13 Jun 10 Common Uses of Structural Steel in UK Construction Projects
Structural steel is the basis of many modern construction projects. Across the UK, often the first hint of a building’s shape and size comes from the structural steelwork that appears on the horizon. The popular use of steel in construction can be put down to its strength, durability and versatility.
Because it can be used again and again, structural steel is also one of the most sustainable of building materials. Structural steel is produced with set cross-sections and shapes and has specified strength and chemical component values. The term ‘structural steel’ is used to describe a variety of manganese and low carbon steels. We look at 10 common uses of structural steel in UK construction projects.
Structural steel already dominates the market for long span bridges and is now also becoming more popular for shorter span highway bridges. Steel in construction has an exceptional strength to weight ratio and provides the strength and durability required to cope with years of traffic. For the same load-carrying ability steel is lighter than concrete, it is also a more sustainable solution as it lasts longer and can be recycled. Short span steel bridges can often be assembled by local crews and their close tolerances mean that erection times can be cut thus saving money. Steel can also be a tactful and beautiful addition to a site as it allows for an element of creativity that other materials might not.
Multi-Storey Car Parks
The advantages to structural steel in multi-storey car parks are multiple. Low construction and assembly costs, high strength and long-term durability are all important factors to be considered as is the fact that structural steelwork’s reduced assembly times can serve to limit disruption on what are often busy and restricted urban sites.
The installation of a mezzanine between storeys in an industrial or commercial building can add significant space without necessitating a move to another site. These spaces need not be limited to storage, much-needed office space or conference rooms can also be quickly and easily added. Structural steel is the ideal material for mezzanine floors because it can be constructed off-site and assembled quickly without causing significant interruption to business.
Large Building Construction
Whilst many high-rise buildings are constructed from a combination of reinforced steel and concrete, taller skyscrapers (i.e. those over 150 metres) are usually constructed from an entirely structural steel frame. The low weight and high strength of structural steelwork makes it the ideal material for large and high-rise building construction. Even the largest of buildings can be fabricated quickly from structural steel with beams, columns, girders, sections, struts and bars all being indispensible steel products. Steel components used in building have the ability to absorb shocks, making them perfect for warehouses and other large buildings.
Residential Building Construction
Whilst residential buildings are generally smaller than their industrial counterparts, they can still benefit from structural steel construction and many projects are moving in that direction. Structural steel is particularly useful in residential buildings when it is used as a replacement for 2×4 wood. Steel replacements can be used as a frame in the same traditional way as wood but will last longer and provide more strength. Single dwelling residential buildings can benefit from steel in their construction as much as multi-unit residential buildings.
Building extensions, especially those designed for the home are, by their very nature, often bespoke and uniquely shaped. Structural steel is a great material for building extensions as it is cost-effective and offers a flexible and speedy solution in what can often be limited space. Structural steel also offers potential for unique and creative extension solutions as it can be fitted into most spaces and shapes.
Art and Architecture
Simple building requirements are not the only use of structural steel in construction. In architecture, structural steel building strength and beauty can be articulated through architecturally exposed structural steel (AESS). Exposed steel can add an element of the iconic to a building and, through its flexibility of form, colour and finish can give the architect opportunity for expression and creativity. The same applies to structural steel when used in art installations particularly sculpture.
Structural steel panels and beams can be used to statement effect in modern garden design. Steels walls offer an attractive and sturdy alternative to wooden fence panels and steel beams make stylish walkways, arbors and garden dividers.
Staircases constructed using elements of structural steelwork can be both decorative and durable. The required steels will be fabricated off site to specific specifications and assembled quickly on site with minimum disruption. Structural steel offers design flexibility, which gives it the edge when it comes to fitting a staircase to the sometimes-awkward shapes of existing buildings.
The ease and speed with which structural steel can be erected, taken down and reused makes it an excellent choice for temporary structures. This is particularly true because structural steel constructions can be bolted rather than welded or riveted together.
There can be no doubts about the strength, durability and flexibility of use of structural steel. At Blackburn Ltd we are happy to take on large or small projects and our staff are experienced at providing solutions to the most complex of metalwork problems and requirements. Get in touch today to find out more about our metal fabrication services and how we can help you with your structural requirements.