Weatherproofing Your Steel Building Like a Pro

Published February 28, 2014 by Whirlwind Team

weatherproofing your buildingAny research you do regarding using steel buildings will provide the same types of information: they're affordable, low-maintenance, quick to build, and are incredibly weather resistant. This latter quality is most certainly true. Steel buildings are often the last soldiers standing after a major act of mother nature, such as tornadoes, hurricanes, or flooding. However, their ability to be weather proof is dependent on the steps your contractor takes to ensure its structural integrity.

Make sure your steel building includes the following components to optimize its weather proof qualities.

Waterproofing. It may seem unnecessary to waterproof a metal building since steel is inherently waterproof. However, your steel building materials don't exist in a vacuum. Steel and metal building materials are used adjacent to and alongside less waterproof materials, such as concrete, wood, and insulation. All of these are susceptible to water damage that will compromise the integrity of the building as a whole if they aren't waterproofed correctly.

Invest in high-quality from the get go. This means using a combination of materials. You want to install the overhangs, gutters and downspouts necessary to divert water away from your building, as well as the sealants required to seal your building from water infiltration. Ideally, your overhangs should extend one to three feet away from the sides of the building. Use high-quality weather stripping on doors and windows to keep moisture out.

Sealants. Take your waterproofing a step further by augmenting the factory-standard protective coating. If you live in areas with higher than average heat and/or humidity, or in an area with high rainfall averages, speak to the manufacturer about more specific sealant options. These sealants are available in a range of options and can also help to enhance heat gain via reflective properties, or more fire-retardant properties for buildings in hot and arid climates.

Foundation and roofing. Much of the integrity of your metal will depend on the quality of your foundation and roofing. While steel buildings have the ability to withstand winds upwards of 170 mph, this ability is directly related to the strength of the building's foundation. Always adhere to the building's engineered foundation plan and follow the plans to the letter. Consider your climate when choosing the pitch of your roof. Accumulated snow places significant amounts of vertical stress on a building so make sure your roof's pitch is high enough to keep snow from accumulating. Also, use high-quality roofing products, such as Weather Guard or Weather Lok to keep your roof weather tight. The choices you make now will affect your building's ability to weather the elements for the rest of its lifespan.

Insulation. Your metal building's insulation materials do much more than simply mitigate heat gain and loss. You should select your insulation based on a variety of factors, including your climate, the building's use, and average annual temperatures. For example, metal building contractors in areas with high humidity or heavy rainfall should opt for insulation with vapor lock and moisture resistant properties. Once moisture is trapped in your insulation, mold and mildew can begin to grow, which compromises indoor air quality and will also diminish the product's ability to insulate. Industrial buildings or buildings in hot, arid climates may be more interested in insulation products with better fire retardant properties, or insulation that is designed to divert radiant heat.

Look for insulation products that have a warranty of at least 6 to 10 years and always replace or augment your insulation with a new layer when you reach the end of the product's warranty period. Your metal building manufacturer should be able to supply you with the recommended R-values for your geographic location.

Windows and doors. The last element in your building's envelope are its windows and doors. Again, the money you invest now in high-quality window and door products will pay for itself in terms of energy efficiency and weather proofing. Pay attention to the weather patterns, sun direction, and wind direction at your site location and place doors and windows accordingly. Avoid placing doors or windows on areas of the building that experience consistently high wind exposure. If windows will be exposed to excessive levels of direct sunlight or bitter winter winds, purchase specialty windows with higher insulation values for those locations.

By taking the time to do your research now, and being willing to invest a little extra toward weatherproofing your building, you can rest assured your metal building will provide all of the sturdy, low-maintenance benefits you've read about.

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