Steel is an important part of most construction. There are many reasons for this, and some of them may be surprising. It is an affordable material where other products may not be. It is also very durable. All of these are important to any type of construction.
If you have ever watched someone building a cinder block wall, you may have noticed the rebar going through the holes. This steel is to prevent the wall from collapsing and possibly causing an injury. Other things could be used, but steel is preferred.
Steel is important in earthquake country. Unreinforced masonry is very dangerous. Many people were killed by falling bricks or other masonry before laws were put into place causing the owners to use steel to reinforce them.
The same thing happened with many bridges. After the Northridge Earthquake in 1994, a lot of freeway overpasses fell. Now they have all been reinforced with steel. It is hoped that this steel will prevent collapse in future earthquakes.
Some areas are prone to tornados and/or hurricanes. Many of the products that help to strengthen a home or business against these deadly winds use steel. Steel front doors are recommended by FEMA, as are several other products that use steel.
One product, called Cable-tite, is unique in this respect. They use steel in their patent pending product that helps to anchor a building to prevent a tornado from picking it up off the ground. These are easy to install during construction, but difficult in a home already built.
As the climate warms, many areas are becoming prone to fires. In the western part of the U.S. there are brush and forest fires. In the Midwest there are grass fires and the East Coast has its own share of forest fires.
Steel is fire resistant. It is less likely to burn than other building materials. It is also not an organic product. Wood, particle board, sheet rock and plywood all are susceptible to termites, rot and other problems that steel doesn’t have to cope with.
The question that comes up about steel the most often is whether or not it is environmentally friendly. Compared to other building materials, steel is probably the most environmentally friendly building material.
First of all, it is designed to last a long time. Some companies offer a fifty year warranty on the steel used in construction. Most homes get twenty five years at best. That means it doesn’t have to be replaced as soon as other products.
Second, steel is the most recyclable material to use in building. All of it can be recycled, where wood or stone may not be. Bricks are less likely to be fully recyclable. Steel can.
Third, steel requires less maintenance than other materials. Think of the wood door frames with their hinges and knobs. They get wiggly as the holes get larger. They have to be reset on a fairly regular basis. A steel door and frame doesn’t have that problem.
There are many reasons for using steel in construction and very few things that go against it.