| Three Approaches to Constructing a Steel Building|
|Steel buildings can be energy efficient, environmentally friendly and cost-effective. As such, it is becoming an increasingly common choice for firms that require offices, retail space, recreational spaces, parking structures and storage space. Metal buildings typically follow one of three basic construction methods.|
Named after Quonset Point, the home of the United States Naval Base in Rhode Island where the first such structure was developed during World War II, the Quonset Hut steel building is arch-shaped, and requires no columns, posts, or support beams. This type is commonly associated with the popular notion of the steel building as a "metal barn". The Quonset Hut's arch shape makes it able to support itself. Advantages of this type of building are that it is inexpensive, easily assembled, and easily elongated, by removing one of the end walls and adding more arches and sheet metal. Some noted disadvantages of this design are that insulating costs can be high, and door placement is usually limited to one of the two flat ends.
The steel i-beam building, also referred to as "red iron" or "rigid frame", is the most popular type of metal building. The invention of this type of beam allowed for the development of the skyscraper. I-beams are shaped like a capital letter "I", the horizontal top and bottom of which are called "flanges", and the vertical section in the middle of which is called the "web". The beams are assembled on the ground into trusses, which are then raised and attached to a concrete foundation with bolts. Advantages of i-beam metal buildings are that they can be built relatively quickly, and are largely unlimited when it comes to width, allowing for large steel buildings up to hundreds of feet wide. Drawbacks to the i-beam type of design include issues with interior condensation and moisture, limitations of building shape to box-like structures, and the necessity of heavy equipment such as cranes for raising the trusses into place.
Steel/wood hybrids are another type of metal building, with steel i-beam trusses raised and bolted to the foundation, but with wooden "purlins" and "girts" running horizontally between them. Exterior sheeting is then attached to the wood. This type of design is advantageous for buildings that will require interior finishing, and it offers a wider range of materials for the exterior as well, such as wood or vinyl siding, stucco or brick walls, and traditional shingles for the roof. Cost is the major disadvantage for this type of metal building, both in construction and in heating expenses, due to the higher-pitched roof.
Which type of future steel buildings is right for your project? Ultimately, that depends on your needs. Whether you need maximum interior space, minimal construction costs, or attractive aesthetics, there is likely a steel building that meets your demands.
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