How Thick Should My Steel Building Be?

Published July 20, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

steel building thickness

The thickness of your steel building should be driven by a variety of factors, like what type of building it is, the climate in the area where you live and any potential "worst case" scenarios that could compromise the building's integrity (tornadoes, earthquakes, high winds, etc.). In most cases metal buildings are constructed with a steel gauge no higher than 28; 26 gauge steel is the industry standard for most commercial and residential applications, and 24 gauge is steel is also common for standing seam panels and buildings that will experience high wind or snow loads.

Steel Building Thickness: Combine Construction Grade Steel With the Right Accessories

In addition to high-quality construction grade steel or metal panels, you'll want to consider other options that enhance the building's durability, longevity and overall comfort such as weather resistant coatings, reflective coatings and insulation. These factors will also affect the thickness of your building's walls.

Let's talk a little about the most common factors that affect the thickness of a steel or metal building panel.

Steel Gauge. Gauge (sometimes spelled 'gage') is a measurement of metal thickness, which has also come to serve as a measurement of strength. The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) has set standards for steel gauge and metal thickness. So, for example, 28 gauge steel should have an average thickness of .0187 of an inch, but cannot be less than .0157 of an inch; 26 gauge steel will have an average thickness of .0217 of an inch, with a minimum of .0187 of an inch, and so on. These standards, easily adhered to via prefabricated steel and metal building parts, are part of what make metal buildings so desirable. And, in case you are newer to the world of steel and metal building, those figures are not mistyped. Steel and metal gauge gets stronger as the numbers get smaller. Thus, a 30 gauge steel panel will be thinner and weaker than its 24 gauge counterpart.

Your metal building manufacturer will be able to recommend the appropriate gauge of product for the application, depending on your building's use and location. Keep in mind that a reputable manufacturer will never try to sell you a lower-gauge (and typically higher priced) gauge if you don't need it. In many cases, a 29 gauge ribbed panel, with a high wind rating, may be more than sufficient for your purposes and that difference in gauge - between 26 and 29 - can save you thousands of dollars.

The types of panels you choose. The types of panels you select will also affect the overall thickness of your building. Here is a quick rundown of the most common types of panels and their thicknesses, courtesy of the Whole Building Design Guide:

  • Lap-Seam metal panels: Formed from metal panels, lap-seam metal panels are ship-lapped with other panels and the total thickness is less than 1/2-inch.
  • Composite metal wall panels: These panels are thicker since they are made from two separate metal panels with a different insulating material in the center. Due to their construction, they are typically stronger than lap-seam options and can cut down construction time considerably since insulation is included. The width of these panels will vary depending on the type and thickness of insulation you choose, typically measuring between 1.2 inch to 2+ inches thick.
  • Flat plate metal wall panels: These panels are extremely durable and resistant to high impact. They are made from 1/8-inch thick metal plates that can be bent according to the design. Many metal building fabricators use flat plate metal wall panels and adhere metal extrusions to them to create their systems.
  • Metal-faced composite panels: These panels use two metal facings adhered to a thin thermoplastic core. They are not as resistant to impact as a flat plate metal wall panel but stiffeners can often be welded to the rear surface of the panels for added support. Metal faced composite panels are typically 1/4-inch thick and no more than 1/2-inch thick.

Steel or metal Coatings. Steel gauge is measured before any paint or coatings have been added. While most coatings will minimally affect a component's overall thickness, they greatly enhance the material's performance. At the bare minimum, most steel panel coatings are designed to protect the metal from water and environmental elements, such as salt air and airborne pollutants that can begin to react with the metals and contribute to their corrosion over time.

Then, there are specific coatings available for more extreme weather and moisture protection, or to increase a building's resistance to fire. There are coatings used to increase a roof's reflectivity and emissivity, or to magnify the effects of solar heat gain in areas with a cooler climate.

Please contact the representatives at Whirlwind Steel to discuss the recommended thickness for your upcoming steel building project.

