Steel Vs. Concrete
Head-to-Head Comparison

Steel Vs. Concrete Head-to-Head Comparison


The safety of personnel and equipment are critical components of any worksite. As a manager or leader in the fields of petrochemicals, oil, and gas, or any other manufacturing segment, the safety of your people and the buildings they work in can be a constant worry. Below, we explore how steel blast-resistant buildings better guarantee the safety of your staff and the durability of your worksite compared to concrete alternatives. We also examine, in detail, RedGuard's proven and acclaimed blast-resistant building promise.


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Steel Vs. Concrete: Which Is Better?

Let's begin with the structural composition. Industrial steel is an alloy (metal amalgamation) of iron and contains about two percent carbon. Concrete is a composite material made up of bonded aggregate (fine or coarse) held together by a fluid paste, usually cement. Concrete cures over time to form a durable structure.

Both materials are prevalent in the construction industry, and for a good reason. Without them, the contemporary-built environment we love today would not exist. While concrete may be in demand for its durability, good fire resistance, and 'fast' timeline deliveries, in many ways, steel makes for the better material, both in the long and short term.

Steel has the highest strength to weight ratio of any construction material in existence. Steel's resilience in tensile strength and shear remains unrivaled in the industry. It does not warp, strain, crack, or crumble like wood, concrete, plastic, or other construction materials. Additionally, unlike concrete, steel does not add excessive weight to a building's foundation. Further, steel requires fewer structural members than concrete, which translates to fewer construction materials needed on or off-site. While concrete takes a few days to dry, steel structures are usable soon after being set up.

In terms of aesthetics and structural design flexibility, steel, again, emerges as the winner. Steel integrates into virtually any design, as well as supports a multitude of loads. One may argue that concrete can be used for multiple designs, but it does not possess the versatility and ductility that makes steel such an attractive building material. When it comes to the best blast-resistant buildings, it is steel's flexibility, elasticity, and RedGuard's solid engineering and design prowess that makes our steel blast-resistant buildings exemplary when it comes to  worksite safety. We employ steel in our blast-resistant buildings because it gives our clients the flexibility they need to meet and exceed their needs.

Further, steel is cheaper to build and maintain than any construction material with similar strengths and characteristics. Costs are an integral consideration of any building project, and when steel is used to construct blast-resistant buildings, strength, quality, and durability go hand in hand with affordability. Steel is also more eco-friendly as 85% of the world's available steel is recycled, including 99% of structural steel after demolition. You cannot reuse or recycle the materials in a concrete structure.

Concrete structures have their benefits, but in comparison to steel, they stack up as expensive, take more time to prepare, cure, and install, and add considerable weight to foundations.

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Safety And Steel Buildings

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We have already established that steel, in many ways, is the stronger and safer building material. Concrete may have considerable strength, but it fractures very easily under tension due to its brittle nature. This characteristic makes concrete a safety hazard in blast-resistant buildings as fragments from fractured and dislocated concrete are considered a significant source of injury.

As the authors of a peer-reviewed research paper in ScienceDirect conclude, concrete is not only an expensive solution, but it also adds considerable gravity loads to the foundations of a building while requiring a significant time frame to install. “The possibility of spalling and fragmentation are also disadvantages when concrete and masonry are exposed to an airblast load because one of the main sources of injury in an explosion is high-velocity fragments. The loss of material also weakens the structural component which may affect the integrity of the building.”

When coupled with skillful structural design, steel's tensile strength makes it the safest option for blast-resistant buildings. RedGuard's proprietary design encompasses structural support in the walls with strategic placement of steel throughout the building. Our design also ensures that the building transfers any energy from a blast away from the interior spaces where staff and valuable equipment may be located. RedGuard's blast-resistant buildings are tough and durable from the inside out.

