What You Need to Know About Steel Frame Buildings


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Updated 15/10/2023

Steel frame buildings are becoming more popular in commercial and industrial construction projects. These structures can range from warehouses and churches, and more. Steel buildings bring some advantages not found with traditional brick-and-mortar structures.

Before investing in a steel structure, it’s essential to understand something about its features, including strength, durability, cost efficiency, and more.

In this article, we’ll go through what you need to know about steel frame buildings. Let’s get started!


What are Steel Frame Buildings?

Steel frame buildings are metal structures that consist of horizontal beams and vertical columns that are welded together in a rectangular grid to support floors, walls, and roofs of the buildings.

Steel frame structures are used to form the skeletal frame that supports the building constructed around the frame.


Understanding Steel Frame Construction

A steel frame structure can be used in any of the following applications:

  • High rise buildings
  • Industrial buildings
  • Warehouses
  • Residential buildings

There are three primary types of steel frame construction:


Light Gauge Steel

This type of steel construction uses light gauge steel products rather than timber studs. The steel is a thin sheet (usually between 1-3mm) of steel that’s bent into the form of C-sections or Z-sections. Light gauge steel is commonly used for the construction of residential and small buildings.

The benefits of light gauge steel construction include:

  • Design flexibility
  • Fast speed of construction
  • Strong
  • Lightweight
  • Easy to remodel
  • Recyclable
  • High quality (durable and low maintenance)


Bolted Steel

Bolted steel has all components fabricated off-site and bolted in place when on-site. The size of steel structural members is controlled by the size of the truck or trailer used to deliver the steel elements. In many cases, the maximum length of 6m is OK for a normal truck. On the other hand, 12m is more appropriate for a longer trailer.

Bolted steel construction is extremely fast due to lifting the steel members into place and bolting. All the construction is done on-site. It’s considered to be the most preferred construction method due to most of the fabrication being done off-site.


Steel Fabrication

All steel products are fabricated off-site, cut, drilled, and welded together. Steel members must be cut to the correct length and then welded together to build the final structure.

This construction process may be done entirely on-site, which requires a large amount of manpower. On the other hand, for the best results, it can be done partially in a workshop to provide better working conditions and reduce work time.


Benefits of a Steel Frame Building

Steel frame buildings are popular across the UK. Many people understand the benefits offered by structural steel and use it as a construction material.

Here are some of the advantages offered by a steel frame building:


1. Steel is a Robust Alloy

Steel is significantly stronger and tougher than most other building materials. These qualities make steel an ideal material for the skeletal frame of buildings that must be durable and impervious to damage over time.


2. Steel Frame Buildings are Structurally Sound

Steel can withstand many types of stresses and pressures. Whether the stress and pressure are from excessive use by humans or due to external environmental conditions, structural steel remains strong. It can never be compromised when it comes to structural integrity. It is much less permeable than other materials, such as concrete or timber.


3. Steel Buildings are Weather Resistant

There’s no question that steel buildings are exposed to a wide range of weather conditions throughout their useful lives. Structural steel frame buildings can withstand humidity, snowfall, rain, storms, and other harsh climatic conditions without breaking. Steel is highly resistant and can bend without cracking. It can take an unnaturally large load for it to bend.

To make structural steel beams even stronger, you can apply corrosion-protective coatings of zinc or primers, which also help enhance the metal’s lifespan.


4. Steel Frame Buildings are Self-Supporting

Steel’s strength-to-weight ratio is high, which means it’s excellent at supporting its own weight. When managed by professional structural fabricators, steel frames don’t require pillars, columns, or beams to support them. This makes the material ideal for buildings that have large, open interiors.


5. They Last an Incredibly Long Time

Steel buildings are strong and durable; they can last decades longer than other types of buildings and hold their value better.

When it comes to strength, they significantly outperform other buildings.


6. Steel is Reusable & Eco-Friendly

Structural steel can be used multiple times without losing its strength, durability, or malleability. The properties of steel never change over time, even after being recycled many times.

In addition, steel is resistant to corrosion, rust, and oxidation. This material will not deteriorate.

Structural steel I beams, columns, and plates are some of the most recycled products in the world. Therefore, using them drastically reduces the materials’ environmental impact.


7. Cost Efficiency

In most cases, a steel building can be completed in about half the time it takes to build a brick-and-mortar building. Faster construction means a reduction in labour and energy costs. The buildings are also easier to expand or relocate, if necessary. So, it’s not expensive or time-consuming to make major renovations in the future.

These factors make steel structures more affordable in the long run, and the buildings can be a better improvement in the long run.


8. Flexibility

Steel buildings offer you more freedom when it comes to design features, such as the placement of windows, ceiling height, interior walls, and more. Steel allows you to customise a space according to your requirements. It’s also possible to upgrade the steel building with insulation, fire protection systems, and other features to ensure the structure is safe and efficient.

In addition, steel buildings can be used as residential units, storage spaces, workshops, and more. And they can be constructed in a wider variety of sizes and shapes to fit your precise needs.


Summing It Up

When you understand all the many benefits steel structures have to offer, you can make an informed decision on whether such a building is the right choice for your project.

Steel buildings offer an efficient, cost-effective solution that’s strong, durable, and lasts much longer than brick-and-mortar buildings. Steel can be a great choice, no matter what type of building you require.


Are steel frame buildings more expensive than traditional construction?

Steel frame buildings can be cost-effective due to their shorter construction time and energy efficiency. While the initial investment may be slightly higher, the long-term benefits often outweigh the costs.

Do steel frame buildings require more maintenance?

Steel frame buildings are low-maintenance. Regular inspections and preventive measures can keep them in excellent condition for decades.

Can steel frame buildings be customised to suit specific architectural designs?

Yes, steel frame buildings offer incredible design flexibility, allowing for customised architectural designs.

Are steel frame buildings environmentally friendly?

Absolutely. Steel is a recyclable material, and steel frame buildings are energy-efficient, making them an eco-friendly choice.

What is the typical lifespan of a steel frame building?

With proper maintenance, steel frame buildings can last for over 50 years, making them a durable and long-lasting choice.

Are there any limitations to using steel frame buildings?

Steel frame buildings may not be ideal for applications requiring very high insulation or extreme temperature control due to the material’s thermal conductivity.


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