, malleable, fusible, ductile, and have good electrical and thermal conductivity. Metals are commonly used in the construction industry due to their durability and strength to form structural components, pipework, cladding materials and other components.
Steel is an alloy of iron and a number of other elements, mainly carbon, that has a high tensile strength and relatively low cost and is used for structural and other applications in the construction industry.
Types of steel include:
- Stainless steel: Steel combined with chromium (and sometimes nickel). Stainless steels generally do not form rust on their surfaces and do not discolour.
- Galvanised steel: A zinc coated steel that is resistant to corrosion.
- Weathering steel: Has a rust-like appearance that can resist corrosion and abrasion, by forming a protective surface layer, or patina.
- Other alloys.
For more information see: Steel.
Because of its ductility, aluminium can be formed into many shapes and profiles. Aluminium wall cladding systems are commonly used for building exteriors, with large wall panels requiring fewer joints, resulting in time-efficient installation. Today, aluminium is the second most used metal in buildings after steel, used for roofing, flashing, wall panels, windows and doors, spandrels, and so on.
For more information see: Aluminium.
Types of iron include:
For more information see: Iron.
Copper is a soft, malleable, and ductile metal with high thermal and electrical conductivity. It is a pinkish-orange colour. Copper is commonly used in the construction industry to form pipes and tubing, as it is malleable and joints can be easily formed by soldering. It is also used as a cladding material, sometimes allowed to oxidise to a blue green colour.
For more information see: Copper.
In construction, lead is used due to its ductility to form roofs and other cladding panels as well as windows, linings for cornices, tanks, copings, gutters and downpipes, flashing, and so on. It is also a component of soft solder.
Historically it was used in paints and pipework. Most lead-based paint was banned from sale to the general public in the UK in 1992. It has not been used for water pipes since 1970, however, it may still be present in older properties. It is recommended that lead pipes should be replaced.
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Rebuilding could take 20 to 40 years.
RSHP’s high-rise residential towers win a tall buildings award for excellence.
BSRIA study reveals strong growth in 2018.
Dame Judith Hackitt confirmed as keynote speaker – one year on from the Hackitt Report.
Save £100 on tickets.
Modern slavery in the construction sector.
What to bear in mind when claiming damages in construction.
How do we achieve sustainable clean-water infrastructure for all?
What you should know when appointing an architect.
A brief history plus some new developments.
How computational fluid dynamics (CFD) helps building design.
The Hong Kong Harbour Area Treatment Scheme (HATS).
'Expressions of interest' for construction contracts.