Tackling Common Structural Steel Problems

Structural steel is one of the most widely used materials in the construction industry and its benefits are well-known to industry experts. But is it the right choice for your construction project?

Like other building materials, structural steel has its drawbacks, which you should look into before using it on your project. The good news is that steps can be taken to minimize the impact of these drawbacks on your project, improving project outcomes.

Here are some common structural steel problems and their solutions.


Since it is an alloy of iron, steel catches rust when exposed to moisture or oxygen. The rust typically has a flaky, reddish-brown appearance that worsens over time, causing the substrate metal to degrade.

Corrosion protection is necessary to keep structural steel components from rusting. During this process, your fabrication company may use different methods to protect structural steelwork from rust damage. These methods include:

  • Wet painting — liquid paint is mixed and painted over the surface of steel components to provide a protective coating for improved performance and durability. 
  • Powder coating — a free-flowing, dry powder is applied electrostatically and then cured under high heat conditions to add a rust-proofing coating to the substrate steel.
  • Hot-dip galvanizing — steel is immersed in a bath of hot, molten zinc to preserve the underlying steel.
  • Thermal spraying — heated or molten globules (metallic or non-metallic) are sprayed over the surface of the steel to improve its thermal, wear, and corrosion resistance.
  • Electroplating — a more corrosion-resistant metal, such as gold, silver, chromium, copper, or nickel is deposited to the surface of the steel to prevent rusting.

The appropriate corrosion prevention method for fabricated structural steel products depends on their intended applications. For example, powder-coating is an excellent way to give steel fences and gates the decorative and durable finishes needed to increase curb appeal and secure properties.


While steel structures are known for their high tensile and compressive strengths, they can get fatigued over time. Their behavior in tension depends primarily on the strength of the material. 

On the other hand, the behavior of steel in compression is affected by its slender design, which increases the risk of buckling.

An improved design method is essential for preventing the buckling of steel structures. In general, the problem can be avoided by using heavier and stockier pieces of steel that are more resistant to buckling.

Strengthening techniques, such as adding stiffeners to bridge plate girders, may be used to prevent the local buckling of structural steel elements.

Structural steel fabricators understand that every project is unique and requires a tailored approach to execute safely and efficiently. Contact one today to discuss your project-specific requirements and get your free quote.