Use of steel began in the late 1800s, and it has since become an important part of modern construction. Before that, it was cast iron that was used to give strength and structure to buildings. However, steel as construction material has proven to be structurally sounder and more resistant to fire than other.
Steel is normally used in the form of structural steel. These are beams with standard shapes for various uses in the building industry. These may be in the form of I-beams, C-beam, T-beam, hollow structural sections where the cross section is rectangular, square, circular, or elliptical, angle with an L-shaped cross section, bars, rods, and plates.
A large amount of steel is required for each construction. Do you know that China is a world-wide manufacturer and exporter of steel. You can save a lot of money importing construction materials from China like steel.
Advantages of Using Steel as Construction Material
These are used in conjunction with concrete to give stability and durability to a building structure. Concrete, while being cheaper than structural steel, does not have the right strength-to-weight ratio. However, this is not a factor in buildings with low heights, so the low cost of concrete outweighs the strength of steel.
Regardless, there is a distinct value of steel as construction material. Some of the properties of structural steel that make it advantageous over concrete as a building material are:
Strength: It is a strong material. When compared to timber or concrete, a smaller volume of steel can bear more load. Because concrete is more resistant to corrosion and steel is stronger, the two are combined to construct durable buildings.
Ductility: This property makes it able to withstand high pressures without snapping. Because of this property, if a steel structure is damaged, it becomes visible in the form of warping or bending. This makes it safer than concrete being used independently since it can collapse without any warning.
Elasticity: It can recover its position from mild forces easily. For example, a tall building reinforced with steel support will sway in strong winds but will come back to its original position once the external force is gone. Concrete does not have this elasticity.
Fire-resistant: While it can lose a lot of its strength in case of temperatures higher than 500 degrees Celsius, it is largely resistant to fire and heat. While concrete shares this property, timber is highly flammable.
Structural versatility: Structural steel is a material that can be used instantly and can be welded or joined to make a variety of shapes. This gives it better efficiency than concrete which requires curing for 7-14 days after it is poured. Steel is also useful in buildings that might require additional building work.
Disadvantages of Using Steel as Construction Material
While steel is a strong and versatile material for construction, it does have a few downsides.
- Corrosion: It is highly susceptible to corrosion from water, which can weaken it significantly. This means that steel structures need to be waterproofed.
- High Cost: Steel as a construction material can cost quite a lot due to the processing costs. Combined with the fact that it requires waterproofing treatment and heat resistant coatings, it can be quite costly to use and maintain.
- Fatigue: Steel, while resilient to most stress, is highly susceptible to fatigue due to cyclical stress. It can also buckle under certain conditions.