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Savings Guide for RSJ Beams


This savings guide will discuss ways to save costs when buying RSJ beams in the UK. First, you will discover some tips to help save you money. You will also find out why it is crucial not to excessively save costs when installing an RSJ beam. Finally, we list the factors that affect the cost of installing RSJ steel beams.

The RSJ (Rolled Steel Joist) is a steel beam used to replace a load-bearing wall in the construction industry. In the UK, steel beams such as RSJ are widely used by builders and tradespeople in the construction industry. Often, load-bearing walls must be cut into when building an addition or installing new doors and windows. In these scenarios, you must use an RSJ beam to support the load above to transfer it to the building’s foundations safely.

Following are some of the ways to save money when buying an RSJ beam:

Have a plan and a budget

To save money on RSJ beams, you must have a strategy in place. The structure of your building, the costs you will incur, the fabricator you choose, and other factors all need to be considered in your strategy. An established budget will aid you in identifying potential areas for reducing costs. You can also reduce costs by simply changing the building’s structural plan, if necessary.

On the other hand, having the design will allow you to decide which steel structures you need from the fabrication company. Additionally, focusing on the layout can help you build structures with fewer beams or other steel supports by creating more efficient ones.

Use standard steel lengths

If you buy 20 20-foot sections of RSJ beams it will be less expensive than buying ten 201/2-foot units because they are ready-made. You won’t need to cut them to size, scrap extra steel, and pay for unusable remnants. Generally, when it comes to RSJ beams, less weight does not always translate to less cost. Therefore, you will save money by specifying standard RSJ steel beam lengths instead of buying specific sizes.

Additionally, talk with your supplier or fabricator about the current market conditions and whether ordering in a smaller size will save you money. You can also find out the lengths the mills have been producing recently, as lower prices are usually associated with greater inventory availability. Be sure also to ask if there are remnant quality materials from another job that you can purchase.

Don’t pay for primed or painted steel

Priming and painting can increase the cost of an RSJ steel beam. As such, unless the steel beam is installed in an exposed place or a corrosion-prone environment, you need not pay for a primed and painted RSJ steel beam. Also, it’s challenging to fireproof a primed and painted steel beam because fire-resistant materials will not stick to the steel. To avoid the cost of priming and painting being added to the price of the RSJ beam, remember to tell the fabricator that you don’t need the steel beam painted or primed.

Work only with certified fabricators

To reduce cost and avoid the problem that may cost you money and time, it’s essential that you deal with only certified fabricators. Certified fabricators work based on specific standards that’ll help prevent any issues that may come up in the future.

Save cost on fireproofing

There are many practical but well-priced steel fire protection options, such as:

  • Gypsum board: Steel can be fireproofed for a low cost by simply using a fire-resistant gypsum board instead of a conventional gypsum board.
  • Intumescent paints: intumescent paints are cost-effective paints that also are highly durable with good adhesion. They are, however, frequently used on architecturally exposed structural steel primarily because of aesthetics.
  • Spray fireproofing: With spray fireproofing, the RSJ steel beam only needs to be cleaned to remove dirt, oil, grease, and loose mill scale.

Be wary of cheap RSJ beams

To save money and have the opportunity to create a steel package that is more efficient and cheaper, you must avoid the so-called low-cost steel beams available on the market. 

You’ll save money in the long run by investing in high-quality RSJ steel beams, even if it costs more upfront. When you buy high-quality steel, it’ll not only hold up in any climate or environment, but you’ll have peace of mind knowing that it will last. 

When you compromise on quality, you’ll end up paying more in maintenance fees down the road. However, since the price of steel beams fluctuates based on the market, it’s vital to deal with a locked-in vendor that can help save money.

Buy directly from the manufacturer/fabricator

Look for companies that offer direct purchasing rather than dealing with building supply middlemen to buy your RSJ steel beam. When you buy directly from the company, you save money by cutting out middlemen and their hidden charges.

RSJ beam installation and cost reductions

One of the common questions that people ask when it comes to RSJ beam installation is whether or not a DIY is possible. The truth is that RSJ beam installation is a type of job that’s better not handled with some DIY tricks just to cut costs. RSJ beam installation is best left for people who have the professional wherewithal to handle it.

This is mainly because incorrect installation of steel beams could potentially cause dangerous risks to the property and residents. The only way to save cost on RSJ installation and not put the entire property’s structural integrity at risk is to adequately plan and involve professionals—especially a structural engineer— with the right experience and qualification. Professionals will ensure everything is done safely and correctly.

To highlight some of the reasons why you need to engage the right professionals for the installation of RSJ beams—aside from getting building approval—you’ll, for instance, need a structural engineer that can accurately measure the type of required beam by using the length of the beam and the specifics of the load it must support. Also, they’ll help you calculate the correct load needed for the support and will relate the information to a builder, who will subsequently work with a fabricator to manufacture the RSJ that’ll suit your project.

Generally, RSJ installation overall cost chiefly depends on the price of the beam and the cost of the structural engineer and builder. Although the right professionals must handle the installation, you may be able to complete some of the job’s requirements by yourself to save money. Some of the things you can do include:

  • Prepare the site for the installation and do the cleaning after installation.
  • Remove the wall yourself if you’re inserting the beam to replace a load-bearing wall.
  • Plastering: After the structural engineer and builder have finished their work, you could also do the finishing work of plastering and decorating. However, remember that plastering is a skill that those confident in their abilities should only attempt. Repairing the damage will cost two or three times as much as making a new one.

Although you would still need to get relevant building regulation approvals, you could save between £500 and £1000 in labour costs if you have the proper knowledge and experience and are a qualified builder yourself.

Factors that affect the cost of RSJ steel beam installation size

One of the most significant determining factors in the final cost of an RSJ beam is the size of the steel beam. The more material that goes into making the RSJ beam, the more expensive it will be.  Also, for a given length of RSJ beam, a heavier beam is required to support the weight of the beam safely. To lift and install the beam, the RSJ will need mechanical equipment, which will increase the supply and labour costs.

Structural engineer fees

Since only qualified and experienced professionals are recommended to install steel beams, the fees these professionals charge will affect the overall cost.

Plastering and decorating

While some builders include plastering and decorating in their quotes, some do not. This means that you may incur more costs when hiring other tradespeople to do the plastering for you.

Overall it is crucial that you keep your budget in mind when knowing how to save money making this purchase in a way that is safe to do so. 

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