05 Oct Structural Steel or Reinforced Concrete?
One of the early decisions that needs to be taken for any structural frame is the use of steel or reinforced concrete. This has long-term effect on the project, including cost and durability. Your choice has an overall impact on different aspects of building design, and its performance. Many businesses comparing structural steel to reinforced concrete find that steel is a more cost-effective solution compared to concrete. But cost isn’t the only factor you should consider when working on construction or civil engineering projects.
When it comes to cost then structural steel has a slight edge over reinforced concrete. Structural steelwork represents only 20% of overall steelwork used in construction, and this is the main reason why steelwork is much cheaper compared to reinforced concrete. The price of construction material has grown overall but the impact of this growth is more on concrete (by mass) than steel.
In terms of construction timing, concrete has a slight edge. It is said that building with concrete can be double the speed compared to a steel structure. But there are different views in support of structural steel as well. Many businesses prefer working with steel due to its versatility, strength and ease of construction.
Here is a summary of the comparative advantages and disadvantages of structural steel and reinforced concrete:
Reinforced Concrete Pros & Cons
- Better fire-proof quality than steel, wood or brick.
- Can take any shape with the right moulding.
- Cost effective construction materials when it comes to certain structures like dams, footings, and piers.
- Comparatively expensive.
- When compared to steel it has low compressive strength.
- Requires mixing, casting and curing. This might result in a change in the final strength of the concrete.
Structural Steel Pros & Cons
- Cost effective in terms of materials and labour.
- They are considered as the future of construction, with many innovations improving the quality and versatility of steel year on year.
- Useful for construction of offices and commercial buildings.
- Easily available at competitive prices.
- Space can be optimised.
- Not all builders are used to this material and it requires special tools to operate.
- Structural steel components are prone to fire damage compared to concrete.
- During winter the steel structures get cold easily and this might affect people working or living inside it. (This negative can be counteracted with the appropriate coatings and insulation.