If you're working with contractors to build a new home or a new workplace, you'll have to learn a little bit about steel at some point. Most buildings use a variety of steel types, and it can help to become familiar with all of them so you can discuss options with your contractor. Steel is formed by merging iron and carbon together. These already-strong materials come together to become one of the most integral parts of nearly any building. Below, you'll learn more about the types of steel that you're most likely to come across during the building process.
Bendable Steel: Foil Steel
Foil steel is so thin that it can be bent. In fact, it is typically transported in roll form. This type of steel is most likely to be used for plumbing purposes, in particular pipes. It is also used for insulation purposes and as a heat shield in buildings.
Steel in Fabricated Panels: Sheet Steel
Sheet steel is not as thin as foil steel. This type of steel is 6 mm (0.25 in) or more thick. Sheet steel is used for windows, roofs, and for siding. Sheet steel may even be used in sculptures or as a unique building finish. For example, the Chrysler Building is covered in steel sheet, fashioned in a unique art deco style.
Steel in Plates: Structural Steel
The thickest type of steel used in buildings today is structural steel. Structural steel is made in plates that measure more than 0.25 inches thick. Structural steel can be far thicker as well. The thickness of the steel depends upon how much it needs to support, and it can be fabricated in nearly any width. This variety of steel is rarely used in homes, but it may frequently be used in multi-story buildings as a very strong type of support.
It is also fairly common to see structural steel in modern and particularly unique architecture. The Newport Beach Civic Center and Park in California, the Willis Tower (formerly the Sears Tower) in Chicago, and the U.S. Steel Tower in Pittsburgh are some examples of famous buildings that are constructed primarily of structural steel. Structural steel is, by far, the strongest and most durable of all steel building materials.
No matter what type of building project you're embarking on, you're likely to need steel somewhere in the construction. Talk to your contractor about all the ways that steel may be needed in your next home or office building today,