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When designing a scheme, I often get asked by the owner: “Which structure is better for my project? Concrete structure or steel structure?” Or: “Which one is better, steel structure VS concrete structure?” “Which is more economical ?”
Let’s first look at the characteristics of these two structures. The concrete structure is composed of steel bars and concrete. It has the features of self-heavy weight, strong integrity, resistance to superficial erosion, good airtightness. But a long construction period. The steel structure is formed by connecting steel components. It has lightweight, good elasticity but weak integrity, poor fire resistance and corrosion resistance, and poor airtightness, but the construction period is relatively short.
Steel structure VS concrete structure
The concrete structure is suitable for multi-high-rise buildings with large loads and more columns (such as multi-story office buildings, dormitories, etc.) and buildings with high requirements for fire prevention, corrosion resistance, or airtightness (such as chemical, biomedical projects). On the other hand, the steel structure is more suitable for large-span single-story buildings (single-story factory buildings, logistics warehouses, etc.) with smaller loads and facilities with relatively low requirements for fire protection, corrosion resistance, or airtightness.
The lower floors are used for production in a multi-story factory building, so the floor load is heavier. The top floor is used as a warehouse, which requires more turnover and large-span space. At this time, we often design the building as a multi-layer concrete frame in the lower part, with columns on the top layer and large-span roof steel beams to maximize the actual needs of the owners.
Compared with steel structure buildings and reinforced concrete structures, steel structure engineering buildings have apparent advantages such as energy-saving and environmental protection, high strength, good seismic performance, fast construction speed, suitable for factory production, and sustainable development. Good fire resistance, good thermal insulation effect.
Material characteristics: Steel Structure VS Concrete
The steel structure is a spatial structure mainly composed of steel as raw materials and is one of the main structural types of modern buildings. The steel structure is mainly composed of steel beams, steel columns, steel trusses, and other components made of section steel and steel plates as raw materials. Welding, bolts, or rivets usually connect the components or parts. Because of its lightweight and quick and easy construction, it is widely used in large-scale factories, gymnasiums, farmer’s markets, warehouses, and other fields, but its fire resistance is poor.
A concrete structure is mainly made of concrete, including plain concrete structure, reinforced concrete structure, prestressed concrete structure, etc. The advantages of concrete structure are embodied in the following aspects: good integrity can be poured into a whole; can be poured into structures of various shapes and sizes; good durability and fire resistance; low engineering cost and maintenance cost.
The structure form is determined by the construction period:
A multi-story office building does not have a large span or a large cantilever. Under normal circumstances, we would prefer a concrete frame structure. But the owner is eager to put it into use, hoping to shorten the construction period. Then we would recommend changing the primary system to a steel frame structure. During the foundation excavation, pouring, and maintenance stages, many steel components can be made in the processing plant simultaneously, thus significantly shortening the construction period.
Misunderstandings about steel structure
Steel structures are ubiquitous these days, and steel structures are an extremely durable building material with outstanding benefits that make them very popular in modern architecture. But there are still many misconceptions about steel and its function in buildings. The following are some common misunderstandings about steel structure buildings. Do you also have such misunderstandings about steel structure buildings?
- Steel framing will rust: Construction steel is often dipped in a protective coating to protect the material from rust and corrosion. Most construction steels come with at least a 50-year warranty, ensuring that buildings don’t need attention for half a century. The current anti-corrosion skills are very mature, and there is no need to worry about this problem.
- Steel structures can interfere with TV, radio, and Wi-Fi reception: Most of us rely on cell phones and wireless internet for our daily lives, and many still use antennas to listen to radio and TV—if steel interferes with these signals, then no People will use its modern architecture. Radio waves can pass through the spaces between the studs in the steel frame, allowing signals to pass through as easily as a wooden frame.
- Steel framing is dangerous in thunderstorms: We all know that metal conducts electricity. It is likely the origin of the idea that steel framing is dangerous and even attracts lightning. However, it is actually safer to live in a steel frame during a thunderstorm. It is because steel conducts the lightning’s energy underground, safely dispersing it before harming anyone.
- Steel expands and contracts more quickly than other building materials: All building materials expand and contract with heat, which is why architects and engineers design products around this inevitability. Steel has far less thermal movement than other building materials, so it’s easy to keep your building from cracking.
- Steel frames are noisy: If your building is structurally sound, steel frames are quieter than wood-frame buildings of the same size and design.
- Steel buildings are unattractive: Steel buildings can be customized both externally and internally to suit every look and shape you want. Most people think that steel structure buildings are ugly because they only think of industrial facilities, and the appearance of industrial buildings is often more economical and practical. Owners generally do not carry out modeling decoration to save unnecessary expenses. You may have seen many steel buildings without realizing that they are steel buildings. Many of the current subway stations, large shopping malls, and tourist attractions thanks steel structures.
- Steel is dangerous when it touches live wires: Most steel buildings are equipped with circuit breakers to ensure the safety of their occupants. If the live wire somehow connects the frame, the circuit breaker will trip, preventing injury.
- Steel structure buildings have low thermal conductivity: This is one of the biggest misconceptions about steel structure buildings. Many people associate metal with the cold, but steel buildings prevent heat transfer, especially when built with metal roofs.
Perhaps these misunderstandings have always existed in people’s hearts. Still, the advantages of steel structure buildings are becoming more and more prominent, and people feel its benefits, and the misunderstandings about steel structure buildings will gradually disappear. Steel structure buildings are the future development trend, which will not change.