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Steel skeleton construction & steel frame construction; is there a difference?

30 April 2019

There are different ways of building with steel: Often the distinction between a steel skeleton construction and steel frame construction is not clear. In both cases, steel is used as a construction material for the primary supporting structure of a building.   After all, the term steel construction, and more specifically structural steel, includes many different products and structural elements, each with its own characteristics and specific strengths.

The choice to choose steel construction as the construction method for building a house depends on several factors. In the following articles you can find the pros and cons of the two steel construction methods.

Steel frame construction

Features

  • Frame = a framework of structural supporting styles and rules
  • The elements consist of cold-formed steel profiles
  • Limited in weight
  • Vertically distributed loads
  • Consisting of single profiles (C, U, sigma, omega, cross shape, etc.) or composite profiles.
  • The connections are made using self-tapping screws or nuts and bolts.

Benefits

  • Off-site preparation in workshop = shorter construction site time
  • 100% customisation
  • Sustainable
  • Cold-formed steel profiles are light, dimensionally stable and insensitive to weather influences/vermin.
  • Large spans and cantilevers are possible
  • Limited in weight, ideal for renovations and height increases

Challenges

  • Focus on large span/cantilever
  • Combination with structural steel
  • Calculation of construction nodes

Steel frame construction

Features

  • Skeleton = primary support structure of linear elements
  • The elements consist of hot-rolled columns and beams
  • Heavy to very heavy weight
  • Vertical point loads
  • Consists of different shapes (IPE, columns, I-profiles, tube profiles, etc.)
  • The connections are made by welding or bolting seams.

Benefits

  • Plan-based implementation independent of supporting structure
  • Large spans and cantilevers are possible
  • Can handle heavy to very heavy loads
  • Create sufficient load-bearing capacity at a low height

Challenges

  • Individual elements are heavy
  • Connections must be welded
  • Off-site preparation very limited