Why Steel is Used as a Building Material

Steel is used as a building material because steel has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any residential building material, and it is one of the least expensive construction materials. Properly treated steel building materials offer consistent material quality. The strength and quality of steel is responsible to make buildings safer. It provides buildings protection against adverse weather conditions such as tornadoes and earthquakes. Steel building materials require less maintenance, and steel materials are slower to age. Steel and steel framed structures may be finished with wood, brick, stone or a number of other materials of your choosing.

Steel Building Materials Provide Safety
Steel is a non-combustible, fire resistant building material that will not burn. Even if a steel or steel framed building was to catch fire from other materials in or attached to it, the steel will not assist in fueling the fire. This is contrast to wood buildings where wooden studs, rafters and beams could assist in energizing a fire. The strength of steel provides for it to withstand adverse weather conditions, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, earthquakes and other vicious rain and windstorms. Steel buildings can be constructed to meet the highest seismic and wind load specifications. Steel also protects against lighting strikes because the material naturally conducts electricity downwards to the ground.

Steel Materials Require Less Maintenance
Steel framing and steel buildings have been designed as practical alternatives to conventional wood buildings. There are no special foundation requirements for steel framed buildings. Structures may be constructed on a slab, pier and beam, piling, or basement foundation just as wood structures are. Unlike wood, steel is not susceptible to decay, mold, mildew or any other type of fungi. Steel building materials will not crack, rot, shrink, splinter, creep, split, warp, swell, or rust. Steel is not susceptible to wood rot, termites or carpenter ants. Steel does not expand and contract or otherwise twist due to weather conditions and moisture.

Steel Building Materials are Slow to Age
Unlike the organic nature of wood, steel building products are processed materials that are designed and engineered in accordance with national standards for strength and consistency. Steel building products are designed to be consistently straight and uniform. They will not bow, shrink or swell from the original position. This ensures that the walls of buildings will be straight and strong. The strength of steel and its resistance to the types of failure inherent to wood building products offers the benefit of eliminating instances of wall board cracks, nail pops, squeaky uneven floors, wavy walls, sagging roof lines and jammed uneven doors or windows.

Unlike wood, which degrades biologically from decay and termites, the most common form of material degradation for steel building materials is corrosion. In the presence of oxygen and water, an electrochemical reaction will cause steel to rust and corrode. However, there are ways to prevent steel from coming in contact with water and moisture. Properly coated steel building materials and materials that are protected by a viable building envelope can be protected such that they will resist rust and corrosion.


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