Don't just take our word for it; watch how we publicly tested and proved our claims. What do you get when you combine  6,000 pounds of highly explosive ammonium nitrate/fuel oil with RedGuard's state-of-the-art blast-resistant building, and unparalleled industry-leading safety innovation? Confidence that you are in the safest hands.

Our test building survived with no structural damage and only shifted a mere ¾”. The crash test dummy we placed inside to simulate a real-life working environment was overall unharmed, demonstrating the protection our blast-resistant buildings offer in case of any unfortunate accidents. We do not claim that there will be no damage to the building whatsoever, but our design has been rigorously tested to ensure any damage is minimal and contained, with little to no grievous harm to human beings.

We publish our test results to assure our clients of the strength and capabilities of our blast-resistant buildings and confirm our commitment to safety.

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Quality Of Steel As A Building Material

As materials, both concrete and steel have different qualities that can help you determine which is best for your blast-resistant buildings.

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As materials, both concrete and steel have different qualities that can help you determine which is best for your blast-resistant buildings.

For example, both materials are strong. However, steel trumps concrete because of the strength-to-weight ratio. As mentioned before, it has the highest ratio of all construction materials and is therefore significantly stronger than concrete. Adding to its strength is steel's ductility and flexibility. You can mold and manipulate concrete, but only to a certain extent, while steel can be adapted to fit virtually any concept or changes to a structure's design.

Steel is also lighter in weight compared to concrete. As a material, it is seemingly 'complete,' making it easier to transport, construct, and even maintain. On the other hand, concrete requires the mixing of cement, sand, water, among other additives, and consequently does not offer the same convenience in transportation, processing, and handling as steel.

Regarding construction, steel structures are more time-saving and effective. Steel structures can be fabricated off-site, like RedGuard's modular blast-resistant buildings, then transported to the site. Once on-site, multiple sections of the structure can be joined, leading to faster turnaround times and effectively reducing possible material waste. In stark comparison, non-modular concrete structures must be cast bit by bit, step by step, and while it dries considerably fast, it takes 28 days to cure.

Further, steel structures require less foundation setting than concrete structures. It is also far easier and more environmentally friendly to bring down steel structures than concrete structures. Should you want to move your blast-resistant building, steel will prove easier to move and will leave you with valuable materials that you can repurpose elsewhere. Once deconstructed, there is no part of a concrete structure that can be reused. 

While it is true that concrete is inherently fireproof, quick and readily available solutions can make steel fireproof too. Steel can be made fireproof by using fire-resistant coatings and barriers and incorporating active measures such as cooling systems and sprinklers. These measures are readily provided in RedGuard's SafetySuite buildings. We will work with you to choose the solutions that best suit your needs and budget.

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Setting A Budget For Your Steel Building

Steel has proven to be significantly more economical than concrete in modular building construction. Recycling has made steel more abundant and cheaper to procure than concrete. Additionally, it is lightweight, making transport and handling faster, and eventually, more affordable. In contrast, concrete involves incorporating many ingredients such as cement, sand/gravel, water, among other additives - making it heavier and difficult to transport. And because it is not as strong on its own, it may require the incorporation of rebar. The addition of rebar will take up more construction time and an accompanying hefty bill.

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Design-wise, steel also emerges as the more cost-effective option. Our SafetySuite blast-resistant modules give you the flexibility to design the exact kind of space that works for your organization without compromising on quality and maximizing savings.

A study found that using steel in construction results in a 5% to 7% decrease in construction expenses compared to concrete. RedGuard's blast-resistant buildings reflect that cost savings.

Also, steel requires fewer pieces of structural equipment such as cranes, installation machinery, and support materials, significantly reducing the procurement budget for other building components.

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Timeline For Planning A Steel Blast-Resistant Building

At RedGuard, we have a simple four-step process to help you construct the safest and most durable building that suits all your diverse needs.

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We initially start at the concept stage, where clients are in the driver's seat. We help you develop a concept that incorporates a study of your site plan, your existing buildings, and an analysis of your day-to-day operation.



