When it comes to building you would always want to use the best products, whether it is a commercial or a residential construction choosing the right material is key.

Now, when looking at what would benefit your building better would it be cast Iron or Steel? Is one better than the other? What are their pros and cons?

All these questions but what are the answers.

Let’s examine both products and see where we would benefit the most.

The Difference

Firstly, is there any difference? does it really matter?

Steel has iron in it but due to the casting process steel has less carbon. The structural differences between iron and steel are enough to make a difference in how they are used in the construction industry they both are good for their jobs.

Iron is an element.

Used for centuries, we find cast iron in many heritage buildings in towns and cities today. The first textile mill to replace its wood frames with Cast Iron was The Flex Mill in Ditherington, Shrewsbury which is owned by English Heritage. The Earliest cast iron artefact was found in China dating back to the 5th Century BC, in the west cast iron was not available until 15th century earliest use includes cannons.

Cast iron has good compression strength, but its tensile strength is not good it is not suitable if a sharp edge or flexibility is needed.

We can read events where cast iron bridges had collapsed due to too much weight on the central beams. Lack of knowledge of this material at the time resulted in 5 deaths in 1847 at the Dee Bridge Disaster. Many similar bridges were rebuilt using wrought iron. A lesson learnt for the engineers at the time was cast iron was not best used for constructing bridges.

Cast iron enabled builders to construction tall complexes that allowed natural light through larger windows which masonry thick walls did not provide. This was much appreciated at the time and is still valued in SoHo, lower Manhattan, New York were many cast iron building are still in use.

Steel is an alloy, made up of Iron and carbon.

What is an alloy? An alloy is a mixture of two or more elements with one being a metal (e.g. iron) to make a new material.

In the 14th Century, a refined cast iron product was made, this was known as Pig Iron. Further refinements created the product we know as steel. You will find steel in many building, machines, vehicles, tools and others.

Buildings you may know that are made from steel are

  • Willis Tower, Chicago
  • Brooklyn Bridge, New York
  • Burj Khalifa, Dubai
  • And many more.

Steel has good tensile and compression making its overall strength ideal for large construction projects. Due to this and its low-cost many contractors use this in construction and engineering.

The results 

Looking at just a small amount of information it is easy to see why it can be hard to decide what would be best for your projects.

So, in conclusion, if you are wanting a tall building that will need major floor strength, Steel is the way to go, with its good compression and tensile strength you will not have to worry about your flooring giving way and you can go as tall as you are able.

This material is a top amongst its competition.

But this is not to say cast iron is booted out the door, the use of this hardened material is still a cornerstone in its field, with its compression strength height is not a problem. When used in the correct field cast iron is a champion.

The test of time is on this materials side as we only need to look around our towns and cities to see buildings with cast iron pillars and girders throughout still standing strong.

More buildings today are erected with steel and time will tell if this resource can keep standing like its contemporary.


More information

Difference Between Iron and Steel | Difference Between | Iron vs Steel 

Dee Bridge Disaster, Steel, Cast Iron