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  Steel Buildings: Three Basic Types
These days, more and more companies and private citizens are turning to metal buildings as their material of choice, not only for uses traditionally associated with metal buildings, like storage facilities and sheds, but also for offices, retail stores, recreation and sports facilities, carports, and even homes. A steel building can offer advantages in cost, flexibility and durability. For the most part, steel buildings can be classified as either as a Quonset Hut, I-beam, or steel-wood hybrid type of structure.

The Quonset Hut was developed by the U.S. Navy at their base in Quonset Point, Rhode Island, in response to the demand for an all-purpose, lightweight building that could be easily shipped and assembled by general laborers. The Quonset Hut is composed of a series of self-supporting steel arches, and require no further support structures like columns or beams. The design is incredibly simple--metal sheets are laid over self-supporting arches. Its simplicity often makes people regard these structures as "metal barns". Quonset Huts are often a preferred choice of metal building in remote locations, as they are easily transported and assembled. It is the most cost-effective type of metal building, as it is durable, and can be expanded by adding more section to one of its ends as needs dictate. Drawbacks of a Quonset Hut steel building are its high insulation costs and the inability to place doors on the arched sides.

Steel i-beam buildings are the most common type of metal building. Most people have seen one of these buildings in their construction, their steel skeletons visible as they grow upward. I-beams take their name from their shape, which resembles a capital "I". They are an efficient form of beam, as the vertical "web" element is resistant to shear forces, while the horizontal "flanges" resist bending. Trusses are assembled from I-beams and then raised into position before being bolted to the building's foundation. I-beam buildings are not limited in their potential width, and can accommodate designs that are hundreds of feet wide. Beams can be made in multiple colours, and their construction is relatively fast. Disadvantages of this type of structure include limitations to box-like building shapes, the requirement of cranes or other heavy equipment to get the i-beams off the ground, and problems involving interior condensation.

Hybrid steel/wood buildings are similar to i-beam steel buildings, but with wood beams called "purlins" and "girts" running horizontally between the vertical steel trusses, attached after the trusses have been raised into place and bolted to the concrete. The outside of the building is composed of sheets attached to the wood. The hybrid allows for greater flexibility in finishing materials. A range of exterior finishes, including vinyl siding or brick, are possible, and shingles can be used for roofing. Interior finishes can be attached to the wood as well. Disadvantages of the steel/wood hybrid include generally higher costs, as it involves more complex construction and costs more to heat.

These three types of future steel buildings have their advantages and disadvantages, but thanks to developments in steel building design and technology, there is likely to be an option that is right for your next building project, whether your needs are utilitarian, aesthetic or environmental.

Whether you need a garage, workshop, carport or warehouse, find the solution you need with future steel buildings.

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