When planning a large construction project such as the design and installation of a large-scale bleacher or grandstand structure, it is important to evaluate the materials used for the base of the structure. A number of variables come in to play when planning a new bleacher build, including but not limited to: structure strength, budget and spectator safety.
The three main types of construction for these large structures are concrete, wood, and steel frames and studs. While each has its advantages and drawbacks, we will go through each process in depth below to help you make the best decision possible for your new grandstand bleacher structure.
Versatile and tough, steel is often the choice of many when constructing large bleacher structures, and is always the material we recommend to our clientele. The properties of steel are desirable in that they are quite flexible for outdoor use and are able to withstand forces such as high winds or earthquakes. While steel can be a costly alternative, the savings are often realized in the installation process. With most projects, we will completely pre-fabricate most components of the steel structure and ship them directly to the site. When selecting a steel framing system for a new bleacher, you are receiving a high-quality product that is fabricated in a controlled and quality certified facility. Steel also provides your organization and the manufacturer greater predictability and increased productivity that can speed the erection of the structure immensely. Steel framing can also lessen the cost of foundations and enhance project payback by optimizing usable floor space by utilizing smaller columns and longer spans. From an environmental standpoint, the embodied energy and carbon footprint of steel framing projects are typically 10% to 20% lower for similar structures framed in structural steel rather than concrete.
Perhaps the most common type of modern building structure is that containing concrete studding and framing. When referencing a building construction, concrete can be used or formed to create slabs, beams and columns to support the entire structure and is often paired with steel bars or rebar to reinforce these concrete structures. With bleachers, we typically only use concrete as studs formed in the ground to support the entire structure and will often pour a concrete slab as well for additional support and to create a useable surface beneath the structure. This allows large grandstands with I-Beam construction the ability to house storage, concessions or change rooms safely beneath the structure, allowing facilities more usable space upon completion.
While wood still plays a large part in the construction of residential homes and smaller commercial construction projects, but we don’t often find it used in the construction of bleacher structures. While wood is generally reliable, budget-friendly and lightweight, it is susceptible to damage quite easily. Strong winds and extreme weather conditions can diminish the strength of wooden structures and it is also easily damaged by fire, moisture and other external threats such as termites and other destructive insects. These reasons alone cause us and many other manufacturers to stay away from wood when designing and building bleachers, other than in rare cases in which wood is used as a cheaper decking material.