Advantages of steel over other counterpart materials

The reason even Superman is the man of steel

Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster created Superman in the 1930s. Steel frame buildings the technology for which was invented in 1879, was in full swing by then. It made the construction of skyscrapers possible. We don’t know for sure whether the steel plate armours or the imposing buildings of steel christened Superman as the “Man of Steel”. What we know for sure is that steel as a building material is one of the most widely used and is in high demand in the construction industry. Steel has proven to be strong, versatile, durable and affordable.

There are many reasons steel is preferred over other materials for construction. Drift from RCC to Structural Steel construction has taken place due to some of the unique qualities of structural steel. Steel is used for a lot of different projects, like road, rail and airport constructions, buildings, parks and bridges. Steel is used in so many construction projects because of its durability and consistency. Steel is an advantage for companies and homeowners as it is fire-resistant and does not burn. Also being a non organic material it does not rot, split, crack, warp, twist, or break.

Let’s look at the advantages of steel over other building materials.

Environment friendly Steel, besides being made from iron ore & recycled materials, is one of the few metals that can be continuously recycled without breaking down or becoming weak. Moreover, during the process of manufacturing, the waste produced by steel (2%) is much less than that of wood (15-20%).

As per the Steel Recycling Institute:

  • The amount of steel recycled every year is about 80 million tons, thereby making it the world's most recycled product.
  • Since 1990, the energy intensity per ton of steel produced has reduced by 28% and CO2 emissions per ton of steel shipped has reduced by 35%.
  • Energy use and CO2 emissions are being reduced towards the limits of the laws of physics.

Steel is very cost effectiveWith so many advantages, steel becomes a very affordable option for construction of projects. Because of being made of partially recycled materials and its durability, it is very cost effective. This helps the company to be more competitive and bring in more profit and success. Let’s look in detail at the cost savings that makes steel one of the most affordable building materials in the global market.

  • Steel can be recycled thus eliminating the need for landfill fees for non-recyclable construction waste.
  • Steel is durable and requires little maintenance, repairs or replacements over 50 years or more, which proves to be an economical choice for building owners.
  • Innovation in steel production and the competition has lowered steel prices drastically over the last 20 years. According to the American Institute of Steel Construction, "In 1980, 10 man-hours were required to produce a single ton of steel. Today that same ton of structural steel requires substantially less than a single man-hour." Thus, these cost savings benefit the customers.
  • A steel structure can withstand high winds, heavy snow loads, fire and seismic activities, and are resistant to pests and decay. Thus, there are lower premiums offered by insurance companies on policies underwritten for metal buildings.
  • Steel construction is faster, which means lesser interest on the cost of funds.

Steel is lighter than woodIf a 2x4 piece of wood and a 2x4 piece of steel are weighed, the steel weighs more because of its density. But when it is framed, a steel I-beam will almost always be lighter than the lightest, structurally sound wood beam. The weight of a steel I-beam is lesser than glulams, laminated veneer lumber, and Parallam beams.

As steel weighs less, it also decreases the labour required and the cost of materials shipping, and can also simplify the design of a building's foundation and other structural support systems, which can further bring down the project budgets.

Building with steel is fasterSteel parts are engineered and designed beforehand at the manufacturing plant and are ready to be erected when they arrive at the construction site. This makes it easier and much faster to build and lessens the construction time, thus allowing large-scale projects to get completed much faster.

The fabrication process is highly quality-controlled, so project managers can focus on other issues on a project. The ready to assemble parts do not need measuring and cutting on site which also eliminates the possibility of human error. With the lessening of the project completion time, others disruptions caused to traffic, the way to surrounding businesses and water or utility disruptions to nearby buildings are also lessened.

Steel is versatileThe versatility of steel is unmatched. It can be moulded into virtually any shape and patterns, while being safe and strong. This feature is the reason for the versatile designs of airplane hangars, bridges, warehouses, agricultural buildings, skyscrapers, Industrial structures and indoor arenas.

In residential sector too, this design versatility and flexibility is a huge advantage, for example, if a wall is to be knocked out for renovation purposes, there is an option of running a steel beam across the ceiling and opening up the space, instead of having a load bearing pillar in the room. Additionally, steel and metal are used for siding and roofing materials that far outlast their wooden counterparts.

All of these advantages of steel as a construction material mean it is one of the best materials that can be used to build, which enhances the value of the property. While Techflow has not undertaken the steel detailing project for the man from Krypton, we are proud to be associated with some of the world’s largest & extra ordinary super structures as their steel detailer.