What is Steel Structure? Benefits & Types

steel structure

Steel is one of the strongest and most durable building materials available, making it the best choice for a steel building. However, there are a lot of different types of steel construction that you can choose from, and not all steel buildings are the same.

If you’re debating whether or not to build a steel building, you need to know what steel structure is, what its benefits are, and what types of steel buildings are available, as each has its own strengths and weaknesses.

What is Steel Structure?

A steel structure is a structure that has a completely metal layout, including the support loads. This gives the building more strength and durability, and it requires fewer raw materials than a structure made from steel or timber.

A steel structure can be any type of structure, including:

  • Industrial buildings
  • High rise buildings
  • Infrastructure
  • Bridges
  • Towers
  • Airport terminals
  • Homes
  • Warehouses
  • Barns
  • Storage buildings
  • Garages
  • And more!

Since steel structures are highly customizable, they can be used for any type of structure or building, and they can even be designed to look like they were made out of a different type of material. It is a much more versatile building material than many people think.

Benefits of steel structure

Steel has many excellent attributes that make it the perfect choice for any building system.

Steel Structures Offer Design Freedom

Steel buildings are completely customizable, giving someone design freedom when they decide to build a custom building. One of the best things about steel is its strength, which allows it to offer large, open rooms without the need for support columns or load-bearing walls.

Another great thing about this design freedom is that steel is easy to add onto if needed. Sometimes, a home or commercial building starts to feel a little too cramped and small, but you can easily build on it if the building is steel. It can be expensive to expand another building type, but you can just tack on an addition to an exterior wall.

Steel is Fast and Efficient to Build

Steel buildings can be constructed up to 50 percent faster than other buildings take, no matter the season. Since everything is manufactured offsite, there is not as much onsite that has to be done, so it can be put together in much less time.

Steel is Recyclable

While you may not think it, steel is the most recyclable building material out there. It is nearly 100 percent recyclable, and its structural integrity is not diminished each time it gets recycled.

Fire Resistance

Whether this is going to be a residential or commercial building, making it fire-resistant is a good thing. Steel is not flammable, so you will pay less in insurance for the building, and it will help protect the people and things inside of it if there is a fire nearby.

Damage Resistance

Steel is a highly durable building material, so if the structure is in an area that is prone to earthquakes, hurricanes, high winds, or heavy snowfall, it is much more likely to stand up to the elements than a building made of other materials. It is also immune to mold and damage from insects and pests since it is not organic.

Steel is Eco-Friendly

The carbon footprint of steel is substantially less than that of a concrete or wooden structure. Even the amount of fuel used to bring it to the job site is a little less since it is a much lighter material than other construction materials. The steel can be recycled at the end of the life of the building, so there is no waste left behind.

Steel is also energy-efficient, so it will keep the building warmer or cooler, allowing the HVAC system to use a little less.

Steel Building Components Are Uniform in Design

Steel is much more reliable in construction than other materials because of the way it is made. Unlike timber or concrete, which can have some weak spots in them, steel is designed to be significantly more reliable. This means that if there is a weather event, you will not have any spots in the building that are more likely to break under the pressure.

Steel is More Available

Good quality timber is getting increasingly expensive. Steel is both easy to find, and it is much more affordable than other construction materials. Since it is recyclable, that means we will not run out of it.

Steel Buildings Are Low Maintenance

One major benefit to using steel for your structure is that they are incredibly low maintenance. You do not have to worry about damage from weather or pests, the paint will not fade, and you will not have to replace shingles on the roof. Overall, you will save a lot of money on building maintenance with steel.

Types of Steel Structures

Now that we know more about steel buildings. There are five main types of steel buildings, so let’s take a look at each.

Arch Style Steel Building

The arch style building, also known as a Quonset hut, is typically made out of corrugated steel. These buildings are known for being shaped like a semi-circle, which has a rounded roof. This means there is less useable space in the interior of the building because the walls slope down to the foundation, so you end up with a lot of unused space. This shape also makes it easy for the building to shed snow.

While these buildings usually have a lower price than others, they require a concrete slab to build on, which can make construction costs higher. It can also be more difficult to insulate a Quonset hut because of its curved shape.

You may also encounter zoning restrictions with an arch style building because many areas have forbidden building new arch style structures.

Web Truss Steel Buildings

A web truss steel building has a web-like pattern framing. The beams are all V-shaped, which is what gives the framing its web shaped pattern. These buildings use a little less steel throughout the framing, which can reduce material costs, but it also can reduce the strength of the trusses.

Since this building style can be difficult to construct, you may be looking at higher construction costs for this building.

Another thing to keep in mind with a web truss building is that it can only give you up to 125 feet of column-free space, while other steel buildings can offer up to 300 feet of space.

Since there is less material, it is also a little less durable than other steel buildings. Web truss buildings also often have trouble with birds nesting in the framing.

Tube Steel Buildings

Tube steel is a hollow tube beam that is made of steel. It is great for a carport because it is a pretty lightweight structure. The shape of the beams can be any shape, not just round, and it is frequently mistaken for pipes, though the dimensions are significantly different. These buildings are extremely DIY-friendly and can be erected with some of the most common household tools. Tube steel buildings are at a lower price because they require so little material.

There are two major downsides to tube steel buildings. The first is that tube steel is so light that it can fail under harsh weather conditions. It also requires perimeter poles every eight feet to support the structure since it is a little less sturdy than other steel buildings.

C-Channel Steel Buildings

C-Channel buildings are a popular choice for steel construction. These are excellent buildings for garages, workshops, offices, storage businesses, and homes. A c-channel building is shaped similarly to the letter “C,” and when two c-channel frames are installed back-to-back, this building style can be mistaken for an I-beam.

The downside of c-channel buildings is that they are limited to only four building sizes. They also are limited to geographic locations because of the engineering that goes into these buildings.

Rigid Frame Steel Buildings

A rigid frame steel building has I-beams that are made of solid steel, giving the building better stability. Its framing can give you up to 300 feet of clear space without requiring support columns. The stability of I-beam steel buildings has allowed many of them to endure storms and hurricanes. These buildings are 100 percent customizable, too, so you can design them exactly how you want them to be. These are the most expensive buildings, but they are the most versatile and durable.

Final Thoughts

These are just the main types of steel building structure design. While it is not always obvious, steel buildings can be homes, warehouses, high rises, garages, workshops, and any other type of building. Steel buildings are durable and have been known to survive hurricanes, earthquakes, and other extreme weather events.