Metal Building Design Options: Create a Beautiful Steel Building

Published January 19, 2018 by Whirlwind Team

 steel building design options

We may be biased, but we're just going to come out and say it: steel buildings can be beautiful. In fact, you've probably driven right buy several very handsome structures and never knew they were pre-engineered steel buildings.

If thoughts of rusty boxes have been holding you back from designing your next building with steel, here are just some of the innumerable design options available to create the house, retail center, barn, hospital, or any other building of your dreams.

Design considerations

As you move through the design process, there are a few things to keep in mind about the assembly and trade coordination requirements during the build phase.

  • Coordination of trades is crucial for mitigating errors and unintended damage. For example, if an electrician doesn’t find a pre-cut penetration for an outlet, the tradesperson may create one without understanding how it should be sealed.
  • Metal components that were not part of the building system that arrived from the manufacturer should be analyzed for fit to prevent leaks.
  • Dissimilar metals that are meant to adjoin must be compatible to avoid premature corrosion.
  • Careful inspection of seams and joints between pieces is critical for ensuring everything is properly fitted and sealed.

When you design your metal building, you must include everything from required penetrations to the type of panels you want for the walls and roof. When penetrations, cuts, or drilled-holes are created at the site, make sure the coating on the metal is resealed, and any materials within the wall properly replaced.

Roof style

Besides color, metal roofs can be created to appear like any style of roof you may want.

  • Steel panels can be made to look like traditional asphalt or shake shingles, clay tiles, or any other appearance.
  • Your vendor can make recommendations about roof slopes and the fitting of multiple gables.
  • You may elect to show the world a lovely raised seam roof on which photovoltaic cells neatly sit.

If you wish to save on energy costs, you could consider a cool roof. Panels coated with a special white finish with infrared additives or other types of specialty coatings can reflect sunlight and re-emit heat as light, lowering your energy bills as well as the ambient temperature around your building.


Wall panels can remain exposed, coated in the color of your choice. Pre-engineered exteriors can be installed over the panels to create the look of brick, stone, or concrete without adding the weight of a masonry wall.

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Accessories include windows, doors, skylights, and the trim to go with them. 

  • Consider the need for natural light within your steel building and design window placement accordingly.
  • Add skylights to enhance natural lighting and save on energy costs from the reduced need for electrical lighting.
  • Doors reflect the intended use of the building. You have selections ranging from a simple walk door to an overhead roll-up or garage-style door to a sliding door. Your doors can be any size you need to accommodate the equipment or people using them. Careful placement can also save energy.
  • Vents are a necessary part of your building plan. Exterior vent faces and trim can be colored to blend in to make them nearly invisible, or you can use the vents as part of your design scheme and order trim to contrast with the surrounding walls.
  • Gutters and downspouts are necessary for channeling water off the roof and away from the foundation but they can also be used as accents around the perimeter of the roof.

More than any other component, accessories add character to your building. Accessories provide the ability to create designs, add complementary or contrasting colors, and contribute to the style of the building.

metal building design options

Colors and finishes

Steel building fabricators and erectors typically have a number of panels in stock colors, but you can get panels in any custom color, shade, or hue. The manufacturer can have panels coated at the factory before they reach your jobsite, ensuring a long term; maintenance free finish.

Steel building components, trim, and accessories are all available in a wide range of colors. You may choose contrasting or complementary colors for the accessories and trim, or you may choose a monochromatic look. Trademark colors and designs can be matched as well in the factory.

Texturing is another option. Panels can be created with deep or shallow lines, embossed, or with designs. A pebbled or rough appearance can be made using finishes and coatings if you prefer not to have smooth metal walls.

Incorporate other materials

Consider some of the buildings you see every day. You will note that some have incorporated glass, masonry, or other metals to create specific looks. For example, a new office building that plans to rent to high-tech companies may opt for a sleek, futuristic look with lots of metal. In the meantime, a boutique retail store owner may prefer the exterior to appear as an English cottage.

Homes built with steel may have special sidings to make the house match the rest of the neighborhood such as vinyl or wood-like materials, brick facades, or other materials to create something homier.

Other design options are available

Once your steel building frame is assembled, there is a wide variety of architectural and decorative pieces you can incorporate into your overall steel building design.

  • Decorative columns and arches can define walkways, enhance entryways, and bring a hint of older building styles to the edifice.
  • Clearstory roofs along with the creative use of windows and skylights create an open, airy environment.
  • Steel is a highly versatile construction material; you can be creative in defining space, mass, proportion, and symmetry in your building designs. Steel will accommodate angles, curves, and other aesthetic enhancements.
  • The roofline and slope are part of the outward appearance of your building. Roof slopes can be nearly level to a high peak. You can have multiple gables, cupolas, and more to create a roof that complements your neighborhood, business, or whimsy.

Steel can take many forms. Finishes and coatings are available in a rainbow of colors. Whether you need to match trademarked business colors or want your building to stand out with dramatic architectural additions, you can create it all in a prefabricated steel building system. Fabricated under the tightest quality control, your steel building kit will arrive with everything you need to assemble the building you need and want.

Let your imagination lead you to the building you have always wanted.

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