Steel Structure Building: Ultimate Guide

Steel structure refers to buildings constructed primarily with steel materials and is widely used in various fields: factories, warehouses, schools, sports arenas, shopping malls, highways, bridges, and more. It is one of the indispensable types of building structures in modern architecture and engineering, closely intertwined with human life.

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What is a Steel Structure Building?

What is a Steel Structure Building

Steel structure is a type of building structure primarily composed of steel materials, and it is one of the main types of building structures. Steel materials are processed through cutting, welding, rust removal, painting, and other techniques to form structural components such as beams, columns, and trusses. These components are then connected together through welding, bolts, rivets, etc., to withstand and transmit loads. Steel structures are characterized by lightweight, high strength, seismic resistance, good ductility, fast construction speed, and environmental friendliness. They are widely used in large factories, sports arenas, schools, shopping malls, highways, bridges, and other fields.


Types of Steel Structure Building

Steel Frame Structures:

Steel Frame Structures

Consisting of columns, beams, and walls, steel frame structures can withstand both vertical and horizontal loads of the entire building, ensuring the stability of the overall structure. It is one of the most common types of steel structures.

Portal Frame Structure:

Portal Frame Structure

In a traditional structural system, the upper main frame consists of portal frame rafters, portal frame columns, supports, purlins, tie rods, gable frame skeleton, etc. It is suitable for buildings with relatively small spans, such as factories, warehouses, and workshops.

Steel Truss Structure:

Steel Truss Structure

Composed of numerous components forming triangular structures, steel truss structures can withstand significant loads. This type of structure boasts excellent strength and seismic resistance, with simple construction and convenient installation. It finds applications in roofing structures for both industrial and residential buildings, bridges, sports arenas, and more.

Steel Space Frame Structure:

Steel Space Frame Structure

A spatial structure composed of multiple rods, the steel space frame structure offers advantages such as low spatial stress, lightweight, high stiffness, and excellent seismic performance. It is commonly used in sports arenas, theaters, exhibition halls, waiting halls, canopies, and more.

Cable Structure:

Cable Structure

A structure primarily supported by cables, cable structures are used to support large-span structures, commonly applied in bridges, the roofs of large-span buildings, and more.

Tensile Membrane Structure:

Tensile Membrane Structure

Comprising various high-strength thin membrane materials and reinforcing components such as steel frames, columns, or cables, tensile membrane structures are formed into specific spatial shapes by applying predetermined tensile stresses internally. They serve as covering structures capable of withstanding external loads. These structures are commonly used in sports stadium stands, canopies, parking sheds, and more.

Light Steel Structure:

Light Steel Structure

Utilizing thinner steel frames, beams, and purlins connected through welding or riveting, light steel structures are forms of construction that do not require bearing heavy loads. 

Tower Mast Structure:

Tower Mast Structure

This is a towering structural system characterized by a relatively large height compared to its small cross-sectional area. It’s primarily designed to withstand wind loads and is commonly used for TV towers, communication towers, observation towers, and the like.    


Steel Structure Building Materials

Steel Materials:

Steel Materials

The primary material used in steel structures is steel, which comprises the main structural type in construction. Structures are primarily composed of components such as steel beams, columns, trusses, circular tubes, and steel plates made from steel materials.

Some common steel grades include:

Chinese standard Q195, equivalent to European standard S185, S235JR, and American standard A283, A36, 1018.

Chinese standard Q235, equivalent to European standard S235JR, S235J0, and American standard A36, A283C, 1018.

Chinese standard Q345, equivalent to European standard S355JR, S355J0, and American standard A572, A709, A633, A588. 

Steel Plates:

Steel Plates

Steel plates are essential materials in construction and structural engineering, typically made from high-strength steel. The advantages of steel plates include high strength, corrosion resistance, durability, and ease of construction.           



With a cross-section resembling the letter “H”, H-beam is an economical profile similar to the uppercase Latin letter “H”. Also known as a universal beam, it offers high strength and stability, commonly used in building structures as beams or columns.                                                                                                   



Its cross-section resembles the letter “I”, offering high strength and structural stability. I-beams are commonly used in building structures as beams or columns, suitable for supporting large-span structures.  

Channel Steel:

Channel Steel

Channel steel is a type of long steel with a cross-section shaped like a groove. It possesses good strength, rigidity, and stability, capable of bearing heavy loads and pressure. It finds wide applications in various fields such as building structures, bridge engineering, machinery manufacturing, and shipbuilding.

Angle Steel:

Angle Steel

A commonly seen steel material, angle steel has a cross-section shaped like an angle, featuring two perpendicular parallel edges. Its simple design makes it easy to process and connect, making it commonly used in building structures, machinery manufacturing, and other engineering applications.

