5 Important Considerations When Sourcing Prefab Steel Reinforcement Cages & Columns

by Ben Avenell on Jul 15, 2019

Many building projects spanning from small home renovations to the construction of some of the most breath-taking architectural and civil engineering feats of all time rely vastly on one key product.

Of course, it is common knowledge that concrete revolutionized the building industry. But it is what goes on inside that concrete which has led to the human race being able to build bigger, better and longer-lasting structures.

Steel reinforcement cages and columns have long been used to improve the strength and usability of concrete building materials. But what exactly are they and what do we need to consider when sourcing prefab steel reinforcement cages and columns?

What are Prefab Steel Reinforcement Cages?

Prefab steel reinforcement cages are welded structures made from long steel reinforcing bars. These cages are typically used to increase the tensile strength of concrete.

Concrete itself has an incredible ability to withstand compressive stress, meaning it can take an immense amount of force or weight to crush it. This is ten times the amount of tensile stress it can take, which means it is much easier to break concrete through torque and twisting it than crushing it.

Where concrete is used in buildings and homes, the movement of the earth and other forces can cause it to twist and torque, leading to damage and break down over time. Hence steel reinforcement cages being widely used to improve its tensile strength.

Define the purpose

Before looking to source the reinforcement cages you need for your job you must ask yourself what their exact purpose will be. This will give you a good indication of what strength requirements your reinforcement cage will need to meet. Doing so will also ensure that you are not paying over the odds for cages which far surpass your needs.

For example, for those in the building industry who are undertaking huge projects where concrete structures will be undertaking a vast amount of stress and strain, high thickness and strength will be required of their cages. For smaller and home projects a smaller thickness and strength will often be adequate to meet all your needs.

Choosing the correct thickness

For domestic and home improvement projects there are only really three sizes of reinforcement bar you need to consider: #3, #4 and #5. With #3 being the lightest type of reinforcement bar widely available, it is a reasonable option for use on projects such as patios and driveways. It can also be used for other projects that, once completed, will be only bare a minimum-weight load.

Type #4 is widely used for above soil structures such as walls and columns. In contrast, #5 reinforcement bar is a good option for use in footings and foundations.

Length requirements

When executing your project you will also need to consider the length of the prefab reinforcement cage you will need.

Although it is possible to cut these cages into the correct size once on site, it is always a better idea to ensure that they are ordered in the right sizes for the project you are working on. If in doubt, it can be a smart idea to order smaller cages rather than longer ones as they allow for greater flexibility and can be bound together with tie wire.

However, for corners and curves, using bent cages will always result in a stronger structure when compared to binding cages at an angle.

Pre-welded or on site?

It is possible to weld your own cages on site from reinforcement bars. However, this is not always the best option.

Although there is some potential for marginal cost savings by doing this, overall it is likely to be a substantial time drain on your project. Due to space, equipment and expertise requirements, it can also lead to a substandard product, meaning that your initial calculations on strength requirements are not met.

Ultimately this can lead to the overall structural integrity failing or having a shorter life expectancy than planned. 

Choosing your supplier

There are plenty of options out there for buying reinforcement cages. But choosing to work with a supplier that stays up to date with all the innovations and changes in the industry means you are much more likely to end up with a product that is far superior.

Although a high-profile supplier may increase costs a small amount, doing so significantly decreases the risk of issues that can hold up projects and drastically increase overall costs.

Picking which steel reinforcement cages and columns to use can be a confusing process. However, by taking the time to understand the exact requirements of the cages can go a long way to helping you plan which ones are most suitable for you. Working with a professional supplier will also ensure that best practices are naturally applied to your project.

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