Steel is a versatile, popular material used in the construction of everything from skyscrapers to housing. Steel beams are composed mostly of iron with some alloying elements. Two types of steel beams exist: cast iron and wrought iron beams. Cast iron beams are made by pouring molten iron into a mold and are strong in compression but brittle. Wrought iron beams are made by forming heated iron and are strong in tension.
Steel has a very high strength-to-weight ratio. This means that a steel beam of a given mass is capable of resisting much higher stresses without fracture than an equivalent mass of wood or stone.
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Resistance to Corrosion
Steel can be manufactured in such a way as to be extremely resistant to rust and corrosion. Stainless steel is a mix of steel and chromium. Unlike wood, steel does not rot. Steel beams thus have a much longer life expectancy.
Steel costs very little compared with other metals like aluminum or titanium. This, combined with its other mechanical and chemical attributes, contributes significantly to the popularity of steel beams as a construction material.