Most people are aware of the fact that concrete is one of the most widely-used construction materials – but contrary to popular belief it is not that strong on its own. The truth is that concrete in itself is actually rather brittle – unless the steel is placed in it.
That is essentially one of the main reasons why we put steel in concrete. When concrete contains a steel bar, it is reinforced and strengthened. In fact, it would be more accurate to say that reinforced concrete is actually one of the most widely-used construction materials.
Why is Steel Used to Reinforce Concrete
Technically there are other types of materials that can be used to reinforce concrete, but steel is by far the most popular. There are several reasons why that is the case, such as:
- Steel is highly ductile, meaning it can be deformed and bent without breaking. Due to this property, it can be bent into whatever shape is required to support the concrete based on the building’s design.
- Steel bonds well with concrete allowing reinforced concrete to act like new and stronger material. When strain is placed on reinforced concrete, it is supported by both the concrete and the steel due to the strength of their bond.
- Steel is inexpensive and easily available which means that it won’t inflate the budget for construction projects nor will it be difficult to source. Other materials that can reinforce concrete tend to be more expensive, or not as advantageous.
- Steel can be recycled, so it reduces wastage if the building ever needs to be deconstructed. With the right equipment, the steel bars can be separated from reinforced concrete fairly easily, and reused in new projects after being melted down.
- Steel has the same coefficient of thermal expansion as concrete so they both shrink and expand at the same rate. In that way, they are able to stay firmly bonded regardless of the temperature.
Simply put, steel is the perfect material to reinforce concrete and it is truly a match made in heaven. Putting the two together will create a strong material that is ideal for construction projects.
What About Steel Decks?
Aside from steel bars being used to reinforce concrete, steel decks are also sometimes used in concrete. However, unlike steel bars that are placed in concrete, steel decks do not reinforce it – but provide support when the concrete is poured and until it is cured.
The main reasons why steel decks are used are because they are convenient, easy to install, and can improve the speed of construction. Steel decks can be quickly placed and are able to cover larger spans.
Additionally, steel decks have advantages over other types of decks. As a material, steel is cheap and readily available, and because it is lighter than concrete it can help to reduce the weight of the structure.
The fact that a steel deck is stronger than other flooring systems means that the amount of concrete required for slabs can be reduced too, without compromising the strength of the structure.
All in all steel decks are a versatile and useful system for construction projects – which is why many tend to favor them.
Overall it should be clear that putting steel in concrete can provide numerous benefits – both in the form of steel bars to reinforce it, or steel decks to support it. Over the years using steel in conjunction with concrete has become a mainstay in the construction industry and that isn’t likely to change in the near future due to the crucial role it plays.