Maintaining Your Steel Buildings: What You Need to Know!

Published March 27, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

 DSC1293Don't confuse low-maintenance with no-maintenance. Yes, steel and metal buildings boast longevity and durability that exceeds most other building options, but they still require a little TLC to keep them looking and functioning their best.

Maintenance Requirements for Steel and Metal Buildings

High-quality materials, improvements in fabrication and innovative protective coatings have made metal buildings one of the most desirable and fruitful investments in every sector of the real estate market, from residential and commercial buildings to agricultural, church and municipal structures. Part of their attraction lies in metal buildings' affordability and ease of installation. The secondary component is the extended affordability of owning a building that requires minimal annual maintenance and has parts with warranties ranging anywhere from decades to a lifetime.

The following information is a brief overview of what holistic maintenance for a metal building would look like. Of course, these maintenance requirements will vary according to location and climate, as well as individual manufacturer's instructions. Always use OSHA recommendations and advisories for fall protection, tie-offs, ladder work, etc. when maintaining your building. If you plan to hire subcontractors, always verify that they are licensed, bonded and insured.

Your Geography Matters

In most cases, routine building inspections and required maintenance would be performed twice annually: towards the end of fall as you are  headed into winter and then again in the early spring. You will also want to take a good look after any unusual storm, wind or seismic activity. However, those who live in coastal climates, areas with high humidity, or in areas that are subject to heavily polluted air (moisture, salt and chemicals have corrosive properties) will want to perform building inspections more frequently.

If you live in an area prone to snow and ice, pay particularly close attention to snow and ice accumulation on the roof of your building to make sure it does not exceed the building's snow load. If you are concerned the snow and ice on your roof is reaching maximum capacity, use great caution to remove it or hire a professional to do the work for you.

Accessory Maintenance

Building accessories, especially gutters and downspouts, are an essential part of your building's moisture protection system. If they become clogged with dirt, leaves, twigs and/or other debris, standing water can begin to corrode and rust adjacent building components. Inspect your gutters and downspouts in the spring, fall and after a serious storm to make sure they are clear. If you need to remove debris, you can do so by squirting them with a hose and directing the debris along the gutters and into the downspouts. Larger materials, like leaves, twigs and rocks should be removed by hand. Wear protective gloves, clothing and safety goggles.

Doors and Windows

Your metal building's doors and windows should require very little maintenance. Even so, make sure they are sealed tight and that weather stripping and sealing materials are in good shape. Use lubrication when necessary on window tracks and make sure window sill drain holes are clear of debris. Repair any leaks ASAP to prevent water damage, and remove and replace old caulk when needed.


Wet or damaged insulation will transfer heat, and that can add up on your utility bills, not to mention its affect on indoor comfort. Inspect your building's insulation once a year to make sure it is in good shape. You should also inspect anytime repair work has been done or after known leaks or fire damage have taken place so any damaged insulation can be replaced. Wet insulation is also prone to mold/mildew growth, which compromises indoor air quality and overall health.

Exterior Finish and Paint Systems

On a traditional wood-framed building, exterior paint and finish systems require constant attention and maintenance to look and function effectively. This can be costly. Metal buildings, on the other hand, are built with long-lasting paint and finish materials. The higher-quality materials you buy, the less maintenance and long-term care they will require.

After your building is finished, the roof can have a barely-visible layer of metal shavings. These should be swept off to prevent the threat of corrosion. After that, your building should only require a fresh water cleaning using a good old fashioned garden hose and sprayer once or twice a year to remove dirt and debris build-up. If dirt, mud or other contaminants have accumulated to the degree that a hose and sprayer aren't sufficient, you can use a mild, suitable cleaner and a 4-inch, soft bristled broom with a long handle to scrub the remaining debris off the finish. Then hose the building with fresh water to rinse.

In worst-case scenarios, your building or its roof may need to be re-finished. Check with your manufacturer or a professional builder to ensure it's done correctly.


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