Round Tube:

Round Tube

Round tubes are commonly used building materials with a circular cross-section. They are characterized by their lightweight, high strength, and reliability. Round tubes are typically employed in building structures, machinery manufacturing, and pipeline transportation, among other fields.

Square Tube:

Square Tube

Square tubes are a common type of steel material with a square or rectangular cross-section. They are rolled from strip steel through processing techniques. With their simple structure and high strength, square tubes are widely used in building structures, machinery manufacturing, bridge construction, and other fields.

C-shaped Steel:

C-shaped Steel

With a cross-section resembling the letter “C”, C-shaped steel is named for its similarity to the English letter “C”. It features characteristics such as lightweight, high strength, and good rigidity, making it widely used in industries such as construction, bridge building, industrial equipment, and railways.

Z-shaped Steel:

Z-shaped Steel

This widely used steel profile has a cross-section shaped like a letter “Z”. It boasts high strength and rigidity, making it extensively applied in various fields including construction, bridge building, and engineering machinery.




Fasteners are components used to join the parts of steel structures together, ensuring the transmission of loads and the stability of the structure. They primarily include bolts, nuts, anchor bolts, rivets, and reinforcing bars.

Protective Materials:

Protective Materials

Paint is the primary protective material for steel structures. To prolong the lifespan of steel structures and prevent oxidation and chemical corrosion due to humid weather, protective coatings such as paint, plating, or hot-dip galvanizing are applied to the surface of steel structures during production. These coatings act as barriers, preventing contact between air, water, and corrosive substances.


Advantages of Steel Structure Building  

Advantages of Steel Structure Building

Cost-effective with Short Construction Period:

Compared to traditional construction methods, steel structures have shorter construction periods, reducing on-site work and saving costs.

Strength and Rigidity:

The primary material used in steel structures is steel, which possesses excellent strength and rigidity. This enables steel structures to withstand larger loads, and due to the lightweight nature of steel, they can provide more space as well.

Excellent Seismic Performance:

Steel possesses good ductility and elongation, which makes steel structures have superior seismic resistance compared to other materials. This capability effectively reduces the damage to buildings caused by earthquakes.


Steel structures, as a primary form of modern prefabricated housing, contribute to sustainability by allowing steel materials to be recycled and reused. This reduces environmental impact, as both construction and demolition processes result in minimal pollution, aligning with international sustainable development policies.

Low Maintenance Costs:

The strength and rigidity of steel structures determine their durability, leading to prolonged use without the need for extensive replacement and maintenance.


How to Design Steel Structure Building?

Establishing Requirements


Establishing Requirements:

Before designing a steel structure, it’s crucial to gather essential information about the project. This includes details about the project’s location, purpose, size, budget, local climate, and legal regulations.

Determining Structural Type:

Based on the building type and load requirements, select the appropriate steel structure type, such as steel frame structures, portal frame structures, steel truss structures, etc.

Load Calculation:

Based on the actual environmental conditions and usage requirements, determine the load situation for the steel structure, including static loads (dead loads, live loads), dynamic loads (wind, snow, seismic), etc.

Steel Material Calculation:

Based on the strength and stiffness requirements of the materials, calculate the quantity of steel required. This ensures the safe use of the steel structure while optimizing the usage of steel materials.

Connection Design:

Perform calculations and design for the joints to ensure the overall stiffness and stability of the steel structure. This includes considerations for welding, bolted connections, riveting, etc.

Detailed Drawing Design:

Create construction drawings based on the structural design details, including 

structural plans, sectional drawings, and node diagrams. After completing the drawings, conduct comprehensive checks and reviews to ensure their accuracy and feasibility.


How to Manufacture Steel Structures Building?

How to Manufacture Steel Structures Building

Material Preparation:

In the production process of steel structures, the first step is to prepare the required steel materials. These materials must not only come with quality specifications but also meet the requirements for steel structure production.

Production Processing:

The prepared materials are processed according to the design and specifications outlined in the drawings. This involves welding, cutting, bolted connections, riveting, and other processes to fabricate the required steel structural components, such as columns, beams, trusses, etc.

Surface Treatment:

To extend the lifespan of steel structures and prevent corrosion and oxidation, the surface of steel structures undergoes various treatments during production. These treatments may include rust removal, sandblasting, hot-dip galvanizing, painting, and other processes.

Acceptance of Steel Structural Components:

Quality inspection and acceptance work are conducted to ensure that each part produced meets the design requirements and construction standards. Once verified, the components can proceed to installation.


Installation Process

Installation Process

Pre-construction Preparation: 

Ensure that the construction area, as planned according to the design drawings, is ready for installation. This includes completing the construction of the foundation to ensure smooth construction operations.

