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The Importance of Reinforcing Concrete with Steel

Have you ever given thought as to why concrete is reinforced by steel? If you have, you may wonder and ask yourself why we do this at all. The truth is this: Concrete is only resistant to compression stress, but steel is resistant to compression, tension, and shear brought about by years of wear and tear, changing weather conditions, and the quality of metal used. Additionally, steel is more than a hundred times more tensile than concrete.

Because of this, concrete is ineffectual on its own and often requires the help of steel, especially for today’s modern architecture. And they often complement one another, as steel highlights concrete as a superior building material.

Now, let’s learn about corrosion, weight, and cost and how these play into the importance of reinforcing concrete with steel.


Steel rusts when exposed to air and moisture. While it is possible to prevent oxidation, this requires far more upkeep than is reasonable. Steel rebar, for example, is routinely treated before being poured with cement to protect it from the elements. Nonetheless, it is prone to corrosion.

Concrete, on the other hand, is extremely corrosion resistant. Years of water infiltration, freezing, and refreezing may threaten the structural integrity of reinforced concrete. Regular inspections provide an opportunity to repair or replace corroding parts.


Steel is a hefty material that must be transported in large quantities to the construction site. On the other hand, concrete is roughly one-third the weight of steel and may be delivered in substantially lighter composite sections.

This provides two advantages, the first of which is transportation. Steel is an expensive material that would have to be transported to and welded together on the construction site. On the other hand, concrete can be delivered in composite form, mixed and poured on-site, and then hardened.

Furthermore, the finished structure’s weight is favourable. Because concrete is one-third the density of steel (and contains up to 10 per cent trapped air), a reinforced concrete structure weighs much less than a steel building. Reinforced concrete contains between 1 to  4 per cent steel, which helps to make it lightweight.


Steel, despite its abundance and low cost, is significantly more expensive than concrete. Steel reinforcing makes more sense than concrete in terms of price and convenience of application.

The Evolution of Reinforced Concrete

While ancient societies used early kinds of cement, modern concrete was invented by the Romans. While quarrying limestone for mortar on Mount Vesuvius’ slopes, the Romans discovered mineral-rich silica and alumina.

It could be mixed with water and sand to make a more durable mortar than conventional lime mortar. This substance, like concrete, can harden in water or the air. Then around 2000 BCE, the Colosseum and Pantheon in Rome were built with pozzolana, a volcanic ash-based concrete.

In 1867 CE, a Frenchman called Joseph Monier designed and patented reinforced concrete for cement flower pots. Twisted rebar and prestressed concrete were introduced in the 1880s, and they revolutionised the construction industry.

Then in 1891, the first concrete road in an Ohio village was built. After, The Hoover Dam, the world’s largest concrete structure, was finished in 1936, while Frank Lloyd Wright built a number of well-known concrete structures in the 1950s. From this point through the 1970s, exposed concrete became a popular architectural style.


An excellent building material, concrete, may be combined with other materials to form stone-like constructions of any shape. It is only resistant to compression pressure and crumbles quickly when tension and shear stresses are applied. This is why strengthening concrete requires steel, an ideal material that combines its strength with convenient and lightweight concrete. Steel also adheres well to concrete and expands uniformly to create consistent structures.

Phoenix Reinforcing is a family-owned concrete reinforcing business in Queensland, specialising in structural steel and manufacturing. With over four decades of experience, we can cater to everyone from the DIY enthusiast to the construction trade. We also sell ornamental concrete, building goods, and concreter’s hand equipment. Contact us today!

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