Common Misconceptions of Structural Glass and Steel Design

Common Misconceptions of Structural Glass and Steel Design

Steel and glass are undoubtedly the leading building construction materials. However, there are some misconceptions surrounding their use, from the cost to maintenance.

1. Glass and Steel Have a High Material Cost

Cost is a major factor to consider when choosing a structural material, especially now that the cost of materials in the industry is rising. However, the cost is a major misconception when purchasing structural glass and steel.

Numerous factors determine the cost of glass or steel. These factors include the module height and width, thickness of glass or steel, the backup structure, and many more. The quality of glass and steel can also determine the final cost, considering that both materials come in different sizes, shapes, and shades.

Before the project starts, your structural engineer will assess the size of your project and understand your personal needs to give you the ideal cost estimate. The best way to beat the cost misconceptions is to understand what’s in the market and create a budget.

From Skylights to Atriums, all of Novum’s structural steel and glass projects come with accurate budgeting information at the start of your project. Our in-house engineering, fabrication, and installation services position us to track the cost of materials in real-time. In addition, our team’s collaboration through each phase of your project enables us to keep the cost within your budget. 

Portside Pier Architecturally Exposed Steel Glass Atrium

2. All Glass and Metal Building Construction Materials are the Same

One of the main misconceptions in the structural design industry is that all glass and steel architecture materials are the same. In essence, yes, because both steel and glass materials act as enclosures to protect the interior of a building against harsh weather.

However, the truth is that each of these two materials comes in a wide array of options, and these options have different properties.

Structural Steel Fabrication

For instance, there are different grades of stainless steel, and they can be generally divided into categories: austenitic, martensitic, ferritic, duplex, and precipitation hardening (PH). These categories have different qualities, such as greater or less resistance to corrosion. For example, austenitic types usually have a higher corrosion resistance due to more chromium in the material.

There is another stainless-steel type that has high corrosion resistance, as well as more tensile strength than austenitic types: duplex stainless steel. They are named duplex for their half austenitic and half ferritic composition. These steels are especially resistant to chloride pitting.

Of these steel types, as well, some of them harden with heat treatment whereas others harden during manufacturing and formation. Austenitic steel types, for example, cannot harden with heat treatment, while martensitic types can, and the relative achievable hardness depends on carbon content. The more carbon, the harder martensitic types can get.

Structural Glass Fabrication

Glass as a construction material comes in many types, including heat-strengthened glass, toughened glass, laminated glass, and more.

When you have a project, it is essential to review the available options of glass and steel to choose the best for your needs. Even though the materials may look similar and serve the same functions, there are many differences in the ingredients and properties. For example, laminated glass is very effective for building construction. Laminated glass is usually manufactured with two normal glass plies bonded together with interlayers. This bonding creates a thicker glass that is more durable.

We highly recommend that you understand the different glass or stainless-steel types to choose the most suitable for your structural needs. Novum’s in-house team of experts will guide you through this process every step of the way.

Hayward 21st Century Library Cable Wall, Steel T Walls, and a Canopy - Novum's Pointed Glass System

3. Structural Glass and Steel Are Hard To Clean

Cleaning is essential when it comes to glass and steel maintenance. However, both materials are easy to clean and maintain. Steel, for instance, is one of the simplest materials to clean, and that’s why it’s known as ‘stainless’ steel.

Different glass and steel types may require varying cleaning measures, but both materials are not difficult to maintain. If you look forward to incorporating steel or glass in your next project, Novum’s in-house experts can help you understand the cleaning and maintenance requirements.

4. Structural Steel Is Unattractive

Fact: Structural steel is one of the most versatile and flexible materials in the construction industry. Since the material is malleable, you can easily mold it into unique shapes based on your needs. In addition, we can paint the stainless-steel material with any color of your choice to make it more aesthetically pleasing.

Most of the famous buildings in the world are made of stainless steel. Good examples include Burj Khalifa and the Eiffel Tower Empire State Building. So, it is a myth that stainless steel is an unattractive structural material.

You can also use steel alongside other materials such as glass and wood, enhancing the overall appearance of your building or structure.

5. Steel and Glass Architecture is not Strong and is Limited in Design Options

A common misconception about steel and glass in construction is that the materials are not sturdy enough and break or collapse easily.

Glass as a construction material is strengthened by adding laminates and admixtures. Some types of glass are thick and heavy with high resistance to harsh external conditions.

If you are worried about steel and glass structure strength, you can always go for the exact types of glass used in building construction. In addition, you can use it alongside other structural materials to make your building stronger and more durable.

6. Glass and Steel Are Not Recyclable

Stainless steel is made of different alloys which are 100% recyclable. On the other hand, any type of glass can be 100% recycled. So, it’s a myth that glass and steel are not recyclable. You can always use the materials for other purposes to protect the environment and save on overall costs.

FAQs about Structural Glass and Steel

  • How Is Glass Used In Building Construction?

Glass is widely used in building construction as a cladding material, insulation material, glazing component, and structural element.

  • Is Steel Good For Construction? 

Yes, steel is a cost-effective and durable construction material. It’s also highly flexible, meaning that you can mold it to different shapes and designs.

  • Why Is Glass A Good Option In Construction?

Glass transmits almost 80% of natural light, so glass is popular in architectural design. In addition, glass is water-resistant, rust-resistant, economical, and safe from electric hazards.

  • Where Is Steel Used In Construction?

Steel can be used as roofing material or as a raw material for steel frames in construction.

  • What Is The Strongest Glass? 

Tempered or toughened glass is the strongest, and that’s why it is used in areas that demand the most safety. Laminated and plate glass are durable as well.

Do you have any more questions related to structural steel and glass? If yes, don’t hesitate to contact Novum Structures to discuss the needs of your project today.

Novum offers the complete engineering, fabrication, and installation of structural steel and glass. We have engineered and furnished thousands of projects and can help you achieve your design intent while creating a budget very early in the design phase. No project is too small or too big for our sales, engineering, and preconstruction teams to collaborate.

Reach out to our team to get started.