Steel Building Design Options

There are many different options to consider when designing a building that will be right for your company. Depending on the size and function needed, your company will need to consider what will work best. To begin, any steel structure is going to require a foundation, usually a concrete slab. You will need to decide if your company wants the structure to be elevated off the ground or level with the ground. Once the foundation is set, you must choose the design of the building. There are several designs to choose from that each have different benefits:

  • The Symmetrical Gable: In this design the ridge of the roof is in the center of the building and the roof slopes down to the walls. This is the most common design used for steel buildings.
  • Lean-To: If you need a lot of space inside, a lean-to is a popular design that can be partially or fully covered. A lean-to can be added to an existing structure or stand by itself.
  • Single Slope: In a single slope frame one wall is higher than the other and the roof slopes from one side to the other. This design is popular for storefronts of retail strip malls.
  • Unsymmetrical Steel Building: The ridge of the roof is off-center; this design is also called the double slope. The unsymmetrical steel building is a standard design used by restaurants and specialty stores looking for a unique look.
  • Arched Ceiling: This design can be two straight walls with an arched roof attaching them, or there can be no walls and the entire structure is one rounded piece.

You will also need to choose what type of roof you want on your structure. A standing seam steel roof offers easy installation, protection against weather and energy efficiency. It is also cheaper than most other roof materials used in construction, and can come pre-fabricated from the factory to fit your building. The standing ribs of a seam steel roof combined with sealants typically prevent rain and snow leakage and can last 20  years without requiring any maintenance (reducing insurance premiums).

Another key component of your steel building will be the insulation. Insulation provides resistance to heat transfer, minimizes the buildup of condensation, and reduces outside noise. If your building is going to require heating or cooling, insulation will reduce these bills in the long run. Generally fiberglass is used as a primary insulation material and the thicker the layer of fiberglass is, the more it will prevent the transfer of heat. Fiberglass does not insulate against heat generated by radiation, such as solar heat. You might want to consider layering reflective insulations on top of fiberglass to boost your buildings capacity to prevent all three forms of heat transfer, convention, conduction and radiation.


Some other things to consider when you make your design are the basic functions of the building. Each building type is highly customizable. What will you need it to be able to do?

For example, if you need a commercial steel building for an aircraft hanger, it is going to need some sort of gate that can open and close. Will you need a roll up garage door, a single gate piece that opens from one side, or a two-piece gate that opens from the middle? What size will the planes be that use the hanger?

If you are building a warehouse, what kind of product will you store? Will it require a loading dock? Multiple access gates? What kind of ventilation will you need? Do you need to store the product at a specific temperature? These are just some of the minor decisions to make prior to starting construction.

In addition to the main elements, figure out what type of features you want on your building regardless if it is for your business or a residential steel building. For doors, will you need to move large objects in and out of the building? If so, sliding doors or mechanized overhead doors are available for framed openings. Walk doors are typically self-framing, so they can be installed anywhere they won’t be blocked by a column. You can have as many walk-doors as you want, and you won’t have to account for them when specifying the number of framed openings you want in your building. Windows are also self-framing, and can provide your building with natural lighting and ventilation. Suppliers will typically offer insulated (“thermals”) and un-insulated models in a wide range of sizes.  

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