Pros and Cons: Concrete Buildings Vs. Pre-Engineered Steel Buildings

Pros and Cons: Concrete Buildings Vs. Pre-Engineered Steel Buildings

Metal Structure Concepts did the concrete work, erection, and all interior office framing and finishing for a pre-engineered steel building for Melcor Development.

Steel and concrete are two buildings materials that work together as well as on their own for a variety of commercial and industrial applications. We examine their symbiotic relationship, their differences, as well as the pros and cons of concrete buildings and pre-engineered steel buildings so that you can make the right choice for your project.


How Steel and Concrete Work Together

Cement and steel typically work together when it comes down to the structural foundation of a steel building. Reinforced concrete is when steel, generally in the form of rods, bars, or mesh, is embedded in concrete. This composite material is noted for its strength and for being more resistant to stresses caused by wind, vibrations, earthquakes, and other forces. Concrete buildings also use metal forms, which hold the concrete in place while it dries and cures.


The Difference Between Concrete and Steel Building Frame Construction

While reinforced and poured concrete is typically used in the framing of a cement building, pre-engineered metal buildings are factory-built, with the steel beams, columns, panels, and parts shipped and then bolted together on the building site.


Pros and Cons:

Strength, Durability, and Design Flexibility:

The benefits of building with steel typically outweigh concrete because of steel’s tensile strength, higher weight ratio, durability, and versatility.

Pre-engineered buildings made from steel also allow for greater design flexibility, including: 

  • Clear span, column-free frames
  • Hindrance-free expansions
  • Quicker project turn-around
  • Fewer subcontractors and lower labour costs (no cement mixers, pourers)
  • Less waste and mess



While it requires energy to produce both steel and concrete, they are considered to be sustainable materials. Concrete’s composition includes reusable and recycled aggregate materials such as cement, sand, and gravel that can be pulverized, creating very little waste. Steel is not only durable; it can be infinitely recycled to make new products.


Fire and Water Resistance:

Both steel and concrete offer natural fire resistance. However, steel’s strength can be compromised when exposed to extreme temperatures and is why all commercial steel building parts and panels come with fire-resistant coatings. Also, cured concrete does not provide as much moisture protection as water-resistant paints and seals used on steel parts. 



While the value of steel can fluctuate depending on the market, metal building prices tend to be more economical overall than cement due to their more versatile design flexibility, lower maintenance costs, and faster occupancy.


Looking to build a metal garage or steel warehouse? Read The Science Behind Metal Buildings: What Makes Steel So Special.


Metal Structure Concepts is the leading supplier and installer of pre-engineered steel buildings in Western Canada. Our team of designers and installers are renowned for providing value-added service, quality craftsmanship, and competitive and economical steel building rates for a variety of projects.