Once the concept design is complete and approved by you, construction in our fabrication center begins. Doing this at our site ensures that construction does not interfere with your daily operations. This approach also reduces the number of bottlenecks associated with production. Our worksites are state-of-the-art, and our staff is highly trained to produce the highest quality blast-resistant buildings in the fastest times possible. The build time depends on the size of your structure and unique needs. For example, a simple three-plex or smaller may take 16-20 weeks to construct once the designs are approved. Larger and more complex blast-resistant buildings will take longer to build. Once complete, we ship the whole building to your site.


Site installation begins once the first sections have been successfully delivered. RedGuard handles all installation. Our expertise ensures that your blast-resistant buildings are expertly installed and set up for immediate use once all pieces are delivered, installed and joined.


As the process comes to a close, our final step leaves you fully operational and secured in industry-surpassing safety. We are only one phone call away and always on standby to assist with any questions or maintenance that may be needed. We understand the criticality of response times during accidents and emergencies, and our response times ensure minimal downtime.

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Choosing The Best Vendor For A Steel Blast-Resistant Building

At this point in your reading, we hope that you understand that a blast-resistant building ought to be: made from steel, using a design that has passed a blast test; versatile and adaptive to your needs; and cost-effective and durable.

However, how do you go about choosing a vendor who incorporates all of this into your desired blast-resistant building?

We recommend choosing a vendor who is an industry pioneer and employs and works with the top experts in the industry. With more than 20 years of experience, we are as functional, durable, versatile, and reliable as our blast-resistant buildings. Our expertise is regarded as an industry benchmark, and our team comprises subject matter experts in blast resistance. This is a crucial factor to consider when evaluating vendors for your blast-resistant building.

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Next, your vendor needs to have durable, comfortable blast resistant buildings that have been tested for reliability and utmost safety. RedGuard, without a doubt, shines in this aspect as we are one of the few companies to publish our blast results. We firmly believe in our product, and we would never send out any product that has not met our rigorous high-quality standards.

Another criterion worth considering is the speed of production. How quickly does the vendor produce your desired blast-resistant building? How fast will they deliver the completed structure? Our speedy off-site production and affordability ensure we lead the industry in turnaround times.

The adaptability of design concepts would be the next step of evaluation. Is the vendor open to working to suit all your needs, or will you be forced to settle for one of their structures without considering what suits your unique needs? At RedGuard, we designed our tried-and-tested production process with our clients in mind. Do we have some designs and material processing that are set in place? Certainly, but they have been designed to adapt to your needs, which ultimately become our goals. As industry pioneers and visionaries in this space, we have designed blast-resistant structures that cater to the various needs of our diverse clientele. If you can dream it, we can build it.

Finally, vendors must uphold the highest safety standards, both in the organization and in its products. Do you think your vendor of choice should be recognized and awarded for its safety practices and processes? We think so too.

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The Power Of Steel Blast-Resistant Buildings

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Steel blast-resistant buildings, and steel structures in general, offer strength, versatility, flex, and cost-effectiveness that other construction materials cannot provide altogether. Concrete's saving grace may be its fire resistance capabilities, but steel can also be made fire-resistant through coatings, barriers, and other active cooling measures such as sprinklers – all of which are accommodated by RedGuard's SafetySuite portfolio. However, concrete cannot make up for its brittleness, lack of tensile strength, and shear. These attributes are immutable and irreducible for quality blast-resistant buildings. Ultimately, when it comes to concrete vs. steel – steel wins every time.

We love it when our clients challenge us with their unique blast-resistant building ideas, and to date, we have always stepped up to the plate and knocked every site design concept out of the park. We are recognized in the industry for our unmatched safety standards that we incorporate in our production facilities and workspaces and inform every inch of our blast-resistant building modules.

We are in the business of saving lives and would love to partner with you. Don't hesitate to book a meeting with us via chat, email, or telephone to get a no-obligation quotation from us today.

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