Why the Kind of Steel you Choose Matters

Published January 15, 2018 by Whirlwind Team

quality of steel

Steel is the best construction material there is, but you don’t want just any steel. You want high-quality, durable steel from a reputable steel building manufacturer. Everything matters from the gauge of the steel to the warranties and certifications of the supplier.

If you have already made the choice to erect a metal building, make the most of your choice by choosing the best place to get the steel you need.

Strength and durability

Steel has the highest strength-to-weight ratio of any construction material.

  • Smaller weights of steel are as strong or stronger as higher weights of other materials.
  • Your foundation carries less weight.
  • You have more flexibility in accessories and materials used to finish the interior and exterior of the metal building without worrying about the added weight to the frame or the foundation.

Steel that has been properly finished and assembled will outlast other materials because it is designed to bend rather than break. It will not rot, mold, or mildew. When it is time to remove the structure, the steel can be recycled into new steel without any loss of strength.

  • The strength of your steel panels depends on the gauge (thickness), hardness or strength, the rib height, and spacing.
  • Metal that bends slightly is of higher quality than metal that is too stiff and rigid.
  • Deflection, the degree to which a panel is displaced under load, is your most important metric in determining the qualifications of the steel you need.

Evaluate the steel gauge used by the manufacturer under consideration. The lower the number, the stronger the steel. The gauge is a function of the engineering and manufacturing guidelines as well as quality assurance testing during fabrication. Construction grade steel with a gauge of 26 or lower is appropriate for most building projects. High structural integrity comes from full-hard, high yield strength panels with close rib spacings.

Coatings and mastics

The quality of the coating on the steel is crucial to its durability.

  • Without the proper coating, steel is prone to corrosion when exposed to moisture and other environmental factors.
  • Low-quality steel is typically dipped or sprayed with inferior coatings that may only last one or two seasons before reapplication is required.

High quality protective coatings and inorganic paint finishes are the coatings of choice, helping the steel to resist damage for decades without reapplication, as long as the surface is not scratched or cut.

Mastic tape, used where panels overlap vertically and side by side, is meant to prevent leaks when a screw hole is drilled into the sheeting. The mastic forms a seal around the new penetration and the screw, somewhat like a washer. Wider mastics increase the probability a penetration will hit the right place for sealing purposes.

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Accessories and fasteners

The highest quality steel cannot protect against damage and leakage from inferior fasteners or low-quality steel accessories. Fasteners that rust and oxidize, and washers that fail, allow moisture to enter the panel and inundate the insulation, creating more damage requiring repair. Poor-quality fasteners can also cause problems with staining and streaking of exterior walls.

The use of neoprene washers does more than stop leaks; the washers help prevent over-drilling, which can tear the panel and cause leaks. Zinc and cadmium plated fasteners are of lesser quality and may require more frequent inspection and replacement during the life of the building.

why the kind of steel matters


Manufacturers that sell low-priced products are likely cutting corners to obtain savings on fabrication. You will end up with a steel building with thin gauge steel, zinc fasteners, and inferior coatings. The resulting steel building will not last as long as it should.

Look for companies that follow good business practices. These types of companies care about their customers, offering value above and beyond the price of the product they sell. Companies that have been in business for many years and enjoy a good reputation among contractors and owners are those that understand quality is everything.

  • A reputable metal building manufacturer provides warranties on finishes, coatings, and the steel itself.
  • A quality manufacturer carries an IAS-AC472 certificate from the International Accreditation Service.
  • A manufacturer that follows best practices is UL and FM approved, certifying roofing products and assemblies.
  • A manufacturer that protects the environment and saves you energy costs is a committed ENERGY STAR Partner.

Whirlwind Steel offers warranties from 35 to 40 years on paint systems.

The IAS-AC472 certification is only awarded to companies with proven excellence in fabrication and engineering design facilities, product traceability, process control, and technical standards among others. UL and FM approvals are earned by the roof system surviving rigorous fire testing above and below the deck, hail damage testing, wind-uplift testing, and corrosion resistance testing.

Our manufacturing facilities allow us total control of the fabrication process from start to finish. Your plan begins and stays with us until you have the metal building you require. Our comprehensive service is seamless and ensures your exact specifications are met the first time, every time.


To get the most out of your steel building system, hire a reputable contractor with the skills required to erect a premanufactured steel building. A contractor experienced in metal building assembly knows the skills set required for your project and knows where to find the people with those skills to quickly, carefully, and exactingly assemble your prefabricated building as the manufacturer states in the specifications and builder’s guide.

All work is performed to code with no waste and no rework when you have the right contractor for the job.

A quality steel building starts with quality steel from a highly respected manufacturer that provides and honors warranties on workmanship. Your search for quality doesn’t end with the steel framing members. It includes determining the quality of the fasteners, coating, and accessories. It identifies important certifications to prove the manufacturer does what it says.

Find a steel building manufacturer that does all that, and you will have a steel building that is meant to last for ages. Hire the right contractor to help you get the most out of your steel building by erecting it according to rigorous techniques used by experienced workers with the right skill set to erect your metal building correctly and to tight standards.

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