The construction of a commercial or residential building cannot be imagined without the use of concrete and steel. These two components are the most essential composite in the construction field. The reasons why they are preferred is their advantages in terms of strength and withstanding the loads. However, what if a comparison was made between concrete and steel. To see which one tops the other in terms of certain parameters.
So, which material surpasses the other in the field of construction – concrete or steel?. We know that both are important for constructing a structure but let us find out what these two materials are capable of.
The Comparison between reinforced steel and concrete
The construction of a building depends on many factors, however, the ideal solution is to find the right process that is feasible and can produce the desired result as intended. Below are some of the parameters used for the comparison of reinforced steel and concrete.
Steel is quite pricey compared to concrete mixture. Even though steel is 99% recyclable, in a country like India with abundant natural resources for quality concrete materials, cement concrete tends wins hands down for being economical in comparison to steel, especially so in the case of structural steel.
But as in RCC construction, instead of structural steel constructs, use of steel is greatly reduced when steel is used as reinforcement to concrete, cutting down the need for large quantity of steel. Steel bars with continuous innovation has been able to impart with high tensile strength. For instance, TMT technology has been able to impart very high tensile strength to steel and thus actually reducing the amount of steel required for reinforcement.
But currently the trends are changing, especially due to the increasing demand of sand, a major aggregate required in concrete. Accordance to United Nation “Sand and gravel represent the highest volume of raw material used on earth after water. Their use greatly exceeds their natural renewal rates” (UNEP, 2014). The increased demand can’t be sadly met with the desert sands as one might think, as they have been shaped by wind and are unlike sand made due to erosion by water. Desert sand basically do not have the ability to bind together as they have been well rounded.
Time taken for undertaking construction is quite less when using structural steel. As the steel sections are readily available, minimum time is required for construction when compared with concrete structures that require curing period.
Human labour and resources
Steel structures require highly skilled labourers as a large number of precision tasks are involved. The number of skilled labourers required is higher when compared to concrete structures. Even Though the labour force is expensive, since the time required for completion of project tends to be less, comparison based on cost factor is irrelevant.
Life expectancy and maintenance of structure
Steel is naturally prone to corrosion, so steps must be taken to ensure longevity. Cyclic maintenance for rust protection is a must in steel structure. Life expectancy of concrete structure is high when compared to steel structure and incurs lesser maintenance cost.
We will be discussing more about the pros and cons of construction using Steel or concrete in the next blog.