7 Examples of Recycled Steel Building Materials to Use

Photographs of four different recycled steel building products. Clockwise from top left: recycled steel beams, recycled steel columns, recycled steel sheets, and recycled steel studs. Across the top of the image are the words "7 Examples of Recycled Steel Building Materials to Use." A cartoon image of a builder pointing to the article's title is in the lower center. He's wearing an orange hard hat and high-vis tabard.

Recycled steel is one of the leading sustainable building materials in use today.

Steel recycling promotes a circular economy that slows the use of natural resources, reduces greenhouse gas emissions, and conserves between 60 and 74% of steelmaking energy.

So, it’s a far more sustainable material to use in construction than virgin steel, but what are some examples of recycled steel building materials to use in your next project?

Beams, columns, sheets, and studs are examples of recycled steel building materials you could utilize in your projects. Recycled steel is just as strong and durable as new steel made from iron ore, so these materials have high tensile strength and durability, guaranteeing value for your money.

In this article, I’ll discuss some examples of recycled steel building materials commonly used in the industry. I’ll cover the uses of each product in construction and their benefits to help you choose wisely. Keep reading!

7 Common Recycled Steel Building Materials

As the world grapples with the devastating effects of climate change and habitat loss, the construction industry is making strides to reduce its adverse environmental impact. Among the steps being taken is shifting to green building materials like recycled steel.

Virgin steel significantly contributes to environmental degradation, greenhouse gas emissions, and excessive energy consumption. So, to reduce the impact of structural and other uses of steel in your project, shift to the following recycled steel building materials:

1. Recycled Steel Beams

Four recycled steel beams are stacked next to each other on the ground.
Steel beams are commonly made from recycled steel, requiring much less energy than virgin steel made from iron ore.

Beams are essential in many construction projects. They prevent overloading concrete slabs by supporting the walls and reinforce columns by ensuring sufficient distribution of the bending force, maintaining the structural integrity of columns.

Steel is the primary material used to make construction beams, and recycled steel beams are excellent at providing structural support for a building, thanks to the fact that recycled steel retains its physical properties even when recycled multiple times.

You can even reuse steel beams from one project without remelting and reprocessing if they are the right specification and can be demounted safely without damaging them – so-called salvaged steel.

Reusing steel members in this way can save you money that would otherwise go into transporting the material to the recycling facility, not to mention the energy saving from avoiding the need to remelt the steel to recycle it, which further reduces the carbon footprint of salvaged steel.

2. Recycled Steel Columns

A series of blue recycled steel columns on a concrete slab during construction of a building.
Steel columns are a common sight on building sites, especially for industrial buildings.

Columns are vital to a building’s stability. These structural components transmit loads from a building’s slabs (including the roof and upper floors) to the foundation and, thus, the ground beneath. Therefore, they must be as strong as possible to withstand compressive and deformation forces from vertical loads.

Recycled steel makes some of the strongest columns. With tensile strength ranging from 1,000 to over 1,600 MPa, recycled steel makes high-strength columns to withstand deformation and compressive forces.

Excellent tensile strength means recycled steel columns will help to ensure your structure’s integrity and safety. The material’s outstanding durability guarantees value for money since the building will last longer, saving you from costly repairs and new constructions.

3. Recycled Steel Sheets

Sheets of recycled steel siding are stacked flat on each other on a warehouse floor.
Recycled steel sheets are often used as siding or roofing materials.

Sheets are essential for roofing and siding applications. Construction sheets are made from different materials, including steel, asbestos, asphalt, and even plastic.

Steel is light, durable, and versatile, making it excellent for building sheets. Its lightweight nature lets you lift it to a given height without relying on heavy machinery.

Moreover, its versatility makes it easy to work with — you can shape it into different forms to fit your space and aesthetics.

Compared to virgin steel, recycled steel sheets are much more eco-friendly materials that help mitigate the construction industry’s adverse environmental effects.

Besides, recycled steel sheets are highly weatherproof. They withstand heavy rains, wind, fire, and snow. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about water leaking into your house due to ineffective or easily damaged roofing sheets.

4. Recycled Steel Studs

Recycled steel studs form a wall on a construction site. Only the studs have been built, and the drywall is yet to be installed. A similar stud wall can be seen in the background, but that one is made from timber and has fiberglass insulation fitted between the studs.
In the picture, recycled steel studs are used to form internal non-load-bearing walls.

