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The Disadvantages of Steel Beams

Aubrey Warshaw
Table of Contents

Wood beams, concrete beams and steel beams are all involved in the construction of buildings ranging from housing to skyscrapers. Steel beams are strong and versatile, but they do have some disadvantages when compared to wood beams.

Steel beams make skyscrapers possible.

Steel beams have a high cost, are heavy, will rust over time and pollute the environment.


Steel beams are generally more expensive than reinforced concrete and wood beams. While steel beams cost more per lineal foot than wood beams, they also often require more labor costs because welders are needed for installation.


Steel beams can retain moisture and condensation in a structure, while wood beams are able to absorb it. This can lead to potential problems involving rusting. Wood, in contrast, won't rust but can lead to potential termite problems.


Steel beams are much heavier than wood beams and are thus more difficult to work with. The heavy weight of steel makes the beams more challenging to maneuver than wood beams.


Steel beams can be unattractive when left exposed. Thus, steel beams are usually hidden by architectural treatments, while wood beams can help create dynamic open areas with a rustic look.


The production process of steel beams releases pollution into the air. It also requires a substantial amount of water in the manufacturing process, which could contribute to potential water shortages.