The thickness of your steel building should be driven by a variety of factors, like what type of building it is, the climate in the area where you live and any potential "worst case" scenarios that could compromise the building's integrity (tornadoes, earthquakes, high winds, etc.). In most cases metal buildings are constructed with a steel gauge no higher than 28; 26 gauge steel is the industry standard for most commercial and residential applications, and 24 gauge is steel is also common for standing seam panels and buildings that will experience high wind or snow loads.

Steel Building Thickness: Combine Construction Grade Steel With the Right Accessories

In addition to high-quality construction grade steel or metal panels, you'll want to consider other options that enhance the building's durability, longevity and overallcomfortsuch as weather resistant coatings, reflectivecoatingsand insulation. These factors will also affect the thickness of your building's walls.

Let's talk a little about the most common factors that affect the thickness of a steel or metal building panel.

Steel Gauge. Gauge (sometimes spelled 'gage') is a measurement of metal thickness, which has also come to serve as a measurement of strength. The American Iron and Steel Institute (AISI) has set standards for steel gauge and metal thickness. So, for example, 28 gauge steel should have an average thickness of .0187 of an inch, but cannot be less than .0157 of an inch; 26 gauge steel will have an average thickness of .0217 of an inch, with a minimum of .0187 of an inch, and so on. These standards, easily adhered to via prefabricated steel and metal building parts, are part of what make metal buildings so desirable. And, in case you are newer to the world of steel and metal building, those figures are not mistyped. Steel and metal gauge gets stronger as the numbers get smaller. Thus, a 30 gauge steel panel will be thinner and weaker than its 24 gauge counterpart.

Your metal building manufacturer will be able to recommend the appropriate gauge of product for the application, depending on your building's use and location. Keep in mind that a reputable manufacturer will never try to sell you alower-gauge(and typically higher priced) gauge if you don't need it. In many cases, a 29 gauge ribbed panel, with a high wind rating, may be more than sufficient for your purposes and that difference in gauge - between 26 and 29 - can save you thousands of dollars.

The types of panels you choose. The types of panels you select will also affect the overall thickness of your building. Here is a quick rundown of the most common types of panels and their thicknesses, courtesy of the Whole Building Design Guide:

  • Lap-Seam metal panels: Formed from metal panels, lap-seam metal panels are ship-lapped with other panels and the total thickness is less than 1/2-inch.
  • Composite metal wall panels: These panels are thicker since they are made from two separate metal panels with a different insulating material in the center. Due to their construction, they are typically stronger than lap-seam options and can cut down construction time considerably since insulation is included. The width of these panels will vary depending on the type and thickness of insulation you choose, typically measuring between 1.2inchto 2+ inches thick.
  • Flat plate metal wall panels: These panels are extremely durable and resistant to high impact. They are made from 1/8-inch thick metal plates that can be bent according to the design. Many metal building fabricators use flat plate metal wall panels and adhere metal extrusions to them to create their systems.
  • Metal-faced composite panels: These panels use two metal facings adhered to a thin thermoplastic core. They are not as resistant to impact as a flat plate metal wallpanelbut stiffeners can often be welded to the rear surface of the panels for added support. Metal faced composite panels are typically 1/4-inch thick and no more than 1/2-inch thick.

Steel or metal Coatings. Steel gauge is measured before any paint or coatings have been added. While most coatings will minimally affect a component's overall thickness, they greatly enhance the material's performance. At the bare minimum, most steel panel coatings are designed to protect the metal from water and environmental elements, such as salt air and airborne pollutants that can begin to react with the metals and contribute to their corrosion over time.

Then, there are specific coatings available for more extreme weather and moisture protection, or to increase a building's resistance to fire. There are coatings used to increase a roof's reflectivity and emissivity, or to magnify the effects of solar heat gain in areas with a cooler climate.

Please contact the representatives at Whirlwind Steel to discuss the recommended thickness for your upcoming steel building project.

 

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