Structural steel holds a unique place in the world of construction materials. In fact, compared to other building materials such as concrete, wood, and masonry, structural steel commands a much greater market share. Yet despite this continued popularity, many people fail to understand the particular advantages of structural steel.
Unfortunately, this lack of understanding leads many to overlook structural steel when it comes to constructing new buildings, as well as structural components such as stairs and platforms. If you would like to improve your knowledge of structural steel, read on. This article will discuss three key advantages of this versatile building material.
Most people naturally think of steel as a heavy material. It can certainly be a surprise to learn that, when it comes to building materials, steel tends to be one of the lightest options. This ties directly to its incredible internal strength. It would take a veritable heap of concrete to rival the strength of a relatively thin beam of steel.
Perhaps more surprisingly, steel retains its lightweight status even when compared to wood. This doesn't mean that a piece of steel weighs less than an equally sized piece of wood. Steel, after all, has a much greater density than wood. For example, the density of steel is about 12 times greater than that of the commonly used framing wood known as Southern Yellow Pine.
The difference lies in the amount of the material necessary to build a sound structure. It would take a much greater volume of wood to achieve the strength of steel. Taken as a whole, then, steel represents the lighter way to frame a structure. This can have a huge effect when it comes to reducing both labor and shipping costs.
When it comes to the time it takes to actually put together a structure, steel holds a clear advantage. This stems from the fact that steel building components have been meticulously pre-engineered to fit a particular building design. In other words, the steel has already been fabricated to fulfill its ultimate goal.
The difference between structural steel and other building materials can be likened to the difference between Legos and Play-Doh. Once structural steel has arrived on-site, workers simply have to erect it and fasten it together. This allows more time to be spent on quality control. It also makes it easier to disassemble the structure in the event that any changes need to be made.
Structural steel also holds clear advantages when it comes to long-term durability. Wood and concrete, by comparison, both suffer from significant Achilles' heels. In the case of wood, this has to do with the propensity to develop mold and/or rot when exposed to water. Rot in particular can be devastating, quickly reducing a wooden structure to a pile of moldering scraps.
Concrete also displays key weaknesses when it comes to its relationship with moisture. Concrete is naturally porous, meaning it will soak up water in a sponge-like manner. This can cause the volume of the concrete to undergo changes, swelling to greater sizes as its moisture content increases. Increased amounts of internal stress can in turn cause cracks and other structural problems to form.
Steel remains invulnerable to both rot and moisture absorption. Of course, it should be acknowledged that steel can be compromised by corrosion. Fortunately, structural steel building materials almost always come with a protective coating of zinc to help keep rust and corrosion at bay.
The more you learn about structural steel, the more clear its advantages become. For more information about what it takes to fabricate and erect structures made of steel, please don't hesitate to contact the metal working pros at A Plus Industrial Installation.