Studs are crucial construction components that are used to form walls. Depending on their design, they are capable of distributing vertical structural loads but are also ideal for non-load-bearing sections like partition walls.

Studs are also essential for holding together the following components:

  • Doors
  • Windows
  • Interior finishes
  • Insulation
  • Exterior sheathing or siding
  • Utilities
  • Insulation

Recycled steel studs are lightweight, durable, and easy to work with. Furthermore, they’re resistant to mold, rot, and termite damage. Therefore, using them in your construction will serve you longer, saving you money.

5. Recycled Steel Reinforcement Bars (Rebar)

Rebar mounted in formwork ready for concrete to be poured.
Rebar mounted in formwork ready for concrete to be poured.

Rebar (or rebars) is another very common recycled steel building material to use in your sustainable construction project.

Rebar is crucial in reinforced concrete structures and provides tensile strength to a structure that complements the concrete’s excellent compressive strength.

By reinforcing concrete with high-tensile-strength steel, recycled steel reinforcement bars strengthen the building enough to withstand bending, tensile, shearing, and torsion loads.

In a nutshell, you need rebar to create sturdy columns, foundations, and other structural elements formed using concrete.

6. Recycled Steel Mesh

A stack of recycled steel mesh laid flat. The mesh is of the sort typically used for the reinforcement of concrete slabs.
This recycled steel mesh is of the sort typically used for the reinforcement of concrete slabs.

Mesh creates firm foundations for concrete by providing the necessary reinforcement, without which the structural integrity of the building could be compromised.

The mesh is placed within the formwork before the concrete is poured to form a reinforced concrete slab. The steel mesh firmly adheres to the reinforcement mesh as it sets, creating a stronger foundation that can withstand higher tensile forces thanks to the steel’s high tensile strength.

Building with recycled steel mesh contributes to your sustainability goals by avoiding using virgin steel and will enhance the project’s strength and durability.

7. Recycled Steel Trusses

Recycled steel trusses have been painted red and form the roof of a large building.
Recycled steel trusses afford great strength to the roof of a large building such as this one.

Recycled steel trusses support a roof by transferring the load to the walls and columns. Because they make longer spans possible, they offer design flexibility, cost efficiency, and durability.

Recycled steel trusses are lighter and easier to work with than their wooden counterparts. They will also help minimize deforestation and save the energy of making primary steel trusses because making recycled steel uses much less energy than virgin steel production.

The table below summarizes the seven examples of recycled steel building materials and their uses:

Recycled Steel Building MaterialUses
BeamsSupporting the wallsPreventing concrete slab overload
ColumnsSupporting arches and beams
StudsCreating wall structuresCommonly non-load bearing partitions
RebarIncreasing concrete’s tensile strength
MeshCreating firm foundations for concrete
TrussesSupporting the roof

Table 1: Recycled steel building materials and their uses

What Are the Benefits of Using Recycled Steel in Construction?

A steel-framed building is under construction. The steel members form load-bearing walls and the roof deck. In the lower left of the image is a red speech bubble that says "Benefits."
Steel members create exceptional strength in steel-framed buildings.

The benefits of using recycled steel in construction include:

  • Energy conservation: Building with recycled steel saves between 60 and 74% of the energy used to produce primary steel.
  • Durability and strength: Steel retains its structural properties after being recycled. Therefore, it has excellent tensile strength, just like its virgin counterpart, and provides excellent durability for any structure.
  • Waste reduction: Building with recycled steel reduces the amount of construction and demolition waste that gets into landfills, lowering pollution. For instance, recycling a ton (2,000 lb) of steel diverts approximately 1.28 tons (2,560 lb) of C&D waste from landfills.
  • Natural resource conservation: Recycling steel conserves natural resources like iron ore and coal that go into virgin steel production.
  • Design flexibility: Recycled steel is highly versatile; thus, it can be shaped into different forms to fit almost any construction requirement. Consequently, it guarantees design flexibility for engineers, architects, and builders.
  • Green building certification: Using recycled steel in construction contributes to earning points toward green building certifications like LEED. Such certifications often increase a home’s value.

Final Thoughts

It’s our responsibility to conserve the environment by reducing the environmental footprint of our construction projects. Shifting to eco-friendly materials like recycled steel is one of the ways to achieve that.

Now that you’ve seen these examples of recycled steel building materials, choose some that suit your construction project and start building.

Using these materials will ensure you play a crucial role in environmental conservation while building a strong house.

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *