10 Uses of Steel in the Construction Industry

Olivia Elsher

Jul 8, 2022


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Steel is a durable and recyclable material perfect for building residential properties. Construction workers use this material in a variety of ways within their industry. Here are some of the common uses of steel in the construction industry. 

1. Structural Sections

Since steel is a strong material, people often use it to create frames for buildings. The frames are part of the structural skeleton forming a solid foundation for the home. They consist of vertical or horizontal beams which are bolted or welded together. 

When designing, engineers must consult the American Institute of Steel Construction (AISC) guidelines. Construction workers use steel frameworks in many different building projects. Using steel is also a more cost-effective and lightweight option for many contractors. 

2.  Reinforcing Bars 

This is one of the most common uses of steel in construction. The steel helps strengthen the concentrate allowing it to better withstand tension. Construction workers use steel because it easily binds with concrete and has similar properties. Reinforced concrete provides a durable foundation making it a popular building material. 

Reinforced bars are hot-rolled from different materials, such as railroad rails. The law requires these bars to have some sort of identification. The American Society for Testing Materials (ASTM) created a standard for identification. This state’s guidelines, like the number must identify the bar size.

Here are some of the common types of reinforced bars used in construction:

  • Carbon Steel: This is the most common type and is very versatile. The one downside is it corrodes more easily than other types. 
  • Welded Wire Fabric: This is made from a series of steel wires electrically welded at each crossing. It is commonly used in road pavements and drainage structures. 
  • Sheet-Metal: Sheet-metal is often used in building stairs or roofs. It consists of bent annealed steel sheets with holes at regular intervals. 
  • Epoxy-Coated: These are more costly and used in properties near saltwater. Since the coating is very delicate you should order it from a reputable source. 
  • European: The material used allows them to bend more easily and is a more cost-effective option. Although, they are not well suited for areas vulnerable to extreme weather. 

3.  Sheet Products

Contractors use sheeting products in structures such as roofing, internal walls, and ceilings. Sheet metal is formed by an industrial process that turns metal, such as steel, into flat pieces. These are then used for many construction purposes, such as internal ducts or roof flashings. 

Engineers use steel due to its durability and malleability. It can also be repaired easily making it perfect for building in areas prone to more extreme weather. 

Here are the other types of sheet products available:

  • Plywood
  • Construction Plywood
  • Particleboard
  • OSB boards
  • MDF sheets

4. Non-Structural Appliances 

Another one of the uses of steel in construction is to create building appliances. Some heating and cooling systems have steel features. Your heat exchanger, refrigerant pipes, and ductwork often contain steel. 

Builders use the material because of its heat-resistant properties, including corrosive and creep resistance. Creep resistance refers to the tendency of the material to deform when exposed to stress. Since steel can withstand high temperatures it’s perfect for furnace conditions reaching over 1100 ℃. 

5. Internal Fixtures 

People also use steel to make interior fixtures, such as rails, stairs and shelving. Since stairs receive lots of foot traffic throughout the day the durable material is key. Steel staircases also give off a more modern and sleek appearance. It’s also a more affordable and eco-friendly option. Another perk for homeowners is it’s long-lasting and easy to maintain. 

The durability is also an important factor for handrails. They need to be able to withstand high amounts of pressure when you lean against them. Plus, outdoor rails also need protection against the elements. 

6. Transportation Networks

Creating transportation structures is one of the critical uses of steel in construction. Steel is used in building bridges, tunnels, rail tracks. It’s also used to construct properties, such as train stations, shipping ports, and airports. Most of this steel utilized is from reinforced bars. The other steel application comes from sections, plates, and rail tracks. 

These transportation buildings are vital to making the construction process more efficient. They also help to limit the number of cars on the road. This makes travel quicker and helps the environment. 

Steel is also used to create vehicles, such as trains, airplanes, and ships. Steel is mainly used for components under the train, such as wheels and axles. It is also used in freight or goods wagons. In planes, steel composes the engines and landing gear. Shipbuilders also employ steel plates to make their ship hulls. 

Steel is a popular building material for these structures because it is durable and safe. The material needs to withstand heavy pressure while transporting supplies and passengers. 

7. Utilities

People can find steel in utilities, such as fuel, water, or power because it makes up some of the pipelines used to carry water and gas. On the other hand, older homes and commercial properties typically have galvanized pipes, which people treat with a zinc coating. One of the main benefits fo galvanized pipes is that they’re long-lasting; they have a life span of about 40 to 50 years. Although, due to the labor and time it takes to cut, thread, and install, construction workers don’t often use them anymore. Other applications include power stations and pumping houses. These mainly utilize reinforced bars. 

8. Architectural Wall Cladding

Architectural cladding is when you apply one material over another, forming a layer of skin. This provides thermal insulation and weather resistance. It can even approve the appearance of your home. Contractors can attach the cladding in a variety of ways.

Here are some of the standard installation methods: 

  • Standing Seam: This is a more well-known system involving folded connections between the panels. The hidden fixed details create a sleek exterior look. 
  • Snaplock: This displays a similar ribbed profile but doesn’t use any closing equipment. Instead, the panels snap together, providing simple insulation. 
  • Interlocking: Interlocking uses express joints to create a smoother appearance. The panels can vary in width and are detailed to run in multiple directions.
  • Flatlock: These boards lock together, forming a flexible and thin exterior. Contractors can even install the system in reverse for deeper express lines. 
  • Cassette: This is a good system for more extensive projects since you can use it with huge panels. The material is bent and fixed using invisible clips and creates a flat look. 

Steel is a durable material to use for this process. Its resilience to water damage and corrosion makes it a popular cladding option. The material is also easy to install and maintain. Another advantage for homeowners is steel comes in a wide variety of styles and finishes. This way, you can find one that matches your house’s design. 

9. Wall Support Products 

You can find steel in many wall support products, such as brackets and mounting plates. Stainless steel brackets can help hold items, such as photographs, in place. Their strong material provides the perfect support for heavy shelving. The steel is also easy to clean and water-resistant. 

10. Kitchen Appliances

Many kitchen appliances, such as washers and refrigerators, contain some steel. In fact, 75% of the weight of typical household appliances comes from steel. Stainless steel products don’t corrode or rust, making them last longer. They also provide your home with a more sophisticated look. With the popularity of these appliances, buying them can even increase your home’s value. 

Common Uses of Steel in Construction

Steel is utilized in the constitution industry because it’s a durable and eco-friendly material. Because of its versatility, you can find it in various building projects. The next time you perform a home renovation, consider the different uses of steel in the construction process. 

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