Construct This: A Contractor's Blog

Construct This: A Contractor's Blog

How Steel Building Construction Is Different

by Joyce Rivera

Construction for steel buildings, especially industrial ones, can be significantly different from other projects in other settings. Before you start a steel building construction plan, it's wise to review the following differences and account for them.


Especially if the building needs places to hold specialized equipment, fabrication is frequently necessary. This means working with a fabrication shop to create precise designs. Likewise, your construction team will have to assemble the fabricated pieces on-site in most cases.


A notable difference between steel building construction and other processes is welding. You will need qualified professionals to ensure that the welded points provide sufficient structural support. If the job requires joining different metals with the main steel structure, the work may require some complex welds, too.

Strength-to-Weight Ratio

One of the major attractions of steel building construction is the material's high strength-to-weight ratio. You can erect large sections of a building using a handful of pieces. Consequently, steel is popular for open spaces like warehouses and large factories.

Notably, steel keeps most of its strength-to-weight ratio after you shape it. If you need to create a complex design, such as a strong arch or curved wall, steel building construction is ideal.

Limited Fire Resistance

At first, it may seem strange to think of steel as having poor fire resistance. However, compared to a material like concrete, steel isn't the most fire-resistant option. Given the high temperatures at some industrial operations, this means you have to plan the placement of the steel beams relative to the heat sources. You may also need to protect the steel from the heat with concrete casements or fire-resistant insulation.


Steel corrodes, especially when exposed to seawater, coastal air, high humidity, or dust with lots of salt. If you're constructing steel buildings in such environments, you need to model the shorter life of the material. This will allow you to plan to replace sections or even tear the building down and start over at a scheduled time.


Moving large sections of steel to a construction site poses numerous challenges. The weight and length of some beams mean that you might task a single tractor trailer with hauling one beam. You may also need a crane to move large pieces of steel around at the site. It is a heavy material so expect the insurance costs associated with a steel building construction effort to be high. 

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Construct This: A Contractor's Blog

When you want something built, who do you turn to? Okay, maybe you answered that question with a particular person's name, and that's an acceptable answer. But the answer we were really looking for was "construction contractors." This profession is full of people who can build this and that, and who can customize the things they build to meet your unique needs. Working with a construction team is like working with a bunch of people who just want to make you happy. We love that aspect of the industry, and it's something we plan on focusing on more as we write this blog.