Concrete VS Steel

Concrete VS Steel:Concrete has a much longer history as a building material than steel and is a trusted building material. From 1850 onwards, when the process of manufacturing steel was solved and mass production was possible, both steel and concrete were used extensively in the construction industry as the main structural material.

Steel buildings-concrete frame vs steel frame

So, is the project in concrete or steel?

Steel has one of the highest strength-to-weight ratios of any building material, and it takes much less material to build the same size building area than concrete, and less material means lower construction costs. Metal buildings are an extremely investable type of building in terms of both short term costs and long term operating costs.

Overall, a comprehensive understanding of which building materials are more suitable for your current project requires an understanding of their combination of input, durability, fire resistance, sustainability and operating costs.For example our metal warehouse kit


1. Input cost

Steel buildings: steel buildings are more recyclable due to the fact that the steel materials we currently use are made from renewable rigid, which will reduce the construction costs of steel materials compared to other materials, and although the price of steel materials has been fluctuating, steel is still an investable building material. All the elements of the steel frame are prefabricated in the factory and installed at destination, saving a great deal of construction time and cost. And there is virtually no maintenance required at a later stage. In terms of life-cycle costs, it is an extremely investable building type.

Concrete buildings: Concrete is a common building material and its price is generally stable. However, concrete buildings require a great deal of construction time and materials in the early stages of construction and require a great deal of maintenance in the later stages. This means that the cost of concrete continues to increase throughout its life cycle.

Steel buildings-concrete block vs steel building cost

2. Sturdiness

Steel buildings: Structural steel has good robustness, both in terms of toughness, ductility and shear resistance, and is currently the most suitable building material for industry, commerce and agriculture.

Concrete buildings: The main building material used in concrete construction is a composite material, consisting of sand, gravel, cement and water, which has a high compressive strength but lacks toughness and shear resistance. The result is that our type of construction is susceptible to damage in hurricanes and strong earthquakes. It is therefore necessary to add materials such as steel reinforcement to the building process to increase the overall toughness and resistance to shear.

3. Durability

Steel buildings:  Structural steel is made of steel because all the materials are used and all the steel is exposed. In order to cope with the corrosion caused by the environment, it is externally coated and treated with paints, powder coatings, sacrificial layers and corrosion inhibiting chemical coatings to limit corrosion steel damage. And, when the corrosion of a component is severe, it can simply be replaced.

Concrete construction: Concrete construction uses concrete as the main building material, wrapped in steel reinforcement. However, there is a fatal weakness in that the reinforcement used to strengthen the concrete building can, over time, cause the steel to rust and produce iron oxide, which can expand and cause unsafe elements in the concrete building. These factors are not easily repaired.

4. Fire resistance

Steel buildings: Structural steel is less resistant to fire and generally loses its strength at over 550°F. Professional steel fabricators will take this into account when constructing steel buildings. The application of fire protection coatings to the surface of the steel structure creates a protective layer of fire resistance insulation and increases the fire resistance limit of the steel elements. Depending on the specified fire resistance requirements, we will carry out two types of coatings that can be sprayed: thin fireproofing coatings and thick fireproofing coatings. And for the fire resistance limit requirements are relatively high for the high-rise steel structure can be sprayed inorganic fibre fire protection sheathing material, this fire-resistant coating can effectively enhance the steel structure building fire resistance time, time up to 5 hours. It gives us plenty of time to put out the fire. It is also equipped with cooling systems, concrete shells and active measures to protect steel buildings.

Concrete buildings: Compared to metal buildings, concrete buildings have a much higher fire resistance. This is because reinforced concrete is inert and has a very low thermal conductivity and a fire resistance temperature of 800°F to 1,200°F. All this makes concrete buildings extremely fire resistant.

5. Operating cost

Steel buildings: structural steel, due to its excellent performance, does not require alignment for maintenance at a later stage, the only maintenance factor that needs to be considered is its corrosion. The only maintenance factor that needs to be considered is its corrosion. We dislike the corrosion-resistant coating of all components at the beginning of the construction of the steel building, which greatly reduces its corrosion risk. At the same time, we also take out insurance against unknown factors. It is better to take precautions than to be afraid.

Concrete buildings: Concrete buildings are subject to a range of other risk factors such as cracking of the walls at a later stage due to various natural factors, which require special maintenance. This is a significant cost. Also due to the risky nature of this type of building, many insurance companies do not insure this type of building, which increases our risk.

6. Sustainability

Steel buildings: steel is a completely 100% recyclable material and 90% of steel buildings manufactured today are made of steel. This means that after our steel-junction buildings are checked, the materials can still be largely reused, reducing the pollution of the environment.

Concrete buildings: All concrete building materials are environmentally friendly, so when some concrete building waste is produced it can be reused as concrete building materials or used for paving, landscaping and other construction. The impact on the environment is not too great.

7. Flexibility

Steel construction: structural steel is much more ductile and machinable due to its high strength-to-weight ratio. As a result, steel buildings are much more customisable and therefore have a higher aesthetic performance. This is something that concrete buildings cannot meet and is therefore the ideal type of building for customisation.

Concrete buildings: Although concrete buildings can also be designed in different styles of construction, their toughness does not allow them to meet specific customisation requirements, such as large-span construction. This type of building is often used to build large stadiums, waiting halls, logistics warehouses and other facilities.

Metal buildings - concrete vs steel building

In summary, we need to consider a number of factors when we start working on a building. If you are unsure which of steel or concrete to choose as your building material, then please contact KAFA Steel Structures and we can advise you on the best way to build.

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