Nowadays, significant application of structural steel is found practically in all industries. From finished products to industrial equipment, the use of structural steel can be found everywhere.
Industry experts prefer the use of structural steel over alternatives for building materials. This is primarily due to the benefits of structural steel, but like everything in the world, there are some downsides to it.
What Are Structural Steel Frames?
Before diving into a lengthy list of pros and cons, it is necessary that you understand the basics of steel frame construction. It typically consists of horizontal beams and vertical columns. They are welded, riveted, or bolted together in a rectilinear grid. Let’s look at the various advantages and disadvantages of using steel frames.
Steel structures are highly recommended for heavy and oversized structures, which can be observed in every industrial building. Different floor heights can be produced using girder slabs, truss, and castellated beam construction. Expansive systems can be constructed that otherwise would not have been possible using wood or concrete support.
Ceiling joists allow steel to span greater distances. The design flexibility that a steel frame structure offers makes it highly favored by engineers. They can implement a greater variety of design options for creating new and large spaces according to the needs of their clients.
When it comes to civil works, it is crucial to deliver structures that are safe under unexpected loads. Due to the high strength/weight ratio, products made out of steel are typically slender and are more likely to experience buckling than reinforced concrete. In order to develop resistance to buckling, appropriate materials need to be used for slender steel frames.
Pro: Durability and Strength
Components made out of wood and concrete are heavier and weaker than their steel frame counterparts. Wooden components, on average, are 30% to 50% heavier than steel components, and it allows the structures produced from steel frames to be stronger and more durable.
Moreover, steel structures are capable of withstanding constantly changing weather conditions and extreme force. They are likely to perform better in the event of an earthquake, hurricane, strong winds, and even snow. Unlike wooden structures, steel frames are resistant to fire, rust, termites, bugs, mildew, mold, and any fungal contamination.
Con: Fracture and Fatigue
Even though steel is quite strong, large variations in individual steel strength cause unequal and excessive tension throughout the entire structure. This makes the frame susceptible to fatigue and decreases overall strength.
Once the steel component loses its ductility, the structure becomes more responsive to brittle fractures. It increases the likelihood of buckling, however, the problem is usually counterbalanced by stiffening the primary structure. That process includes adding expensive steel columns.
Pro: Speedy Construction
The world today is fast-paced, and as soon as the design for an industrial building is approved, the investors expect it to be erected in a matter of months. The components of steel frames can be pre-manufactured according to a specific design. Once ready, they are shipped out of the manufacturing plant to the destination, where they only need to be installed. Large-scale structures can be completed in a shorter time frame and result in fast and precise construction.
Con: Treatment for Fireproofing
Even though steel can withstand high temperatures up to a certain point, its strength is significantly compromised when exposed to continuously increasing temperatures. Moreover, steel is an excellent conductor of heat and can contribute to spreading fire to other sections of the building. Both factors increase the likelihood of buckling.
In order to make steel frames fireproof, they are often layered with a fireproof coating. Steel structures are encased in a mineral block to protect them from heat. These blocks contribute to the project’s overall high cost, and their maintenance is not cheap either.
Pros: Environment Friendly
If you are an environmentalist, you will be glad to know that steel is considered one of the most recyclable materials worldwide. Not only will using recycled steel contribute to lower costs, but it will also prevent unnecessary mining of natural resources. In contrast, wood is only partially recyclable, whereas concrete can only be used once.
If you are in the planning stages of development, it is worth considering steel components for your frames. It is an excellent option if you want speedy construction, lower costs, and less maintenance. If you are unsure, it can never hurt to get in touch with a professional who will assess and recommend the primary building materials according to your needs.