Material Delivery and Inspection:

Transport the numbered steel structures to the construction site and conduct material inspection upon arrival. Ensure that the quantity and quality of materials meet the specified requirements.

Steel Frame Installation:

Steel structural components are the primary supporting structures of steel construction. It is essential to follow the design drawings for the connection and assembly of components. During the assembly process, attention should be paid to the accuracy of component fitting and assembly quality to ensure the accuracy and stability of the structure.

Installing Steel Trusses:

Based on the design drawings, determine the installation positions of the steel trusses. Connect the steel trusses using angle steel connections, ensuring that the connection points are located at the positions of maximum stress.

Installation of Roof Panels and Wall Panels:

During the construction process of a steel structure workshop, it’s preferable to install roof panels before wall panels. This sequence is chosen because fixing the structure is more stable during roof panel installation. The typical construction sequence progresses from one end of the roof to the other.

Installation of Ventilators:

According to the design of the ventilators, install the inlet duct or exhaust duct and connect them to the inlet or outlet of the ventilators. Ensure that the ducts are tightly connected without any air leakage, allowing for effective air intake or exhaust.

Installation of Doors and Windows:

Based on the design of the doors and windows, the construction team should double-check the dimensions of the openings and the data of the doors and windows on site. Install the window frames first, followed by the window sashes, in the specified order.

Installation Acceptance:

After completing the installation of the steel structure, it is necessary to conduct acceptance work. This includes visual inspection of the steel structure, stability testing, load testing, etc., to ensure its safety and stability.


Inspection and Maintenance of Steel Structures:

Inspection and Maintenance of Steel Structures

Regular Inspection of Steel Structures:

Regularly inspect the exterior and interior of steel structures to check for cracks, deformations, corrosion, etc., ensuring the stability of the steel structure.

Surface Coating:

Regularly inspecting and reapplying anti-corrosion coatings on steel structures is an effective measure for surface corrosion protection, effectively prolonging the lifespan of steel structures.

Inspection of Connection Points:

Regularly inspect the connection points of steel structures, including bolts, nuts, and other fasteners. Loose fasteners or damaged welded joints may lead to structural instability. Promptly replace or repair any loose or damaged connections to maintain structural integrity.


Case Analysis


Beijing National Stadium

Beijing National Stadium

Also known as the Bird’s Nest, was one of the main venues for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. It’s currently the world’s largest steel structure building in terms of span, with a maximum span of 343 meters. The steel structure has a painted area of 284,000 square meters.

Shanghai Tower:

Shanghai Tower

One of the tallest steel structure buildings in the world, located at 501 Yincheng Middle Road in the Lujiazui financial and trade zone of Shanghai. It stands as a giant landmark skyscraper in Shanghai and is currently China’s tallest building and the third tallest building in the world.

The Eiffel Tower in Paris:

The Eiffel Tower in Paris

It’s a steel structure tower located on the Champ de Mars in Paris, France. Standing at 300 meters tall, with antennas reaching an additional 24 meters, it has a total height of 324 meters. The tower’s innovative and unique design makes it a technological masterpiece in architectural history, becoming an important landmark and prominent symbol of France and Paris.

Burj Al Arab Hotel:

Burj Al Arab Hotel

Also known as the “Dubai Sailboat Hotel,” it is widely regarded as the most luxurious hotel in the world. Situated in the United Arab Emirates, it is the world’s first 7-star hotel, located in Dubai, UAE, in the Middle East region.

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco:

The Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco

One of the world’s most famous bridges, the Golden Gate Bridge is a marvel of modern bridge engineering. It spans the Golden Gate Strait, which is over 1,900 meters wide, in California, USA.

Petronas Twin Towers:

Petronas Twin Towers

One of the iconic cityscapes in the capital of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, the Petronas Twin Towers are currently the world’s tallest twin buildings and are renowned as the tallest steel structure buildings globally.



Steel structures, with their superior performance and flexible design, play an irreplaceable role in the modern architecture and engineering fields, creating one marvel after another. As an advanced architectural system, the future prospects of steel structures will be even more extensive, driven by continuous technological advancements and societal needs.




What should be considered when using steel structures?

Steel structures require regular maintenance and upkeep, including inspections and applying anti-corrosion coatings.

What kind of foundation is needed before installing steel structures?  

Steel structures require a sturdy and level foundation to support their weight and load-bearing capacity. Common types of foundations include poured concrete foundations, reinforced concrete foundations, or steel pile foundations.

What tools are needed for installing steel structures?                           

The installation of steel structures mainly requires equipment such as cranes, welding machines, cutting machines, wrenches, hooks, and cables.

How often should steel structures be inspected?                                   

The inspection frequency of steel structure buildings should be determined based on the building’s usage and local requirements. Typically, it is recommended to conduct regular inspections every 3-5 years.

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