Image of Steel Columns for a Construction Project

Types of Steel Columns Ideal for Building Projects

Steel has been used in construction for centuries. Offering impressive material and tensile strength, steel is capable of holding massive amounts of weight and stress when properly configured. One of the most important uses of steel in construction is structural support. That’s where steel columns often play an important role. 
Offering vertical support, columns are often an integral and necessary component in building construction. They’re often used to support the walls, roofs, and levels of buildings in everything from residential to commercial construction. 
Steel column design can vary widely depending on their intended use, needed strength, and other factors. There are a number of steel column types that can be used in construction depending on the needs that they fit. These can range from I beams and H beams all the way to hollow pipe columns, versatile box columns,  and even composite concrete-steel columns that offer the strengths of both concrete and steel. 
The types of steel beams and steel column specifications used in a particular project may hinge on the needs of the project. Since different types of steel columns can offer distinct benefits and advantages, which is best for a project often depends on the goals you hope to meet. To better understand, let’s explore some of the kinds of steel columns that might be used for building purposes, what each might offer, and what they might be used for. 

Image of steel columns for building purposesImage of steel columns for building purposes

Steel Columns H-Beams 

H-beams are one of the most common types of structural steel columns used in buildings. In fact, universal columns (UC), used for general purposes in a wide range of building projects, are one of the most prevalent examples of H beams. While universal columns are a highly standardized and widely used type of H-beam, there are a number of other H-beams that might be used in buildings as well. 
Their distinctive shape is what gives them both their name and their strength. With an H-shaped cross-section, H beams are characterized by their distinctive thick flanges, which provide them with a high degree of strength against bending or twisting. 

Steel Columns I-Beams 

Similarly to H-beams, I-beams derive their name from their shape. With distinctive flanges — similar to, but often thinner than, those found on H-beams, I-beams appear as an I shape in their cross-section. Similar to H-beams, I-beams’ shape affords them a great deal of strength against bending or twisting. However, they’re distinguished by their typically thinner flanges and webs. 
While I-beams may not always offer as much strength as H-beams, their shape nonetheless provides them with a great deal of strength against flexing and bending. They’re often used in applications where strength is important and so is efficiency. I-Beams can be constructed using less material than H-beams of comparable size, making them a sometimes ideal option for projects that require careful use of materials. 

Pipe Columns 

Steel pipe columns are used in a wide range of building applications and can vary greatly in size and configuration. Their name is apt and accurately reflects their appearance — they’re cylindrical, like a pipe, and often hollow. 
Pipe columns are often used in residential projects, where they offer an efficient way to provide structural support. They can vary in size, from a few inches in diameter to multiple feet in diameter, depending on their intended application, and can be used in everything from supporting parking spot roofs to supporting frameworks in very large buildings. 
They can be used in a wide range of use cases, from building bridges to constructing cell towers, and their strength and versatility make them a viable option in a vast range of project types. Due to their cylindrical configuration, they often offer high resistance to buckling under their vertical loads. 

Box Columns 

Box columns are another common type of steel support column used in buildings. Aptly named, box columns can certainly be thought to resemble boxes. Typically in a cuboid configuration consisting of at least 4 steel panels that can be welded together, box columns make up a versatile support option. 
They can be left hollow, offering a high degree of vertical support, and they also may be filled with materials such as concrete for added reinforcement and strength. Providing two-directional stiffening support, box columns are also highly rigid and effective in resisting bending forces. 
There are a number of use cases in which box columns are a suitable choice. They offer a streamlined aesthetic value, making them suitable in architectural projects where exposed I or H beams aren’t conducive to the desired look. Additionally, they’re suitable for use in situations where utilizing their interior space is helpful — such as wiring or running air ducts. 

Steel - Concrete Composite Columns 

Steel-concrete composite columns are those which combine the strengths of steel and concrete. They can be made in a wide range of configurations, such as concrete-filled box columns, concrete-encased flanged steel columns, and flanged steel columns secured to slabs with connectors. 
Steel and concrete composite columns offer strengths from both materials — the tensile strength and flexibility of steel and the compressive strength of concrete. They can be particularly useful in applications where these strengths are key, and they also can offer a high degree of fire resistance, which is often crucial in construction. 
Steel concrete composite columns can be used in many cases where fire resistance, support strength, and aesthetics are all important considerations. As such, they might be used in high-rise buildings, areas prone to seismic disturbances, and more. 

Consider the Needs of Your Project for Steel Columns 

As you embark on the journey of selecting steel columns for your construction project, it's imperative to tailor your choices to the unique needs and specifications of the endeavor. The decision-making process involves a thorough evaluation of various factors that can significantly impact the structural integrity, efficiency, and overall success of your construction. the ideal steel column choice for your construction project is an outcome of a meticulous analysis of various project-specific factors. By considering load-bearing requirements, architectural aesthetics, space utilization, material efficiency, environmental impact, fire resistance, seismic considerations, and budget constraints, you can tailor your choice to align with the unique needs of your endeavor. 
Remember, if you’re looking for high-quality building materials and construction supplies, at Deslauriers, we carry a wide selection of products to suit a wide range of needs — including steel column forms and forming accessories. To learn more or get started, be sure to see our selection today.