Using steel buildings for offices, retail stores, sports complexes, parking garages and storage facilities is becoming the norm for many construction firms and property companies. The benefits of metal buildings are varied, ranging from environmental to financial. Generally, there are three different types of steel building that currently dot the landscape.
The first type of steel building is called a Quonset Hut steel building. The name comes from the Quonset Hut Military Base in Rhode Island, which is where this type of metal building was first introduced. Quonset Hut style buildings have an arched shape to them, with no interior columns, beams or posts to help support them. The building is completely self-supporting and the sheeting that is laid across the outside of the structure is basically the building. The Quonset Hut is the prototypical “metal barn” look type of metal building. The Quonset Hut is typically the least expensive of the three types of metal buildings and is easy to put up. It is also easy to make longer and can grow with the needs of the people using it. It is a good choice for a metal building in remote locations. A few downsides to the Quonset Hut style is that it can be quite costly to insulate and next to impossible to install doors on the sides of the building.
The second type of steel building is called a steel i-beam building. This is the most common metal building, and is also known as a “red iron” or “rigid frame” steel building. A steel i-beam building uses beams that resemble a capital letter “I” and a steel main frame truss as the support for the building. After being assembled on the ground, each i-beam truss is raised and bolted to the concrete foundation of the building. The i-beam style of metal building is usually available in several different colours and can be raised relatively quickly. There are few limitations in terms of width, which makes it possible to put up huge steel buildings, 100 to 200 feet wide. An i-beam style steel building can run into problems with interior condensation, and the choice of building shape is often limited to a simple box. A crane or other heavy equipment is usually required to get a steel i-beam building upright.
The third type of metal building is a hybrid steel/wood combination. Trusses are used similarly to i-beam steel buildings, and bolted in place the same way, but wood is also used horizontally in between the trusses. The wooden “purlins” and “girts” are attached with clips to the steel trusses after they have been raised and bolted in place in the concrete. Sheeting is fastened to the wood with screws to create the outside of a hybrid metal building. Hybrid style steel buildings are ideal if you plan to do any interior finishing, and you can use a variety of external finishes, including wood siding, vinyl siding, stucco or brick. You can also use traditional shingles instead of steel on the roof. A couple disadvantages to a hybrid metal building is that it may be more costly when erecting a smaller building this way, and a higher roof pitch can add to heating costs.
Ultimately, the choice of which type of steel building to use comes down to the user’s needs. Fortunately, continual developments in steel building technology are ensuring that the advantages of metal construction can be enjoyed while not sacrificing practicality, cost-effectiveness and attractiveness.