Building with steel seems like an obvious choice for large structures like skyscrapers and warehouses, but many property owners overlook the equally viable benefits of its use in building smaller structures. When constructing a small structure for business or a home, choosing to build with steel increases the versatility and durability of your project.
Steel vs. Wood
The conventional use of wood framing in structures has reached a point of being more used out of habit and tradition than for performance. Building with wood has inherent disadvantages that are alleviated by the use of steel in a structure’s framing. Steel internal supports are not subject to rot, water damage or insect infestation. Steel is able to foster larger open spaces inside a structure because the acceptable length that steel beams can extend without additional support is much further than wood. A steel frame will not settle or crack and is more resistant to extreme weather conditions.
In a direct comparison, a beam made of wood is cheaper than a comparable stud made of steel. In that context of comparison, wood always appears to be a significantly cheaper option, but this ignores the totality of calculating materials’ costs in a construction project. In a wood-framed structure, there will be waste because boards must be cut to size on location. This is an unavoidable characteristic of wood that is alleviated by the use of steel. Steel structures are designed to be prefabricated then assembled on location, so there is no waste. Since wood is organic, there can be warped and unusable materials included in orders. Steel is efficient in its use and practical in its application. Building with steel dramatically reduces materials waste and labor hours, which lowers overall project costs significantly.
Steel is Good for You and the Environment
Steel used in framing structures is considered a renewable resource because it can be manufactured from recycled metal products. Many grades of steel can be recycled and re-manufactured to reduce the effects new construction demands will have on the environment. Unfortunately, though wood is considered a renewable resource, it cannot compete with steel’s life cycle turnaround time. In addition to being friendly to the global environment, steel is friendly to the personal environment because it is not susceptible to mold or absorption issues.
Building with wood is a tradition that has been practiced and refined for so long that many are apprehensive of any modernization to those materials for fear of creating industrial and drab structures. However, when a home or building is framed in steel, this does not affect the finishing possibilities. In most cases, only the longevity of the structure will reveal the secret of its steel-framed construction.
Jim has worked in the steel manufacturing industry for fifteen years. He often writes articles about the benefits of steel buildings over other building types.