A GUIDE TO STEEL BUILDINGS
Steel buildings have been used in the commercial and industrial industries for decades. In fact, since Sir Henry Bessemer invented the first process for inexpensively mass producing steel in 1855 the metal has been an integral part of construction; from bridges, and pipelines to skyscrapers, office buildings and even residential buildings.
The strength of metals in construction has been recognized for many years and in the 1700's iron columns were used to reduce the number of internal load-bearing walls. The 19 th century saw the beginning of clear-span construction with the use of iron columns and beams, which was first used in textile mills. More floor space and a reduced risk of fire made this design popular for many other buildings throughout the century.
In the 1990's environmental issues caused the logging industry to slow down as loggers were banned from many old growth forests and, as a result, lumbar and other wood prices went up. Steel became a cost effective, environmentally-friendly alternative for many building applications from commercial to residential. In fact, this period saw a steady rise in the number of houses built with steel framing. Aside from saving the trees, steel buildings have many other advantages. Steel is 66percent recyclable and almost two thirds of all steel in use in the US is from recycled stock.
Strength is a major selling point for steel buildings. They are able to withstand harsh conditions such as high winds, hurricanes, earthquakes and heavy snow. Durability is another characteristic of steel that has attracted attention as it significantly reduces problems with termites, cracks, creeping, rotting, splitting, and warping. This means steel buildings retain their structural integrity for years with little maintenance. Steel framed buildings, such as houses, may still be more expensive than lumbar but there are many other advantages that are beginning to attract more and more buyers. Steel arch buildings used mainly in agriculture and storage, on the other hand, can be much cheaper.
Metal buildings have become a common sight across America with steel garages, barns, airplane hangars and storage facilities all taking full advantage of the cheap, easy and quick construction of prefabricated steel buildings. The promise of less time spent building, lower labor costs and less maintenance are particularly attractive to expanding businesses. This combined with the strength, durability and flexibility of steel make it a winning combination for hundreds of applications.