Specialist Information on Encased Steel Column Designs

Posted on 16th August 2021

When looking over options for architectural structures, features, and elements that will be used to complete an interior-based project, it is possible you will come across information on encased steel column designs. But what is an encased steel column? Where might they be used?

We have provided this guide in order to answer these questions in greater depth, as well as to discuss the benefits of using encased steel columns in your planned projects. Read on to learn more, or speak with us on the phone or send us an email today if you have a more specific question that should be answered by a member of our team.


What is an Encased Steel Column?

An encased steel column is an architectural element of a building, consisting of two parts. The inner part is a steel section, which may or may not be a singular beam. The outer layer is an encasement material that can be a reinforcing structural material (such as concrete), or decorative (such as is offered by glassfibre reinforced gypsum, or GRG), in the case of some internal column encasements.

grg column

Where can Encased Steel Columns be Used?

Concrete-encased steel columns will most often be used in the interiors of high rise buildings and structures, as they can offer a higher level of structural reinforcement not offered by uncovered columns. Combined materials allow the column to bear greater loads with a lesser cross sectional area, and can improve the overall rigidity of the building itself. Using steel column encasements in your project design will also provide significant resistance to lateral loads.

However, this bears no relation to columns encased in GRG, which are decorative and used only for aesthetic purposes.

Particular industry sectors where encased steel columns are often used include:

  • Commercial, in buildings such as offices
  • Retail, in buildings and outlets such as shopping centres
  • Transport, in buildings and structures such as airports and train stations
  • Hospitality, in buildings such as hotels and restaurants
  • Leisure, in buildings such as sports arenas and theatres
  • What Materials are Used for Steel Column Encasements?

Most often, contractors will choose to use concrete as the base material for steel column encasements to create durable, hard-wearing structures that have the strength required for great amounts of load bearing. However, when we provide column casings for interior design projects across a selection of industry and building types, we will utilise glass fibre reinforced gypsum (also abbreviated to GFRG or GRG).

GRG is a composite material made from a mix of gypsum plaster and glass fibre matting. The inclusion of glass fibres within the design reinforces the overall structure of the material, while still providing a light product that can be installed quickly.

Our GRG column casings are not designed to offer the structural benefits that may be provided by concrete. They are instead utilised as a popular interior decoration for column structures that would otherwise be left exposed, and would mar the aesthetic that an architect or interior designer had planned for the space. Commonly, they will be used to hide and conceal:

  • Building structure (such as steel columns)
  • Services (such as plumbing)
  • Wiring and electrical outlets


Column Encasements from Design and Visual Concepts

We are able to provide clients with a range of column cover designs made from professionally manufactured glass-reinforced gypsum, from 200mm to 1000mm in diameter and up to 3000mm in length. We will also be able to stack casings to increase the height of the overall design, if this is required to achieve the aesthetics planned for the given interior space.

Every design manufactured in our workshops is prepared to tight tolerances and offers a superior finish, as they are prepared in computer-aided design (CAD) and computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) precision moulds. This also ensures that we are able to prepare a wide selection of designs, specifically requested shapes, and unique dimensions that are required by the client.

We must also note that our GRG column casings are made specifically and solely for interior use. If you require column casings for an exterior work project, these will be manufactured in Jesmonite.


What Benefits do Encased Steel Columns Provide?

The greatest benefits you will find related to our own GRG column casings are associated with visual improvement. Every product manufactured by our craftsmen is made to size, and to perfectly fit the curves and undulations of any interior space. This is in contrast to plasterboard, which will only provide square edges that do not offer any particular visual appeal.

GRG is also a lightweight material, which makes it easy and quick to install if you require fast, cost-effective services and materials to meet a deadline. It is also Class 0 fire rated, meaning it has a low propagation of flames and limits the amount of heat released from a surface during a fire. We must note that this does not specifically make them a safety product, however.

With our specialist assistance, you may expect the encasements you have ordered to be delivered in two pieces that will then be fixed together using countersunk mechanical fixings and fastened around the column or beam they are to conceal. Lightweight support frameworks will also be optional for these products.

You will also have the additional benefit of creating a clean, ultramodern aesthetic for any interior space you are designing or renovating when utilising encased steel columns of any material variety.


For the Specialist Installation of GRG Steel Column Encasements

If you have been considering materials for steel column encasements to complete an interior design and architectural project and glass-reinforced gypsum seems a distinct possibility, contact us today. We are more than certain that we can provide the encasements you need, to the exact design specifications requested.

As a UK-based manufacturer, you will be guaranteed a fast supply and delivery, with an application to suit your schedule. With our years of experience in supplying GRG, you can also expect full work consistency and a sublime finish for any interior space.

To see examples of glass fibre reinforced encasements for columns we have provided for a range of clients in varying industries, please see our portfolio.

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