Advantages and Disadvantages of Steel

Did you know that the United States consumes approximately 110 million tons of steel each year? More than 40 million tons are used in the construction industry. So we need to know about the Advantages and Disadvantages of Steel.

Steel is one of the most widely used materials, and it is in high demand. Its popularity has grown gradually in the last few decades. Its several advantages over competing alternatives are the prime reasons that make it a highly demanded material.

It is the most widely used engineering and building material on the planet. It can be found in cars and construction, refrigerators and washing machines, cargo ships, and surgical scalpels, among other places.

Before proceeding further, let’s have a look at what steel is.

Steel is an iron-carbon alloy with less than 2% carbon and 1% manganese and trace amounts of silicon, phosphorus, sulfur, and oxygen.

Among various niches, steel is highly used in structural designs. However, many of you don’t know the unmatched traits of steel that make it the prime option for construction.

Advantages and Disadvantages of Steel:

High strength/weight ratio:

The strength-to-weight ratio of steel is very high. As a result, steel buildings have a low dead weight. Steel is a very desirable structural material for

  • High-rise buildings
  • Long-span bridges because of this feature
  • Structures on soft ground
  • Structures in seismically active areas, where the forces exerted on the structure as a result of an earthquake are proportionate to the weight.


Steel can withstand harsh weather conditions and can confront adverse situations before failing, giving it a lot of reserve strength. Ductility is the term for this feature. Steel buildings with proper design have a high ductility, which is crucial for resisting shock loads from blasts or earthquakes.

A ductile construction can absorb energy and will not fail quickly. Before failure or collapse, it frequently exhibits substantial apparent deflections.

Predictable Material Properties:

Steel properties can be anticipated with a high degree of accuracy. Steel does, in fact, exhibit elastomeric behavior up to a relatively high and well-defined stress level. In addition, unlike reinforced concrete, steel characteristics do not vary significantly over time.

Speed of Erection:

Steel structures can be erected in a short amount of time. This usually leads to a faster economic reward. Commonly it takes 3-4 days to erect a standard metal building. The reason behind quick erection is that steel buildings are delivered at your doorstep in prefabricated components. Hence it only needs onsite assembly, which is quick, time-saving, and cost-effective.

So, you don’t need to wait for months; instead, your shelter can be ready for use within a few days.

Quality of Construction:

When it comes to steel, it only delivers top quality. Steel buildings can be constructed with fine craftsmanship and tight tolerances. During installation, no onsite punching, welding, or cutting is done, which ensures the quality of the building remains the same.

Even after decades, you can retain the quality of construction with regular maintenance and inspection.

Ease of Repair:

Steel structures installed with vertical roof style encourage quick runoff of water, debris, and snow. Hence, your structure doesn’t face a high snow load. Even if you own a regular or boxed-eave roof style, the building can be repaired quickly and easily.

Buying a vertical roof steel structure ensures top-level strength and longevity, which isn’t available in other construction materials.

FACT: Where conventional wood roofs only last about 15 to 20 years, steel roofs can last for over a half-century.

Adaptation of Prefabrication:

Steel is highly suitable for prefabrication and mass production. They are manufactured in prefabricated components at the manufacturing unit. Hence, they don’t require excessive time and effort for construction.

Today’s technology also has blessed business owners to use machines for the prefabrication of steel.

Eco-friendly & Recyclable:

Steel can be recycled after a structure is disassembled. It is one of the alloys which doesn’t leave toxic wastes during construction. Moreover, it can be reused after the demolition of old structures.

FACT: Nowadays, more than 80% of steel is recycled, which supports a green environment.

Expanding Existing Structures:

More often, structure owners plan to expand their structures in the future. Steel is a perfect construction material to expand an existing structure. Buildings made of steel can be easily enlarged by adding new lean-to sheds. Bridges made of steel can be enlarged in the future without compromising their strength and durability.

So, these are the attributes of steel that make it the perfect selection for various purposes, including the construction of big buildings. However, this doesn’t mean it is free from cons. There are a few disadvantages as well, which you must know.

Initial Cost:

If you compare steel items with other alternatives, their initial cost might be higher. However, if you calculate the overall cost (including maintenance cost, initial buying cost, repairs, etc.), steel items will always be the winner.

Regardless of the high initial cost, it can serve you for decades, an incomparable trait of steel.


When steel is heated to temperatures seen in building fires, its strength is significantly diminished. Steel also conducts and transmits heat from a burning part of the structure quickly. As a result, steel frames in structures must be adequately fireproofed.


Bridges and other steel structures exposed to air and water are prone to corrosion and should be painted regularly. Weather and corrosion-resistant steel is used to solve the problem.

Commonly steel used for clear span buildings or bridges are 100% galvanized that makes them corrosion resistant. However, wear and tear can peel off the galvanized layer and can expose the structure to moisture.

Susceptibility to Buckling:

Steel compression members are generally thinner and more prone to buckling than reinforced concrete compression members due to their high strength/weight ratio.

So, these are the disadvantages of steel. However, if you compare steel with wood or other construction alternatives, you will always find it a better option to choose.

As the best construction material, steel is in huge demand. That’s the reason homeowners, farmers, ranchers, business owners, and numerous other people opt for steel over wood.

The final selection always depends upon your usage, budget, and future plans.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here