Steel framing is incorporated into almost every commercial or industrial structure due to the inherent benefits of steel in such projects.
Using steel members, building engineers are able to span large distances between perimeter walls, minimising columns within the floor area of a building.
Steel framework can be manufactured offsite and transported to site to suit project timing and schedules. This makes it an efficient solution in respect to project scheduling for time.
Steel framed buildings do have some important limitations which are worth considering in planning your next commercial or industrial project.
The building code limits the use of steel in building in respect of certain size and height buildings.
Without those building employing additional fire safety and/or protection measures such as sprinklers or fire rated claddings or linings to affected members.
Such measures can add significant cost the building in lieu of using other elements, such as:
– tilt up or concrete wall panels;
– suspended floor slabs;
– beams to achieve the required support; or
– structural functions and construction code
Steel is a good heat conductor, depending on the type of member level of exposure and intensity of the heat source.
Steel readily conducts heat and depending on the type of member anbd level of exposure ad intensity of the heat it is subject to, it can lose strength rapidly when exposed to a heat source or fire.
Due to its conductive nature, it can also heat energy away from the point of exposure which can contribute to fire spread or weakening of other structural elements.
Steel can begin to lose strength from around 400 degrees Celcius, and continues to weaken through to its ultimate point of having no structure strength at around 1100 degrees Celcius.
It is important to note, a steel structure may succumb to collapse well ahead of the steel losing all strength. As generally a loss of strength capacity, of only a moderate percentage would be sufficient to cause a part of the building to collapse.
This may in turn affect other parts by surcharge loading and/or spread of heat or flame to those areas.
Steel structures can be fire rated by way of applied intumescent coatings, lining or other means however, depending on the construction method of the remainder of the project this can works out to be more expensive than building in other methods.
Steel structures do have certain benefits which are hard to match.
Generally, the building code will not call for a fire rating in a single store building where that building is small and/or far enough away from any fire source features, such as, adjoining property boundaries and is not used for certain high risk purposes.
In these cases, steel frame construction can be one of the most cost effective means of construction there are for the purposes of building Commercial and Industrial Structures.
Particularly where such framing does not need to be lined with additional cladding elements which would push the cost of the overall assembly above that of, in the case of a wall, a concrete wall panel, which usually needs no such lining to be applied.
As a second-generation family business, Mapel Building has been designing and constructing commercial and industrial buildings in Perth, Western Australia for over 25 years.