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Four Ways HSS Can Save You Money

on June 21, 2012

A key goal in every construction project is to keep costs down. Build the best possible building at the lowest price possible. In a difficult economy, cost savings becomes even more crucial.

As I discussed in a previous post, the use of steel hollow structural sections (HSS) offers substantial advantages in building design, opening up aesthetic possibilities. Today, I want to talk about how the use of HSS reduces your overall project cost.

There are four major areas in which HSS will deliver savings for your project, compared to wide-flange beams:

1. Savings on Steel

Depending on the application, HSS can produce significant weight savings. This is especially true for tall columns with long, unbraced lengths. Because of the efficiency of a closed section, it takes less steel area to support a given load over an open section. Convince yourself: Look in the AISC Steel Construction Manual at the Column Load Tables. Pick a long KL and compare the allowable load and weight savings among several steel cross-sectioned. You’ll see that the amount of steel you need is substantially reduced, translating directly into savings on material costs.

2. Savings on Cranes

Lower weight means erectors can use lighter-weight, lower cost cranes.

3. Savings on Finishing

Since HSS have 33 to 50 percent less surface area to finish, you’ll save money on paint, fireproofing material and labor.

4. Savings in Composite Construction

Composite construction is becoming more popular. When you use concrete-filled HSS columns, typically reinforcing bars are not required for strength. Concrete-filled HSS can achieve an unprotected fire rating, which may allow you to reduce your fireproofing costs. Compared to concrete-encased wide-flange sections, concrete-filled HSS are more cost-effective, since there’s no requirement for forming the concrete encasement. The HSS act as the form. This translates to savings on site labor and material.

HSS provide heightened aesthetic flexibility along with significant cost savings. They change the game for architects, engineers and contractors. But they’re greatly under-utilized in the U.S. construction market. If you’re not leveraging the advantages of HSS in your projects, I encourage you to learn more now.