Will a Steel Building Outlast Hurricane Season?

Published August 26, 2015 by Whirlwind Team

Hurricanes are not unusual when you live in the path of tropical storm patterns. However, elevating climatic temperatures are making them more common - and more disastrous - than ever.

After watching the destruction caused by recent hurricanes, like Andrew, Katrina, Irene and Ike, property owners and builders are placing an increasing emphasis on building materials that can withstand superstorm conditions. Steel buildings are one of the most popular choices due to their ability to experience hurricane-force winds and remain standing.

Steel Buildings Outlast Hurricanes With the Right Design Details

While a steel building can survive during hurricane season, it will only do so it if it's engineered and built correctly. There are three factors that determine whether a building can withstand the rigors of a hurricane - including elevated wind speeds, debris impact and the deluge of water that accompanies it. Those are:

  • Engineering and design
  • Material durability
  • Its ability to resist rust

A lack in one of these areas can cause weaknesses that make your building just as susceptible to damage as a traditionally constructed, wood-framed building.

Tips For Building a Hurricane-Worthy Steel Building

The following tips will help to ensure your building is still standing after a devastating tropical storm.

Work with a reputable steel building manufacturer. This is such an important step in your building's design process. The building manufacturer is integral to the engineering - and then the pre-fabrication - of your steel and metal building parts. Choosing an experienced and reputable metal building manufacturer gives you the benefit of their engineering expertise. The minute you tell them you're building a residential, commercial or agricultural building in an area prone to hurricanes (or tornadoes, or earthquakes, or heavy snow loads...) their team will immediately steer you in the right direction.

They will rule out any materials unable to withstand the potential elements your steel building will be exposed to and will get to work on designing a building that is up to Mother Nature's specific challenges in your location.

Choose the right architect and contractor. Work with a licensed architect and contractor who are experienced with both steel building designs. Your architect can work with your metal building manufacturer to design a building that can withstand high wind loads and uplift from any direction. A licensed and experienced metal building contractor will ensure the building is constructed solidly.

Use high-quality building materials. Just like any product out there, steel and metal building components range from lower- to higher-quality. High-quality products will have a lower-gauge number, which correlates to the material's thickness. In the world of metal, lower gauge numbers mean a thicker material, so don't get confused. The lower the metal gauge, the more durable it will be.

Protective coatings also make a difference in your building's ability to withstand water, moisture, heavy rain and the high salt content that is often an issue in coastal areas prone to hurricanes. Thus, a high-quality protective coating on metal building panels will add to your building's overall ability to outlast a hurricane as well as a lifetime of tropical storms.

Keep moisture damage to a minimum. We often say moisture is a steel building's Achilles heel, hence the attention to protective coatings. Once your building starts to rust and corrode, irreparable damage can occur quickly if you aren't careful. Ways to prevent post-storm rust that leads to corrosion include:

  • Using the right protective coatings. Galvanized steel is the most popular coated product but there are other steel coatings out there. GALVALUME is another popular option and it has benefits that galvanized steel does not. Your metal building manufacturer will help you determine which protective coatings are best for your building components.
  • Executing immediate repairs. If you notice any small areas of wear and tear, faded paint, or areas where there is rust, contact a licensed metal building contractor and have them repaired immediately. The sooner you attend to the damage, the less damage will manifest overall and you will also protect the building from any sudden or unexpected storm damage.
  • Dry out the building immediately. If your building does experience severe wind or moisture such that areas of the building leak or are compromised in some way, attend to the damage and dry the building out completely. Any latent moisture trapped in interior wall, attic or roof spaces can continue to wreak havoc in the form of rust, mold or mildew.

Steel buildings are so notorious for their ability to resist hurricanes, tornadoes and other natural disasters that they are typically the first choice for municipal buildings, churches and schools - buildings often designated as "safe zones" when wide-scale evacuations take place.

Working with a reputable building manufacturer and building professionals, choosing high-quality materials and tending to post-storm maintenance will ensure your steel building stays put after the storm.

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