When it comes to construction, most planners, architects, contractors, and DIY enthusiasts have to choose between concrete or steel. While concrete does hold its own unique benefits for many projects, it simply lacks the versatility and strength of structural steel. The debate between steel concrete has long been a point of conflict for many professionals in the industry. Sanilac Steel may be biased, as our structural steel fabricators in Michigan have been working diligently to perfect the process and create outstanding outcomes for our customers since 1967. From ornamental metal work to steel erection and more, our steel fabrication company has the experience and know-how to help get your project done on time and on budget.

When it comes to choosing between concrete and steel structure designs, it’s important to know the benefits of each. Today, we will compare the two materials. When you’re ready, be sure to contact our steel company for a quote on your upcoming project!

Cost Advantages

The financial aspect tends to be the biggest deciding factor for any job. Concrete’s costs are often better than many people realize. This is because the materials used are readily found on excavation sites, and the supply equates to a steady pricing index. The long-term costs, however, begin to tell a different story. Concrete, for all its hardiness, will eventually begin to wear down and break apart. Ongoing repairs and maintenance services will add to the total sum needed to keep your structure running optimally.

Structural steel benefits from being very recyclable. When it comes to projected costs across an entire project, this fact can be helpful in that recycling materials helps to drastically cut those costs. It’s important to remember steel prices can vary based on national supplies and the current demand, but generally, structural steel comes out to cost less once all is said and done.


Concrete is composed of sand, aggregate, cement, and other miscellaneous ingredients to produce a strong, durable product. Modern techniques have helped to boast concrete’s recyclability, with some professionals stating that as much as half of the concrete being torn out and crushed to be re-used. 40 percent of concrete is not suitable for reuse and is therefore broken down for use in road base and other structural applications. Best case, a tenth of the concrete being torn out will end up in the landfill.

Steel, as we have previously mentioned, is very reusable. In fact, modern technology has helped to push the threshold to nearly 100 percent efficiency, with up to 85 percent of steel being suitable for repurposing at the end of its life cycle. The longevity of steel allows it to be modified numerous times with relatively zero impact on the structure’s integrity. Easy recycling transitions help to reduce the emissions produced from recycling steel as well, resulting in less CO2 in our environment and less energy wasted. The end result is a much cleaner planet with less waste being left in landfills across the nation.


Before setting, concrete has the advantage of being able to be molded into many different shapes. As long as you have the forms or pre-cast molds, any wet portland cement products you use can fill the space and harden over the course of eight hours. Certain limitations are present during the pour, including floor-to-floor construction and wide, continuous expanses. When poured across giant spans, the risk for cracking and shearing increases for concrete.

Structural steel has the benefit of holding an excellent strength-to-weight ratio that equates to builders being able to a lot more with much less. Architects and designers have a nearly endless number of design options for steel, as structural steel fabrication processes have become more efficient and advanced. From an aesthetic standpoint, steel can be fashioned into sleek, versatile designs. Concrete, on the other hand, has very limited options once the product has cured.

Material Strength

As a mixture, concrete is a strong material that holds superior compressive strength while also having low tensile or flex strength. Your typical city sidewalk, for example, is generally held to a minimum strength of 4,000 psi after 28 days. The minimal tensile strength can be improved by introducing rebar into the mix. Structural steel, on the other hand, is extremely strong and ductile, making it the perfect option for many applications. While steel is known to soften up with extreme temperatures, additives and coatings can be applied to greatly improve overall safety and strength.

When everything’s all tallied up, it’s easy to see how structural steel can prove to be a powerful building material for your project. With low maintenance costs and long-term durability, the possibilities of this metal are nearly endless. Sanilac Steel is here as your go-to structural steel fabricators in Michigan to deliver proven results in the safest, most efficient manner possible. Since 1967, our experts have created quality steel services with top-notch workmanship. Contact us today to learn more about our services or to receive a quote on your project!