Steel Structures FAQs

Why use steel for my structure?

Steel has overtaken other products as the main structural component in buildings.

Steel as a structural product tends to be cheaper than alternative materials, quicker to produce and install and offers a wider degree of design versatility and adaptability. As well as being safer and more environmentally friendly.

Cost – Apart from being a cheaper material compared many other products using steel as your structural material will also save you money by reducing foundation costs, saving on labour time and will not require any time/money spent on maintenance in the future.

Time – Steel fabrication is a quick and easy process for large structural fabricators. Your steels and connections will all be pre-fabricated by your chosen fabricator and delivered to site with an easy to follow installation pack. The prefabricated steels can be bolted together quickly and easily allowing the project to efficiently move forward and decrease delays.

Versatility – The design versatility of steel is incredibly vast, making it extremely popular with both architects and structural engineers. Steel can be moulded into any form and even with complex designs, different structures, sections and connects can be combined to make even the most complex building design possible.

Adaptability – Steel framing can be easily extended. For example, support beams can be strengthened or connected without reducing floor space, making extending or converting existing buildings much easier than using other structures.

Health & Safety – Steel is fire resistant and mould resistant and in its treated form will be resistant to rust ensuring that is remains structurally sound throughout it’s lifetime. Steel also has a much greater lifespan than other materials without maintenance. And around 90% of all structural steel is now recycled making it one of the most environmentally friendly building materials, as well as the safest.

What do I need to look for when buying structural steel?

When taking on any project you need to work within your budget and complete the project on time. And when this involves the structural integrity of your home, safety and accuracy are also integral.

Structural design has become incredibly complex with use of computer aided design. This means that cutting must be done with a high degree of accuracy to meet tolerance requirements. In many cases, this means using sophisticated CNC cutting equipment, and modern fabrication methods. Using up to date methods and technology ensures that quality standards are met while keeping costs down. Make sure that the company you use has a high level of experience and uses modern machinery and fabrication to ensure your steels are fabricated accurately. You need to be sure that they have the skills, equipment, and workspace to deliver what is required.

Since 2014 CE Marking has been a legal requirement for all structural steel fabricators. It ensures that all steels have been tested for strength and structural capacity before being used for your project. Without your steels being CE marked there is no guarantee that the steels have been tested and may not be structurally sound. Check with your fabricator that they are CE marked and you ensure you are buying steels that will hold up the structure of your home, giving you peace of mind.

Timeframes are extremely important when doing any building project. We all want work to be done in a timely manner to let us get back to normal day to day life, which is why here at Steels Direct we offer an express turn around service!

Waiting around for your steels can cause serious project delays but to ensure accuracy in their fabrication you want to measure the exact dimensions on site rather than relying solely on engineer’s drawings. This allows you the get the lengths millimetre perfect. However, by the time you are ready to measure for your steels, you are also ready to install them. Which is why a fast turnaround time is integral to allow your project to keep progressing with no delays!

Ask about our express turn around today! We can have your steels fabricated and delivered within 48 hours!

What are lintels?

A lintel is a common reference you might hear referred to when talking about steel structures.

Although it is not actually referenced as either a section or structure it tends to refer to any beam spanning between two points and supporting what is above.

What is an RSJ?

An RSJ or ‘rolled steel joist’ is a reference used to describe Universal Beams or Universal Columns, also know as ‘H’ beams or ‘I’ beams.

Steel columns or beams are sometimes referred to as RSJ’s as the steel is produced by either hot or cold rolling. However, this phrase is not a technical term as there is no distinction to weather an RSJ refers to a column, beam or one of the many other sections of steel that are used as structural components.

The exact structural component or combination of structural components you will need for your project will be outlined by your structural engineer.

How do I know what steels I need for my project?

Whether your project involves taking out existing walls, adding an extension to an existing building or an entire new build you will need to engage a structural engineer who will take your project plan and detail how to make your build structurally sound. You will need the structure detailed by a qualified engineer in order to pass building control which is a legal requirement for any structural work to a building. If you are the owner of the property you are ultimately responsible, so if you are using a builder you a required to ensure that they have complied to these legal requirements.

The structural engineer drawings that you need will show any requirements for steels for your project and this is what we need to be able to provide you with a quote! So please feel free to send us this today to receive your free quotation!

How do I get a quotation?

Here at Steels Direct we try to make our process as easy as possible so to enable us to provide with your free, no obligation quotation today just follow our easy steps below:

  1. Give us a call or email in your details including your delivery address, steel requirements or structural engineer’s drawings.
  2. One of our dedicated project mangers will contact you to discuss the details of your project and make sure we have everything we need to provide you with a quotation.
  3. Your quotation will be sent to you via email but we will also call you to talk this through with you to ensure everything is clear.
  4. Check over your quote! Our quotes are all itemised so that you can check that we have included everything you need for your structure.
  5. Pay your deposit and you are ready to go! We can start to detail your structure and fabricate your steels ready for a quick and easy delivery.

Need more information? Feel free to call us today! Our dedicated project managers are on hand to help and advise you.

How quickly can I get my steels?

Timeframes are extremely important when doing any building project. We all want work to be done in a timely manner to let us get back to normal day to day life, which is why here at Steels Direct we offer an express turn around service!

Waiting around for your steels can cause serious project delays but to ensure accuracy in their fabrication you want to measure the exact dimensions on site rather than relying solely on engineer’s drawings. This allows you the get the lengths millimetre perfect. However, by the time you are ready to measure for your steels, you are also ready to install them. Which is why a fast turn around time is integral to allow your project to keep progressing with no delays!

