5 of the Most Common Uses for Structural Steel

On February 16, 2018 by Preeti Shah

Structural steel has many practical uses that provide the backbone for all types of construction projects, and there are a lot of advantages to using steel during a construction project. For example, steel has a great strength to weight ratio; it comes in many efficient shapes; and its metal pieces join easily.

Steel comes in many shapes and sizes like columns, beams, joists, and studs. Despite steel being a ubiquitous construction material, people often don’t realize where and how often steel is used, so here are 5 structural steel uses for construction projects that you may not think about for steel:

  1. Bridges

bridges built with steel

With millions of cars passing over some of the biggest bridges, the material used in bridge construction must be able to withstand the endured stress. One benefit to using steel is it is a tensile metal, or a metal with a high strength to weight ratio. This means that engineers can build large bridges that will be able to last for many years.

A testament to steel’s prowess in tensile strength is the Brooklyn Bridge; standing for over 127 years, it is the oldest suspension bridge in the United States and includes steel-wire suspensions. So if you’re looking to build a bridge for your next project, you’ll be certain to get large return on investment with putting structural steel cables into your project.

  1. Industrial Buildings

Industrial Building
Industrial buildings are another kind of construction project that could utilize more of steel’s full potential, because structural steel is also cost effective. The reason why steel has become very cost-effective is due to the large variety of ready-made steel sections and structural frameworks. These pre-made parts are relatively easy to assemble and are easy to ship to a site ready to install immediately.

Steel is also one of the strongest building materials available on the market, as mentioned above, and it is also designed to have a high strength-to-weight ratio. These three factors are what make steel an ideal construction material for industrial buildings, which often require a quick time to complete and a strong frame to build.

  1. High Rise Buildings

high rise buildings built with steel

When building for height, structural steel is necessary in order to withstand the forces exerted upon the building over time. High-rise buildings are a unique exception in that they are built as high as 20-30 stories or more, so it is imperative that engineers look to steel for assistance.

Structural steel is resistant to many natural external forces like wind and earthquakes, because it is a strong, flexible metal. So, if a storm or an earthquake were ever to hit a large high rise building, the steel of that building will not break under that pressure, rather it will bend with the forces. Much like the suspension bridges discussed earlier, that flexibility allows steel to stay strong against great forces.

Another benefit to using steel in tall buildings is the speed of construction possible with steel. High rises can shoot up in the matter of a year, which can be very valuable especially in the case of a building like the Empire State Building with 60,000 tons of steel in its frame.

  1. Parking Garages

parking garages built with steel

The next project that structural steel is ideal for is building parking garages. For many of the reasons that steel is useful to a large building, so too is steel for a parking garage. Steel building material allows construction projects to save time and money, all the while investing in a durable, ready-to-install product.

Parking garages present a challenge to engineers who must be able to figure out how to balance the weight of all the vehicles on each floor of the garage. Another benefit to a parking garage construction project is the strength-to-weight ratio that steel offers to engineers, making it possible to build higher and higher parking garages without compromising the integrity of the parking garage.

  1. Residential Buildings

Residential Building
The last kind of construction project where steel is very useful is in residential buildings. Residential buildings utilize a process called light gauge steel, which helps to maximize the strength level in a building’s structure. Light gauge steel construction supports buildings where wood and other construction materials cannot get the job done.

Much like building a wooden support frame, light gauge steel ensures that buildings will last for years and will be finished in timely manner, which is benefit for both construction managers and residential building owners. Another reason why light gauge steel construction is so valuable to home construction is resilience.

The greater plasticity and flexibility found in structural steel makes it an all-around better construction material for residential buildings. Especially for buildings located in high risk zones like near earthquake faults and along the seacoast, light gauge steel design makes a building’s longevity much more reliable than compared to other building materials.

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