It is obvious over the last few hundred years that steel has become the material of choice for modern buildings. Here are a few of the reasons why.
Steel and galvanized steel are environmentally friendly. Both steel and zinc are almost infinitely recyclable. There’s no change to the chemical or physical properties of the steel base or the hot dipped zinc coating when the steel is properly reclaimed. The American Institute of Steel Construction tells us that structural steel currently being produced in the United States is made from 93 percent recycled steel scrap. And 98 percent of all structural steel in buildings that are torn down at the end of their useful lives is recycled into new steel products, with no loss of strength or durability
Steel is Low-Maintenance
It is easier to maintain and clean a building made of steel than it is to clean a building made of wood or brick. This quality is especially important when structures are built in remote locations.
Steel is Durable
Steel doesn’t rot. And steel that has been treated with hot-dip galvanization, about which we have a lot more to say in a moment, does not rust. Hot dip galvanization can extend the life of steel from 34 to 170 years. Even when hot dip galvanized steel is damaged, it repairs itself by forming a layer of zinc carbonate.
Steel is Strong
The ratio of strength to weight is especially high in steel, compared to other materials. Hot- dip galvanized steel has a maximum yield strength of 450 mPa. Wood might have a maximum yield strength of about 80 mPa. The additional strength of hot-dipped galvanized steel gives designers more freedom because their buildings will need less support. There will be more room for curves, arches, and architectural features of visual interest.
Steel is Pest-Resistant
Termites cause more damage to structures than fire, floods, and storms combined. Termites don’t eat steel.
Steel is Fire-Retardant
Wood frames are among the first materials in a building to catch fire. Fires don’t spread through steel.
Steel is Less Expensive to Insure
Steel stands up better to wind and is resistant to fire. Your insurance costs will be lower if you choose steel over other building materials. The savings will continue over the life of the building.
And the cost of building with steel is comparable to construction costs with other materials in buildings over 1200 to 1500 square feet. It is possible to erect steel buildings, even in the 2020’s, for as little as $40 per square foot.
Steel is a great choice for the frame of a building, and it’s the only choice for most high-rises. But steel frames need to be protected against corrosion with hot-dip galvanization.
To get the full benefits of steel, you need steel that has been treated with hot-dip galvanization. To make hot-dipped galvanized steel, untreated steel is cleaned. Then, it is fluxed to give it better surface contact with the molten zinc in the next step. Steel is immersed in molten zinc to give it a uniform, thin protective coat. That protective coat of zinc becomes a sacrificial metal to protect the steel beneath it from oxidation and corrosion.
But, even the protective coating of hot dipped galvanized steel has its own aesthetic appeal. The protective patina that forms of hot dipped galvanized steel as it is exposed to weather for a year or more offers an attractive, naturally gray finish. And if another color is desired, it is easily painted or powder coated. With the zinc patina on hot dipped galvanized steel as a “primer,” the life of the paint extended by 150 percent or even doubled.
Contact us with your questions about the many benefits of hot-dip galvanization for structural steel or let us submit a bid for your consideration.