Here at Steels Direct we offer an express turn around for steel fabrications and delivery. For most projects once your detailing drawings have been sent to you and confirmed we can turn around your steel fabrications and delivery in just 48 hours.

Ask about our express turn around today!

Why do I need steels for my project?

Most projects do not necessarily ‘need’ steels but do require some sort of structural component such as beams and columns to create a sound structure to build walls, doors and windows from. Steels have become the most modern way of creating these structures due to their strength, efficiency and design adaptability. And, for some more complex designs, steels are the only option!

When planning your project, you will need to have plans or calculations drawn up by architects and/or structural engineers to certify that what you are planning is feasible and safe. Your structural engineer will inform you as to what structural components are needed for your project, most likely you will need at least some steel components to achieve this.

How do I install my steels?

Your steels will be delivered fully fabricated with all connections required. We will provide you with a full, easy to follow installation guide to work from. Think of it like a Meccano kit! If you are using an experienced builder for your project, then they will have installed steel structures many times before so it should be a piece of cake. However, if you do have any issues, we are always on hand to help so please feel free to give the team a call!

What is CE Marking?

CE Marking is now mandatory for all construction products, including all structural steelwork. The marking, which became a legal requirement in 2014, ensures that all steel work is tested (for strength and structural integrity) and conforms to a harmonised European standard. This represented a major development for engineers, contractors and steelwork specialists and it demands careful attention to the new obligations imposed.

All fabricated structural steelwork, engineers, contractors and steelwork contractors should legally have amended their specifications accordingly to ensure only CE Marked products are used on their projects. This ensures that all the steel and fabrications produced have been tested to EU standards to ensure their structural capabilities.

It is therefore integral that you choose a CE marked fabricator when purchasing any structural steels! If it is not CE marked steel, it does not confirm to EU regulations and may not be structurally viable for your home and could be rejected by building control.

What areas do you cover?

Steels Direct predominantly supply structural steels within the Midlands and surrounding areas but we are always looking to expand so please feel free to make an enquiry no matter where in the UK you are based. We will always do our best to help!

How will my steels be delivered?

We offer a range of delivery options depending on the sizes and weights of your steels and access to your project. Usually a flatbed is required but some steels are small enough to be delivered in vans whilst others with difficult site access will require a hi-ab. If you have concerns about delivery or access please let our team know, they will be more than happy to assist!

Can you join steel beams together?

Yes, various connections can be used to connect steel beams.

The exact connection will be crafted to allow for the design and force that is bore onto the structure. This will most likely be completed by a structural engineer, but we can design this via our in-house team if you require.

Splice connections are one of the most useful connections in steelwork.

They allow for very heavy or long beams to be cut into smaller, more manageable sections and re-jointed together onsite.

It makes the beam easier to manoeuvre, but still keeps its full structural ability.

Can you extend a steel-framed house?

Yes, with the relevant planning extending a steel-framed home is easy.

Additional steelwork can be bolted on to existing beams to expand spaces or create additional rooms.

Extending your home with a steel frame can be a simple and easy way to add additional space to your home. But it’s important that you go through all the regular channels to gain planning permission and adhere to building control ahead of any project.

What is the minimum bearing for a steel beam?

Typically, a minimum bearing of 100mm is needed for beams that bear either end (or sometimes both ends) onto a concrete padstone.

The standard bearing is 150mm, and this can be larger. But, anything under 100mm would be highly unusual, as the less the beam bears onto the padstone the less force can be transferred down into a building’s foundations.

What sizes do RSJ’s come in?

An RSJ or ‘rolled steel joist’ is a phrase which commonly refers to both universal beams and columns.

We have shared a comprehensive list of standard sizes for both universal beams and columns here, if you click on the size chart below the corresponding options.

RSJ’s are available in standard sizes and are explained by the height x width x weight per meter. They both come in various lengths which are cut down to suit the length in which they are required to span.

It is unusual to need a custom-made sized beam, as there are so many options, however, some projects may require this.

These can be fabricated and are commonly referred to as ‘plate girders’, sections of steel plate that are welded together to form a beam. This is particularly common where an extremely large length is needed, but the roof space is limited so a large beam cannot be used.

How do you calculate steel beam size?

Beam size should be calculated and decided by a fully qualified structural engineer.

You will need to arrange for a structural engineer to ensure any extension, home build or renovation is structurally sound and complies with local building regulations.

Your structural engineer will take measurements and decide which steel components you will need to use.

For example, they will tell you that you will need 152x152x23UC to support the opening for your new bi-fold doors.

They will also estimate the length that this will span. However, it is important to note that when you are given these lengths they are based on informed estimates only. This means that they will need to be confirmed to accurate onsite dimensions, as a couple of mm can make all the difference.

How far can a steel beam span without support?

The length a steel beam can span greatly depends on 2 factors:
1. The size of the beam itself
2. The weight/force it has to support

Larger beams are able to take larger weights and support them over larger distances.

But, the size of some larger beams tend to be impractical on domestic projects. This is because they cannot be hidden in roofs and cannot be manoeuvred on site without heavy machinery. They also require larger columns/padstone which can increase their impracticality.

If you have a large space that you want to open up the best option is to speak to your structural engineer about how you can achieve this.

Let’s discuss your steels project and needs