Concrete vs. Steel Stairs: What Are The Differences?
Building a staircase is a unique and essential part of any project. Deciding between concrete or steel for your stairs can be challenging since both materials have specific advantages and disadvantages.
A recent study showed that at least 24 million patients between 1990 and 2012 were treated in emergency departments due to stair-related injuries. That’s why it’s crucial to have a well-designed staircase made of suitable material in line with its location.
In this article, you’ll be able to explore the benefits of each material so that you can make an informed decision about which one is right for your project.
When choosing between concrete and steel stairs, it’s essential to consider the specific needs of your project. While steel provides greater strength with less weight than concrete, it may need more individuality in design than its heavier counterpart.
On the other hand, concrete offers unlimited customization options but requires more labor-intensive installation methods due to its weight and size.
Both materials have their distinct features that must be taken into account when making the final decision on which type of stairway will best meet the demands of your particular project. Keep reading to determine what factors should be considered before deciding whether concrete or steel stairs suit your project.
Which is more durable and long-lasting?
Concrete stairs are unbeatable when it comes to durability and longevity. They are incredibly strong and long lasting, making them an excellent choice for high-foot-traffic areas. Steel stairs have their strengths but don’t measure up in terms of long-term performance.
Additionally, commercial concrete stairs are fire-resistant, which makes them a good choice for safety-sensitive applications, such as public buildings or industrial settings. Furthermore, their cost-effectiveness means you get excellent value when installing them.
In contrast, steel stair installation can take much longer than other materials due to the need to weld components on-site. As such, they may not always be the most economical option if time is an essential factor.
Which is more sustainable?
Regarding sustainability, concrete and steel stairs have their own pros and cons. The environmental impact of each material should be considered when deciding which one is best for you. Both materials can play a role in reducing your carbon footprint, but there are several key differences between the two that could affect your decision:
Low embodied energy:
Concrete has a low embodied energy compared to other building materials, such as wood or metal. It means that fewer resources are used during its production and transportation process. Concrete is made from natural ingredients like sand and water, so it’s easier on the environment than synthetic options.
Concrete stairs provide excellent slip resistance due to their rough texture, making them ideal for high-traffic areas where safety is essential.
Reusability and durability:
Steel stairs can easily be reused over time because they won’t rust with age or exposure to weather conditions. They also require less maintenance than other stair materials since they don’t need to be refinished or replaced as often. Plus, steel offers superior durability compared to concrete steps due to its strength against impacts and wear and tear over long periods.
Eco-friendly production process:
Steel manufacturing processes use far fewer resources than many other construction materials, making them much more eco-friendly overall. Most modern steel products are now mostly recycled content. So, they’re made using scrap metal instead of new raw materials, reducing waste while preserving natural resources at the same time.
Although both concrete and steel offer sustainable benefits depending on the project’s needs, it’s vital to consider how each will fit into your specific space before committing to either option. With careful consideration of these factors, you’ll find an option perfect for your project.
Which is more affordable?
When it comes to cost, concrete and steel stairs have distinct differences. Concrete stairs can be more expensive due to the labor costs associated with pouring and finishing the material. However, they are generally cheaper in the long run since they last longer than other materials.
Unlike concrete stairs, steel stairs require a lot of welding, making them much more costly upfront. If you’re looking for an inexpensive option, steel may be your best bet. On top of that, there may be additional costs depending on the type of stair finish chosen, such as carpeting or tiling.
Regarding installation time frames, both materials will typically take around two weeks, but concrete might take slightly longer because it needs to cure properly before use. The choice between these materials ultimately depends on budget and desired longevity when considering affordability factors.
Which is easier to maintain?
Generally speaking, concrete stairs are more durable and require less maintenance than steel stairs. It’s because concrete does not corrode or rust like steel can over time. Concrete also resists damage from moisture better than steel, making it an excellent option for outdoor staircases in wet climates.
In addition, any cracks or chips in concrete can be easily repaired by doing some quick patchwork or applying a new coat of paint. Unlike concrete stairs, steel ones may require more frequent upkeep since they are prone to corrosion and wear and tear over time.
Rusting is especially common when exposed to humidity or water, so regular inspection and maintenance will need to be done for them to remain safe and functional. If any noticeable damage is present, then repairs will likely have to be made using special tools and techniques, such as welding or sandblasting.
To ensure that your steel stairs remain in tip-top condition, you should consider regularly painting them too. Repainting them helps prevent further oxidation from occurring.
When choosing between concrete and steel stairs for your project, there are several factors to consider. Concrete is more affordable and can be customized in various ways, but it’s not as durable as steel. Steel is more expensive but lasts longer.
Ultimately, each material has advantages and disadvantages you will want to weigh before deciding on the best option for your needs. If cost is an important factor, then concrete might make sense. However, if long-term durability is essential, steel should be considered. It’s up to you to decide which type of stairway best fits the purpose of your project.
Scott Mendoza is a construction consultant with more than 10 years of experience. He likes to share his expertise through blogs and webinars. During his free time, he goes golfing and binge-watches TV series.