What are the different types of steel structures?

What is a steel structure?

A steel structure building is a type of construction made from fabricated metal, primarily steel for both internal support and exterior material. Steel is one of the most widely used materials in the world of construction today. There are different types of steel, but in general, steel refers to all iron and carbon alloys. It is one of the most efficient building materials. Steel has such a special place in the construction of many structures that in some building projects, steel is the only material that is accepted for certain parts of the project and it cannot be replaced with a different material.


What are the types of steel structures?

The types of steel structures are divided into four general categories, depending on the type of bearing forces applied to them:

  • Frame structure
  • Shell structure
  • Suspension structure
  • Truss structure


Frame structure

This type of metal structure is widely used for the manufacture of high-rise constructions, towers, residential and industrial buildings, sports structures, and sheds. Frame structures typically consist of vertical columns and horizontal beams, which are riveted, bolted, or welded together in a rectilinear grid.


Advantages of Steel Frame Structural Construction

  • Incredibly versatile
  • Environmentally friendly
  • Sustainable
  • Affordable
  • Durable
  • Erected quickly and easily
  • High strength
  • Relatively low weight
  • Ability to span large distances
  • Adaptability to any kind of shape
  • Ductility (when subjected to great force, it will not suddenly crack like glass, but slowly bend out of shape)


Shell structure

Shell structures are also commonly known as plate structures. The walls of these structures can be quite thin, especially as compared to the length and breadth of the structures. These types of structures are known as thin shell structures.


Types and Forms of Shell Structure

  • Folded Plates
  • Barrel Vaults
  • Short Shells
  • Domes (surfaces of revolution)
  • Folded Plate Domes
  • Translational Shells
  • Warped Surfaces
  • Combinations


Suspension structure

A suspended structure is a construction that is supported by cables coming from beams or trusses which sit atop a concrete center column or core.

Suspension bridges, for example, are strong because the force on the bridge gets spread out and isn’t just concentrated in certain areas. The weight of the cars, trains, or whatever may be travelling across it pulls on the cables, creating tension. Those cables then pull down on the towers and on the anchors on either end of the bridge, which holds up the deck of the bridge.

Different types of suspension

  • Multi-Link Suspension
  • Rigid Axle Suspension
  • Macpherson Suspension
  • Double Wishbone Suspension
  • Independent Suspension
  • Rigid suspension – Leaf Spring
  • Trailing Arm Suspension
  • Air Suspension


Truss structure

A truss structure is a construction in which the forces acting on the structure are transferred to the ground using trusses, which are triangular steel beams with articulated connections to the supports.


Types of Truss Structures

  • Pratt Truss
  • Warren Truss
  • K Truss
  • Howe Truss
  • Fink Truss
  • Gambrel Truss


Advantages of steel structures

The reason for the growing popularity of various types of steel structures is related to their characteristics and advantages over concrete and other popular materials. The dynamic properties of steel are what make it so well-liked. These properties include strength; ease in forming and hammering; weld acceptance; springiness; and elasticity.

Steel structures in general are very sturdy and versatile. This material can be used for constructing buildings of all sorts of shapes and sizes: smaller office buildings and expansive warehouses can equally benefit from steel construction. The affordability and easy installation aren’t bad, either.


Disadvantages of steel structures

Steel is an alloy of iron, which makes it susceptible to corrosion. This problem can be solved to some extent using anti-corrosion applications. This gives steel a high maintenance cost, as it has to be painted to make it corrosion-resistant. The necessity of fireproofing steel constructions incurs additional costs. In high temperatures, steel loses its properties. Another problem to take into consideration is buckling. As the length of the steel column increases, the chance of buckling also increases. Steel also has a high expansion rate with changing temperatures. This can be detrimental to the overall structure.



Steel is a popular material for construction, and it’s no wonder—with a plethora of benefits and a world of different ways to use it, steel is a strong and dynamic building material with infinite applications.

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