Steel decks are an efficient way to create floors or ceilings – using long, ribbed steel panels (usually galvanized, to avoid any corrosion) that span between two beams. The panels are usually up to 6m long.
They often are used in a “hybrid” way, combined with a relatively concrete layer on top. The concrete then provides thermal mass and acoustic insulation – it’s just a clean, fast and efficient alternative for “normal” concrete floors.
Steel deck is a smart building system:
faster than normal concrete slabs, as no forms are necessary
lighter than normal concrete slabs
can immediately take some load and provide shelter
can be combined with other building systems
can use concrete for thermal mass or insulation
clean underside – some like to leave it exposed for modern interiors
Limitations of steel deck construction
although simple, may need specialized labor
needs other building systems for thermal mass, sound insulation, thermal insulation
Traditional steel frame construction uses thick and strong posts and beams (usually with I- or H-shapes) to create the structure of the building.
It is extremely strong for its weight and resists very well to traction. Thus it allows for spectacular cantilevered constructions. Building is very fast but requires cranes and (usually) welders.
However, steel by itself is very bad for insulation. So it must be combined with other materials like SIPS panels for the hull of the building.
Steel frame is often associated with large buildings, but has been used for residential buildings since the 50’s – starting with notorious mid-century modernists and the famous “case study houses”.
Some like the honesty of the material and like to keep it visible in the house, while others hide the posts and beams inside the walls and floors.
Steel frame is a smart building system:
extremely strong for its weight
allows for large overhangs and cantilevers
can be prefabricated
can be combined with almost any other building material for the hull
Limitations of Steel Frame
requires cranes and specialized labor
conducts heat/cold to the inside if not insulated
will contract/expand at different rates than other materials when the temperature changes, so precautions must be taken to avoid cracks (or make sure the steel frame is protected inside a well-insulated hull)
limited flexibility to make manual adaptations on-site