If we just look at the architecture of some random big city, we can see how many changes have taken place in the world of building elements over time. From basic raw materials, such as wood, mud, and stone, over concrete, to metals and alloys of a small relative weight – we came a long way.
The question arises, which material is better for commercial buildings, concrete or steel. Which one is more long-lasting, durable and easier to maintain, but also which is more cost-effective?
Prices of construction materials vary and depend on many factors. The value of steel over the years is much more susceptible to changes than the price of concrete. Due to turbulent movements in world markets, but also because of the reduction of reserves of raw materials for the production of metal structures, the prices of metal elements could grow in the future. On the other hand, the cost of concrete as a mixture is relatively stable.
The price shouldn’t be a key factor. Steel elements are more expensive s the initial investment. But it can pay off because this material can be recycled. Also, concrete is much more demanding to work with. You need all those building machines for mixing, transporting, spilling, handling, etc. It’s much easier to work with metal.
The mixture from which the concrete is made (cement, water, stone/sand) keeps moisture, so it is not a good insulator. Also, the metal is a conductor, so in both cases additional protection and insulation from the electricity are necessary.
Both steel and concrete are persistent on winds, storms, and earthquakes. Still, it seems that concrete can withstand stronger winds and earthquakes because of the higher density and mass. But it needs armature. The steel has better ductility – the flexibility when some force affects it (learn more about this property of building materials here). But this feature makes it unstable.
As for resistance to high temperatures, the slight advantage is on the side of the concrete. Additionally, new technologies have brought some new super-alloys, with improved properties. For example, today we can find high-temperature resistant steel.
But the defect of every metal is fast warming. In case of a fire, the temperature in the steel building temperature is rapidly increasing. The metal object acts like one large oven. Concrete is heating and cooling much slower. That’s the reason why it’s always warmer in concrete buildings than in metal ones, even without thermal insulation.
Size and Design of the Building
Due to the small weight, but also the ease and speed of work with the steel, this material wins when it comes to the design segment. Concrete is the first choice when it comes to multi-floored commercial objects. But we can achieve the same stability with metal construction too.
The concrete building can be made as fast as the metal one. But the significant difference is that the steel doesn’t have to thick. This property of concrete significantly extends the working time, but also the expenses.
Concrete has a lesser aesthetic value than steel. Skilled contractors can build everything you can imagine, but it takes a lot of time and money. Steel is much easier to handle; it is more flexible than concrete, and the buildings made of it look modern and elegant.
Factor of Environmental Impact
We have already mentioned the possibility of recycling steel. Today, the metal elements we use in the construction industry are mostly made of pre-recycled steel. Due to the ease of working with this material, the energy consumption is low. The only problem can be the transport of steel, if we’re like ‘I’m not pleased with metal building repair near me,’ and we decide on getting it from another city or state.
Sustainability of building materials has become one of the main factors for its use in commercial buildings. Concrete is an environmentally friendly material with low pollution degree. However, the problem arises in the process of working with it. Because of all the machines, the energy consumption is large. And that’s not an eco-friendly feature.
Generally, it seems that steel has better properties as a building material. However, concrete still holds the leading position in the construction. But to be sure, ask for the professional advice about building materials after explaining your requirements and possibilities.