How do composite materials compare to steel for engineered flooring and gully covers?

By Stuart Burns December 28, 2013

Without question, steel is one of the most useful and well-loved materials in the construction industry. Typically, it is used where absolute strength is required, such as flooring and gully covers, as its performance in tension and under loading is remarkable. However, steel does still have a number of drawbacks…

Firstly, steel, like concrete, is heavy. As with concrete elements, therefore, steel parts will usually require heavy lifting gear or significant manpower to get them into position when creating engineered flooring. Secondly, as steel is obviously good at conducting heat, it can be extremely cold in the winter – something that can be a problem when it comes to items that are designed to be held, such as hand railing. Thirdly and finally, steel is very slippery when wet. Though many people are aware of this issue and opt for a chequered plate ‘anti slip’ finish, in reality this offers little in the way of friction when wet.

Once again, if any of these downsides pose a problem for you or your build, composite products could well be the perfect solution. Although steel is still regarded as the best material to use for elements such as structural beams, composite engineered flooring alternatives are not only exceedingly strong, but also far easier to manoeuvre, meaning a much less expensive installation. Unlike steel, it is also easy for composite products to be adapted to provide one of the highest anti-slip surface finishes ever tested. Plus composite elements such as handrails and gully covers are also far warmer to the touch during the winter and reduce the risk of freeze burns in the workplace.
Arguably the biggest advantage of composite materials over steel, however, is the ease with which they can be cut to size. Although it is possible to cut steel to size on site, it requires special equipment and individuals trained in metalwork. Further, once steel has been cut, it really should be regalvanised, which will mean it will have to be transported off site and then back on, costing you both time and money. On the other hand, composite materials, though tough, can be modified with ease on site using standard power tools and won’t require extra treatments.

For more on the many advantages of composite materials when it comes to creating engineered flooring and gully covers, just visit our home page, where you’ll be able to obtain a free copy of my new guide, “How to Choose Composite Building Products”.