From commercial sites to residential options, it’s no secret that steel buildings have become a popular choice for builders across the country. But how does steel measure up against some of the more traditional building materials like aluminum, brick and concrete? Let’s compare.
Steel vs. Aluminum. What’s the Difference?
Aluminum and steel may look similar in style, but they are actually two very different materials.
Aluminum can be a very desirable metal to work with because it is a highly malleable and elastic material, which can be great for detailed work. But surprisingly, steel can also be shaped into unexpected curves and slopes to give buildings a unique look and style.
So is aluminum stronger than steel? Aluminum is often much lighter than steel, but steel is technically stronger, so you have to take into consideration the weight to strength ratio in your building. Steel has a high amount of carbon, which contributes to its general strength advantage. Because aluminum is lighter than steel, it’s considered a softer metal and is more prone to dents, dings and scratches. The strength of steel makes it incredibly durable – it typically does not warp, bend or become deformed under heavy weight, high heat or intense force.
With proper basic maintenance practices, upkeep should not be difficult for either steel or aluminum. Aluminum is known to be a highly rust-resistant material and has a high oxidation tolerance, but it can develop pitting and appear chalky if oxidation occurs. Galvanized steel is also rust-resistant and maintains its structural integrity well with proper coating and maintenance. However, if a rusted look is what you desire stylistically for your building, steel is the obvious choice. Check out Bunger Steel’s exclusive Bunger Rust color.
How Does Steel Stand Up To Brick?
While there’s no doubt that brick is a sturdy material, steel is one of the strongest and longest-lasting construction materials you can use. When you’re looking at steel vs. brick, steel holds up very well when it comes to regular wear and tear and also stands up against extreme weather like strong winds, heavy snow, and ice. Steel is also pest and fire-resistant.
Need to move? Steel is not likely to break or warp when it’s being taken down or moved, and can typically be used again in a new location or even recycled. In comparison, brick is pretty much impossible to move without major reconstruction work.
Over time brick can deteriorate or even crumble in the event of an accident or direct impact. Brick can also be susceptible to extreme weather, and in some cases, brick can require regular maintenance. Steel buildings require little to no maintenance and can stand up in the face of bad weather and even regular wear and tear. Choosing steel can save you money over time because you won’t have to spend as much for regular maintenance, repairs and general upkeep.
What About Concrete?
In using concrete for a building, you’ll encounter a number of time-consuming steps, including creating and placing formwork, mixing and pouring concrete, waiting for the curing process to take place, and form removal. While steel buildings do require a concrete foundation, they can be faster to build overall because there are fewer steps involved.
Concrete is an inherently heavy material and its weight should be taken into consideration in the structural engineering of the building. It’s common to see larger structural members such as beams, columns, and footings in a concrete building. When the building is constructed out of steel, those elements will typically be lighter, comparatively smaller, and often less expensive.
Is steel stronger than concrete? Well, consider this: If you’re in an area that is prone to earthquakes, a concrete structure will need to be designed with extra measures in order to stay standing when seismic activity occurs. In contrast, steel buildings can easily be designed to be prepared for the dynamic loading conditions imposed by earthquake activity.
Lastly, it’s common for a significant portion of the steel used in metal buildings to come from recycled materials. And if the service life of the building comes to an end or changes, the steel can be recycled again and used for a new building or other purposes. Concrete, and brick do not typically contain recycled material and are more challenging to recycle after use.
If you’d like to learn more about how to make steel work for your next project, give us a call.