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Three Situations In Which Concrete Construction May Be Better Than Steel

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For buildings less 50,000 square feet, steel construction costs tend to be lower than those for concrete. However, concrete does have its advantages, and there are situations in which it becomes more suitable than steel. Such situations may be dictated by:

Location

The local authorities will always have a say on building materials, which is why location may force you to use concrete instead of steel. For example, local fire codes may preclude the construction of a steel building because the material is not as fire resistance as concrete.

This may be surprising since steel is a tough and noncombustible, but it is not the combustion that the authorities worry about. When a steel wall is heated to high temperatures, it may:

  • Distort
  • Transfer heat to the other side
  • Experience reduced structural strength

Concrete walls don't have these problems, and even the fire-retardant measures (such as the use of sprays) taken by steel building constructors may not bring steel to the fire-resistant level of concrete.

Generally, the nearer you are to an urban center, the higher the chances that you will face strict fire codes. This is because fire outbreaks are common in crowded areas, and urban centers tend to be more crowded than rural.

Use

Apart from location, the intended use of a building may also favor concrete than steel. Situations that favor concrete over steel include:

  • High traffic such as those found in schools, restaurants, medical and retail centers.
  • Resistance to physical damage. For example, when a forklift hits a concrete wall, it causes a localized damage that is not difficult to repair. A comparable damage on a steel wall may be transferred to the other parts of the house and necessitate extensive repair.
  • Buildings that require a higher level of physical security such as prisons. This is because steel is more penetrable than concrete.

Durability and Maintenance

Lastly, you are also better off with a concrete material if you want your building to last a long time with minimal maintenance. For example, steel is prone to corrosion and do not stand up well to natural disasters such as earthquakes. Even the insurance industry has taken note of this fact and offers relatively lower premiums for concrete buildings.

This doesn't mean that steel doesn't have a place in the construction industry; it does have its advantages too. However, there are situations where it doesn't fit. If you wish to enjoy the advantages of both construction materials, talk to your contractor (such as Superior Buildings & Design Ltd) about reinforcing your concrete building with steel.

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