Steel frame buildings are also known as the skeleton structure of steel beams and columns welded and bolted together in different shapes. Steel frame structures have many applications. Some of them are industrial and residential buildings. Through steel framing, it has become possible to prepare the roofing system, wall system and flooring system later.

Prefabricated steel frame buildings ultimately maintain internal and external strength for a long time. The unique thing is, we can use steel frame structures for warehouses, offices, housing complexes etc. Based on utilization, steel frame buildings are of various types. Some of them are as follows.

Different Types of Steel Frame Structures

There are various types of steel frame buildings getting popularized in the industry. The two types of steel frame structure include rigid frame and braced-frame.
The rigid steel frame structure has two types: fixed-ended and Pin-ended. On the other hand, the braced steel frame is also available in two types as Gable frame and Steel portal frame.
The steel frame buildings use a horizontal and vertical arrangement of steel that makes them ultra strong to hold loads. Most of the time, builders prefer steel framing because it offers exceptional strength against movements.
Coming to the topic, let us understand the steel frame structures in detail!

Types of steel frame structures

Rigid Steel Frame Structure

The rigid steel frame structure is also known as the Moment frame structure of vertical and horizontal steel. Its name itself defines that these steel frame buildings do not face the issue of bucklings.
It mainly performs well in the case of reinforced cement properties. Rigid frames do not consist of pinned points. Hence can not say how it will act against the unknown force.
However, rigid steel frame structure has a good reputation for load-bearing, whether vertical or sideways.
Rigid steel frame designs are famous for strength, stiffness and zero buckling.
Many approaches help solve stiffness concerns in rigid steel frames. Those approaches include:

  • Portal Structural Analysis Method
  • Force Structural Analysis Method
  • Slope Deflection Structural Analysis Method

Rigid Steel frame structures are available in two categories:

Fix Ended Rigid Frame Structure-: This type of steel framing comes with a fixed end structure.

Pin Ended Rigid Frame Structure-: This type of structure comes with pins on ends that makes it rigid.

Braced Steel Frame Structures

Braced steel frame structures consist of steel arranged vertically(columns) and horizontally(beams). Those beams and columns connect through braces at every joint to make it bear load easily.
It is not a complex frame and offers security against building collapse. So, horizontal and vertical bracing make it safe for steel frame buildings.
Various braces types are available in the market. It includes individual diagonal bracing, K-bracing, V-bracing etc. You may choose between them according to the need.
Braced steel framing is the best way to protect buildings from earth tremors, cyclones and other calamities. These frames perform better than rigid steel frame structures. Like Rigid steel frames, Braced steel frame structures also come in the following varieties.

Portal Frame-: Portal frames structure forms by supporting beams by columns. Being prepared by bracing every joint, the Portal frame can resist movements. Portal steel frame buildings mostly have commercial applications.

Gable Frame-: Gable steel frame structures somewhat look like triangular hut-like structures. It works best in areas where there remains a possibility of heavy snowfall and rain.

How to Choose a Cost-Effective Solution for Steel Frame Buildings Structure?

There are many cost-effective steel framing solutions, and some of them are following:

  • Simple structure braced-frames
  • Continuous construction braced frame
  • Sway frames(without bracing)

Simple Structure Braced-frames

These frames are highly cost-effective and easy to understand for non-complex construction. It is just an arrangement of steel columns and beams braced together.

  • It is easy to understand
  • Cost-efficient
  • Use light and small size columns and beams.
  • Require less attention
  • Suitable for all types of steel frame constructions.
  • Facilitate easy improvement.
  • Beams may cost high in some circumstances.
  • It is not a good option for small size construction as it may cost you the avoidable bracing cost.

Braced Frames with Continuous Construction

Builders use these frames when the structural design relies on the floor strength. These structures require the same attention as in simple construction brace frames.

  • Cost-efficient when floor strength determines the steel frame structure design.
  • Improved floor strength because of continuous bracing of beams and columns.
  • Simple construction brace frames are more cost-effective than continuous brace frame structures.
  • It comes with heavy columns that may not be feasible to withstand external forces.
  • You can not modify and enhance the columns and beams easily.

Sway Frames(without bracing)

This steel frame structure is most suitable for conditions where bracing is not possible due to building design. Hence it can use a mix of fixed and variable steel framing. It further helps to avoid the undue pressure of beams.

  • It is a cost economical option if you structure it properly.
  • It does not require braces to build remarkable architecture.
  • Semi-rigid steel frames may cost you high.
  • It is a complex steel structure.
  • You can not improve or modify columns and beams easily.

Advantages of Steel Frame Buildings


Steel frame buildings have many benefits compared to wood and concrete based buildings. Some of them are following:

More Strength and Longer-Life
Steel frame buildings offer more strength and stay for a long time. That is because of its lighter weight. Steel can endure more load in comparison to wood or concrete made structures. The use of steel framing reduces almost half of the structural weight.

Available in Various Shapes and Sizes
It is one of the best qualities of steel that it can turn into different shapes and cut down into various sizes. So it offers freedom to convert steel frame structures as per the load-bearing requirement.

Great Resistance against Fire
It offers protection against fire, making it a good option for steel frame houses. Not only this, steel frame buildings provide a secure environment to workers when used commercially. It reduces the risk factors and avoids fire spread in the factory. Steel alone can not resist fire hence comes with a fire protection coating.

Do not Need Pest-Control.
Steel frame structures are not prone to pest attacks. Further, it saves the cost of pest control. It is not possible for wood made structures. They especially need attention to protect from termites and other microorganisms.

Easily Bear all Weather Conditions
Steel framing comes with outstanding resistant quality for moisture in the atmosphere. It depends on the amount of carbon in it. It does not rust or corrode because it comes with a protective zinc coating.
So, it offers strength that suits all weather conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are different types of steel framing?

There are different types of steel framing available in the market. That includes fixed, variable, heavy and light steel framing.

Does Steel Frame Buildings Require Foundation?

Yes, Steel frame buildings require a foundation. Steel frame structures are usually more strong and offer security against tremors. It also reduces energy costs and supports steel frame buildings to go green.

What are the world-known examples of steel frame buildings?

  • Willis Tower, Chicago
  • Burj Khalifa, Dubai
  • Empire State Building, NewYork
  • The Brooklyn Bridge, New York
  • National Stadium, Beijing
  • Harbour Bridge, Sydney

What kind of buildings use steel frame construction?

Builder mainly use steel frame construction for

  • Midsize to tall sized buildings
  • Commercial steel frame buildings
  • Warehouses
  • Steel structure houses
  • Earthquake and disaster-resistant buildings.

What is the concern with a steel frame house?

Steel frame houses lack thermal and sound insulation. Apart from this, it is not an energy-efficient option.

What are the various types of steel frame structure designs?

There are various types of steel frame structure designs: Normal designs, Regular designs and Irregular designs.