Choosing Between Light Steel Structure and Heavy Steel Structure

Classification:Industry News

Release time:2023-08-10 09:41

When designing commercial, industrial or agricultural buildings, structurally assessing the viability of light versus heavy steel solutions is an important early decision. Both options utilize the inherent strength and versatility of structural steel, but with differing structural extents depending on functional needs and loading demands. This article outlines key factors for owners and design teams like Lida Group contractors to consider when evaluating which steel structure type best suits their project requirements.

Loading Conditions

Perhaps the most defining aspect is the expected gravity and lateral loading the structure must resist. Light structures employ slimmer rolled steel sections better suited to self-weight and lighter uniformly distributed loads from lightweight components or equipment. Heavy structures instead use bulky built-up sections or plates ideal for supporting massed point loads in industrial applications involving heavy machinery.

Warehouses storing pallets of inventory suit light structures, while manufacturing facilities with large gantry cranes or assembly lines may warrant a heavy structure optimized for substantial crane and equipment bearing. Lida frequently assists clients with loading analyses to validate structure selection early on.

Height Restrictions

Building regulations often place limits on maximum heights based on construction material and lateral load-resisting systems. Light structures commonly range from single to multi-storey configurations under 15m, utilizing light-gauge purlins and sheeting to resist wind loads. Taller heights demand heavier sections capable of bracing wind and seismic forces, such as rigid frames or moment-resisting joints only practical with heavy steel.


Materials, connection detailing and fabrication requirements directly impact project costs. While light structures save on steel tonnage, additional components like purlin services are needed. Heavy structures involve larger, costlier members and field connections. Contractor erection rates also differ. A cost-benefit analysis weighing initial material outlay versus long-term economic benefits is prudent when budget is a prime consideration.

Construction Speed

Light structures featuring simple bolt-together components allow for accelerated erection sequences completed in weeks. However, heavy steel structures relying on welded moment connections necessitate slower assembly with specialized equipment and welding expertise. Schedule timelines are critical, influencing decisions on whether expedited light construction or more robust long-term performance takes precedence.


Architectural treatments become feasible with hidden column-free spans attainable through light structures. Their clean lines suit commercial designs seeking column-free floorplates or long narrow buildings. Alternatively, heavy structures suit industrial aesthetics where structural expression is not an overriding design driver.

In summary, a balance of loading demands, building regulations, cost parameters, program schedules and architectural desires assist the choice between light and heavy steel solutions tailored for projects of any scale. Experienced steelwork specialists like Lida Group help optimize this vital selection with analysis and value engineering expertise.

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