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How long does structural steel last?

The projects that Kelly Steel works on are built to stand the test of time, so how long does structural steel last for?

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Structural steel designed to stand the test of time

Many of the projects that Kelly Steel works on involves transforming raw structural steel into final products that are built to stand the test of time. We fabricate and assemble structural steel into its intended form, that will last for many decades and perhaps even longer.

So, exactly how long does structural steel last? Will the projects that Kelly Steel build still be around in 2123 and beyond?

Structural steel designed to stand the test of time

Before we look at how long it will last, it’s worth explaining what structural steel is.

Structural steel is a very strong, durable steel that’s used in construction projects where strength, stability and load bearing are required. Larger buildings, structures and bridges for example.

Structural steel commonly comes in various shapes, such as I-beams, H-beams, channels, angles, and plates. These shapes are optimised to distribute loads efficiently and provide maximum strength.

Structural steel must meet specific industry standards and undergo rigorous testing to ensure aspects such as yield strength, tensile strength and ductility meet the required specifications.

When compared with ordinary steel – often called mild steel, which is more of a general purpose steel – structural steel has a higher carbon content and is made from various alloys to make it stronger and more durable.

Structural steel designed to stand the test of time

Will structural steel produced today still be around in 100 years?

The simple answer to the above question is yes. Although the answer is a little more complex in practice.

The longevity of structural steel largely depends on several factors, including the quality of the steel, the quality of the steel fabrication, assembly and construction, the environment it is exposed to and the maintenance it receives over time.

When properly designed, fabricated, and maintained, structural steel can last for many decades and even centuries.

Here are the key factors that influence the lifespan of structural steel:

  1. The quality and grade of the structural steel used in construction play a significant role in determining its durability. High-quality steel, produced with strict industry standards, higher carbon content and proper alloying elements, offers enhanced strength and corrosion resistance, ensuring a longer service life.
  2. Similarly, the quality of the design, detailing, and construction will play a significant role in the longevity of structural steel. A well-designed and accurately fabricated structure will better resist fatigue, deformation, and other stresses that could affect its lifespan.
  3. One of the primary challenges to the longevity of structural steel is corrosion. Proper corrosion protection methods, such as galvanizing or applying protective coatings, can significantly extend the lifespan of the steel by preventing rust and corrosion in harsh environments.
  4. Regular maintenance and inspection are essential to preserve the structural integrity of steel. Periodic checks for signs of corrosion, fatigue, or damage, followed by appropriate repairs or treatments, help prevent minor issues from becoming significant problems over time.
  5. The environment in which the structural steel is installed also affects its longevity. Excessive exposure to moisture, saltwater, chemicals, or extreme temperatures can accelerate the deterioration of the steel. In corrosive environments, the application of appropriate coatings and maintenance is even more crucial.
  6. The load-bearing capacity of structural steel is designed to handle specific stresses and loads. Overloading or subjecting the steel to forces beyond its design capacity can cause premature wear and shorten lifespan.
Will structural steel produced today still be around in 100 years?

Iconic structural steel structures

Some of the world’s most iconic structures made of structural steel have stood the test of time. For instance:

  • The Eiffel Tower in Paris, completed in 1889, still stands strong over a century later, thanks to its durable structural steel construction.
  • Many bridges made of structural steel have demonstrated exceptional longevity. The Brooklyn Bridge, opened in 1883, continues to serve as a vital transportation link in New York City. Australia’s Sydney Harbour Bridge is another fine example. While it’s ‘only’ 100 years old, it’s still as practical and aesthetically pleasing today as it was when it was built.
  • Numerous steel-framed skyscrapers built several decades ago are still standing strong and showcasing the long-lasting potential of structural steel. For example, the Empire State Building in New York.

Modern structural steel structures

It’s worth highlighting that the structural steel used in some of the examples above is not the same structural steel that Kelly Steel uses today.

Advances in steel manufacturing – as well as advances in design, fabrication and construction methods – means structural steel projects built today can potentially enjoy even longer lifespans.

Looking for an enduring choice for your next project? Choose structural steel. Looking for a reliable and trustworthy partner for steel fabrication? Choose Kelly Steel.

We build quality steel structures with a lasting legacy.

Modern structural steel structures
Will structural steel produced today still be around in 100 years

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