There are lots of advantages to using steel for your building project compared to the traditional concrete block construction. While both materials are durable and effective for commercial construction, steel buildings are becoming more common. This is thanks to improved technology and engineering standards. Today, over 90% of industrial buildings and a majority of commercial buildings are steel buildings instead of masonry. There has even been a push towards metal post-frame homes in the past few years.
Steel Building: The term “steel building” is often used interchangeably to described a steel panel building or a steel framed building. The framing of most buildings will generally be wood columns or vertical steel columns and horizontal steel I-beams. Regardless of the framing structure, we will be looking at the ribbed steel panels providing the exterior walls of the building for this discussion.
Concrete Building: This is the traditional building of laying individual blocks (brick, stone, cinder block, etc) to construct a building. They are laid together with a cement mortar that will bind them together as a structural wall. The block will provide both the structural integrity of the wall as well as the exterior facing wall.
Steel vs Concrete Construction:
- Cost Effectiveness
Steel buildings are cheaper to build than a brick building. Masonry buildings are very labor intensive as they require laying brick or concrete blocks manually. Steel buildings can be framed with wood or steel columns with exterior steel paneling that can be installed very quickly. These steel panels are cut to size in the factory and attached to the framing during construction with stainless steel crews.
- Energy Efficiency
Energy efficiency all comes down to the “R-Value” of the building. While a concrete block is 8″ thick and offers some energy efficiencies from its’ own mass, it can prove difficult to fully insulate to the same value of a metal building. The R-Value of a cinder block is between R-1.9 and R-2.5. You can insulate the cavity (vermiculite) of the cinder block during construction to achieve an R-Value rating approaching R-10. On the other hand, metal buildings are constructed as post-frame buildings with columns and trusses every 8′, that allows for a superior insulation package as there will be less air leaks and additional space for insulation. With a qualified insulation professional, a metal building can easily exceed the R-Value needed for exterior walls in your zones.
- Strength and Engineering
The strength of your building will come down to the engineering behind its’ design. Steel, concrete and wood all have different structural properties that need to be incorporated into the engineering of your buildings. The building should be engineered by a licensed engineer or architect to ensure that it meets all of the required buildings codes. At Walters Buildings we ensure that our buildings exceed the American Society of Civil Engineers ASCE Minimum Design Loads for Buildings and Other Structures as well as guidelines from the International Code Council.
- Durability and Lifetime Value
A brick or block building will have great durability as concrete deteriorates slowly over time. Because concrete is a porous material, it will need to be sealed to prevent water from sinking into the block or brick. You will often see older houses with cinder block walls in the basement failing due to the water entering the block. Steel panels can rust or fade over time if cheap material is utilized. At Walters Buildings, we insist on the highest quality material to ensure that our panels do not fade or rust over time. We utilize 28-gauge structural steel with a G-90 value to prevent rust. We also have a 35 year warranty on the paint film integrity and a 25 year warranty on paint fade.
- Appearance of Building
Both a masonry building and a steel building have very distinct appearances. A metal building will offer more customization than a large masonry building. However, many people prefer the classical stone appearance offered from masonry products. This is usually overcome through the installation of a stone fascia – often at the base of the building as a wainscoting.
- Cost Effectiveness
Building a commercial or industrial building is a big project that requires working with the right contractors. At Walters Buildings we understand that your primary focus is on a long-lasting, cost-effective solution to serve your needs. Contract us today and let one of our highly qualified District Managers walk you through our building process and help turn your vision into reality.