What Are Steel Support Systems?

Steel support systems play a critical role in supporting a structure’s cladding. These systems are made of structural steel, a specific category of steel used to produce construction materials, which is then molded into a particular shape.

Such steel usually takes the form of an I-beam, but other shapes are also possible, including a Z-Shape, an HSS-Shape, a rod, and a plate. Many manufacturers use hot or cold rolling to create these various shapes, while others weld together bent or flat plates.

Every country has its own standards for the steels used in support systems. In the U.S., ASTM International identifies and formally specifies standard alloys. Some common structural steels include carbon steel, high strength low alloy steel, and corrosion-resistant, high strength, low alloy steel.

In general, structural steel is a popular choice in construction because of its impressive characteristics. Its compressive and tensile strengths, for example, make it well-suited to both commercial and industrial buildings. This type of steel can be configured into almost any shape that can then be welded or bolted during construction. Structural steel also resists mold and corrosion much more effectively than other building materials. Structural steel is noncombustible, but since it will lose strength and stiffness in a fire, International Building Codes require it to be surrounded by fire-resistant materials.

Steel support systems need to be designed and installed with care and accuracy. Because the critical dimensions of a support system are smaller than the common structural dimension, any deviations in the dimension can have a large ripple effect on load position. It can also greatly affect associated deflections and stresses in the rest of the support system and main structure.

Steel Support System Applications

Steel support systems are utilized across a broad range of industries, most commonly in construction as its constructability and high strength-to-weight ratio make it an ideal choice for high rise buildings and skyscrapers. Compared to concrete, structural steel requires less volume to support the same load. In multi-level buildings, this characteristic becomes critical to the structure’s stability and overall economy.

Steel support structures are also used in industrial processing and distribution equipment, especially in waste management. Examples of structures that often depend on a steel support system include:

  • Catwalks
  • Crossovers
  • Pipe racking
  • Building structures
  • Stair towers
  • Equipment platforms
  • Elevated work platforms

Steel support systems are indispensable to modern construction. Prized for their strength and versatility, they fare well in any number of projects, from a single family home to a soaring skyscraper.

Contact us today if you’d like to explore working with us on your next project.