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Ross Kim
Geotechnical engineer
Asked a question 2 years ago

Which structure has higher strength: Concrete or Steel?

Which structure has higher strength concrete or steel?

Where am I?

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Generally, strength is of two types

  1. Compressive strength
  2. Tensile strength

If you are asking only for concrete then concrete is weak in tensile loads than steel.

Structural Steel has the greatest strength as compared to concrete. reasons are as follows:

  1. Elastic modulus of concrete is lesser than Steel. This makes concrete weaker than Steel in tensile load.
  2. Strength to weight ratio of concrete is lower. Because the size of Steel reinforcement is very small and thus weight reduced.
  3. Steel is a factory manufactured and have a homogeneous structure. It is also well compacted, Which makes it better and stronger than concrete. Concrete is a mixture of cement, sand, aggregate and water where it is made at the site. so no homogeneous structure is formed.
  • compressive strength of reinforced concrete – 4000 psi
  • Compressive strength of structural Steel – 25000 psi

It depends on how you are using those two materials.

Concrete has incredible compressive strength but it has very little to no ductility or flexibility. Concrete, done correctly, continues to get harder with time, up to about one hundred years. Because it is so inflexible, concrete is usually reinforced with other materials. Concrete is often reinforced with synthetic fibers that are mixed into the wet concrete and this inclusion aids the strengthening of concrete by giving it a secondary way of absorbing weight or stress from loading. Reinforcing bar (or “rebar”) is often placed in concrete forms to bolster the overall strength of a concrete structure by pouring wet concrete into the form and encasing the rebar inside the concrete. This construction technique greatly increases the flexibility and strength of a concrete structure.

Steel, on the other hand, has intrinsic strength completely on its own. Steel has a very high strength to weight ratio and can absorb great amounts of load weight in compression as well as in tension. Steel shapes can also move in a tortional way without permanent deformation, at least to the yield point of the steel in question, unlike concrete which would crack and crumble under the same scenario.

The greatest difference between the two lies in steels ability to bend, flex and return to its original shape without deformation, in addition to very high load carrying capability. Concrete can certainly hold a lot of weight when loaded in compression but when that limit is achieved, it wil crack and be compromised. A good way to illustrate this is to look at the performance of the two materials in earthquakes. Steel structures can bend and move in earthquakes but concrete structures will repeatedly fail, crack and become unusable.

So the correct answer to your question lies in how the two materials will be utilized. They both have very specific characteristics and their uses must be carefully selected based upon those material’s special capabilities.

Hope it helps.

Truly speaking, the concrete building has more safe advantages as compared to the steel structure.

The concrete structure can endure the highest temperatures for a long time.

The concrete structure also provides good protection from explosions.

Speed of construction with concrete is very fast as compared with the steel structure, and indirectly it saves money.

Repairing the cost of the concrete structure is less than that of the steel structure.

Thanking You.

Basically, concrete buildings offer many safety advantages over steel buildings. Compared to steel concrete can endure very high temperatures for long periods and offers excellent protection from explosions. The strength to weight ratio of steel is higher than any other construction material.

Flenn Hale
Construction Manager

Steel have higher strength than concrete.