The Constructor

Difference Between Reinforced Concrete (RC) and Steel Structures



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Reinforced concrete structures and steel structures follow a similar load transfer method but they differ in several factors like material, construction, load carrying capacity, durability, etc. One of the important difference is that the former uses concrete and the latter employs steel for their construction.

Some of the important differences between RC structures and steel structures are explained here.

Sl.No Difference RC Structures Steel Structures
1 Material The basic material used is reinforced cement concrete to take up the load Steel is the material used to take the load
2 Cross-section of Structural Element In RC structures, the cross-section of the structural elements is large The structural elements of steel structures have small cross-sections.
3 Durability The durability of concrete is high. High-quality RC structure is less affected by common weather and environmental conditions. The steel structures are prone to rust when exposed to environmental conditions. Hence steel structures have less durability.
4 Resistance to Earthquake/Dynamic Loads RC structures are highly brittle in nature. These type of structure have less resistance to dynamic loads like earthquakes and wind. Steel structures are ductile in nature thus increasing their resistance to dynamic loads.
5 Load Carrying Capacity RC structures have low load-carrying capacity compared with steel structures. The steel structures have an appreciable load-carrying capacity.
6 Self-Weight Construction of structures with concrete consumes large amount of raw materials. Hence the self-weight of reinforced concrete structures are high. The steel, in general, has 60 percent less weight compared to concrete.
7 Foundation Reinforced concrete structure possesses huge dead weight which hence demands a strong foundation to support. Steel structures do not demand heavy foundation. 
8 Tensile Strength In RC structures, the tensile strength of the concrete elements is less compared to steel structural elements. Steel structural elements have high tensile strength compared to RC structures.
9 Labour Requirement The construction of reinforced concrete structures is labor-intensive. Construction of steel structures requires less labor. Most of the components are fabricated in the workshop and assembled at the site.
10 Construction Construction of RC structure is simple. Construction of steel structure is tough.
11 Cos of construction Economical Costly
12 Construction Speed Reinforced concrete structures require time for concreting, curing etc. which is a slow process. Steel structures are constructed with high speed.
13 Quality control It is tough to maintain quality through concrete construction. Better quality control can be obtained in steel structures.
14 Fire Resistance The fire resistance of the concrete structure is high. The fire resistance of steel structure is less.
15 Scrap Value Concrete does not have any scrap value. The steel scraps have a good scrap value.
16 Corrosion A properly designed and constructed reinforced concrete structure is not prone to corrosion. The steel frame structure has chances to deteriorate due to corrosion.
17 Repair and Maintenance The repair and cost of maintenance of the concrete structure are tough and time taking. Steel structures can be repaired very easily and hence their cost of maintenance is less.  

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