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Steel Buildings: A Quick Guide

The term “steel buildings” usually refers to structures that use steel as the internal support system as well as their exterior walling. Steel buildings are becoming more and more popular because the material is relatively cheap and easy to work with.

Airplane hangers, warehouses, commercial retail spaces, garages, factories, sport outlet centers, and even houses are all using this material in various quantities. Steel building structures can come in many different forms, and like all types of buildings, has their benefits and drawbacks.

See our Buyer’s Guide for a complete list of Types of Steel Buildings – from commercial to municipal.

Components of Steel Buildings

Steel buildings are usually prefabricated (or prefab) building, meaning they are designed a head of time, the pieces are produced on a large-scale in a factory, and then they are simply assembled on-site.

This drastically cuts back on the time and effort involved in fitting and cutting metal on the premises. Steel buildings come in standard sizes and layouts – see a complete list of Steel Building Design Options - which is why they are commonly used for warehouses or storage space that doesn’t require much customization.

  • Frame models include gable symmetrical, single slope, lean-to, or multiple span steel buildings.
  • Models usually consist of simple walling and roofing, but buildings can also have steel frames and use other materials for the walling and roofing, as well as feature full cover trim on doors and windows so that no steel is exposed.
  • Customization for color, doors, or windows is also available.
  • Steel buildings can be straight-walled or arched depending on cost, functionality, or environmental conditions.


The benefits of using steel are extensive, because it is a strong material that has become relatively inexpensive. If you are looking to invest in steel buildings for your company, here are some benefits you should expect to see.

  • Most steel building types are strong and durable lasting at least 20 to 30 years, much longer than wood. Are designed to withstand extreme weather conditions like hurricanes, heavy snow, and earthquakes. They are also resistant to mold, termites, and other forms of ware-and tear.
  • They are quick and easy to erect because of their prefabricated nature.
  • They are versatile in terms of customizations and can be used as anything from recreation to retail.
  • They are relatively cost-effective because they have virtually no maintenance costs. Steel buildings are also somewhat environmentally friendly than wooden counterparts and can be recycled. RHINO’s steel framing averages about 89.5% recycled steel content.


Though steel buildings have their benefits and are relatively simple to set up, there are still some drawbacks of using them for your business. Depending on the type of business you own, steel buildings might not be the best option.

  • Stylistically, they are not the most appealing structures. Steel buildings are simple and are built for function rather than beauty. If you are looking to attract customers into your storefront, a steel building might not be the best option.
  • Sturdy as they are, steel buildings are still susceptible to corrosion. Metal natural reacts to atmospheric oxygen, causing rust. Though you can help prevent rust with coatings or protective methods, they are typically expensive and are limited in their use.
  • Your steel building needs to be fire-treated. Though steel is not flammable, at high temperatures its strength drastically reduces, making your building susceptible to buckling or collapsing.

Depending on your industry, steel buildings can provide you with an easy storage solution or extra space to expand your business. As with most materials, steel has its benefits and drawbacks, so have a clear vision of what you would use the space for before deciding on a structure.

If you’re looking into steel buildings, you may also want to check out residential steel buildings or modular buildings.