Bolt-Up Steel Buildings: Quick to Erect, Economical and Environmentally Friendly

Published August 21, 2017 by Whirlwind Team

bolt-up steel buildings

A bolt-up steel building is one that is prefabricated at a manufacturer and is assembled using - you guessed it: bolts! In other words, you are bolting the various pieces together instead of welding them.

Bolt-up steel buildings have several advantages over welded buildings or construction using other materials such as stone, brick, wood, or concrete. Most bolt-up steel buildings are relatively simple to erect, however, for projects like self-storage facilities and other steel buildings, it’s recommended you hire an experienced contractor and crew to ensure high quality.

Let’s look at the benefits of a bolt-up steel building and what you can expect to receive in a standard steel building package.

The 411 on bolt-up steel buildings

A prefabricated, bolt-up steel building is produced according to precise engineered drawings and designs.

  • All frame members and panels are pre-cut to specified dimensions.
  • Panels and members are pre-punched for the required bolts.
  • All fasteners and high strength steel bolts are included.
  • Any required welding is performed by the manufacturer.
  • The fabrication environment and quality are strictly controlled.

Pre-engineered steel buildings are available in many different shapes and sizes. Typically you have a selection of roof and wall panel color and finish, as well as any needed steel-framed openings are part of the design.

Steel bolt-up building kits can be single or multi-story of varying amounts of square footage.

Types of bolt-up metal buildings

Pre-manufactured bolt-up buildings can be used for almost any purpose from self-storage to residential. Many metal airplane hangars you see are bolt-up buildings as is a good portion of agricultural, recreational, and office facilities.


A bolt-up steel building may cost less up front than a weld-up steel building because welding is automated in the manufacturing facility as opposed to manual labor in the field. Since the structure bolts together faster assembly allows you to open your business and begin using your building much sooner than any other type of construction.

Welding together a building is a labor intensive endeavor. In many cases, the frame members and panels are sourced from local facilities and then cut to measure at the job site. Measurements must be precise, and on-site cutting generates waste that must be hauled away.

Welding is a specialty skill that differs from the skills needed for bolting together a premanufactured building. Each weld is made and inspected separately and, if not done correctly, can lack the strength of a bolted joint. There are welded sections in a pre-manufactured steel building, but the welds are performed at the factory and inspected for quality before leaving the vendor.

On-site cutting and welding also requires more equipment and takes longer to perform than bolting up a steel frame and panels. Finally, making repairs on a welded structure, or taking it apart and moving it, is not really possible. Once the joints are welded, you can only cut or tear out portions or tear down the building.


Benefits of metal bolt-up structures

A bolt-up frame can be easily disassembled and moved to another space, and any repairs simply require removing the damaged part and bolting a new one in its place. A bolt-up design is also easy to expand when you require more square footage.

Other advantages of a bolt-up steel building:

  • Each is designed to local building codes
  • The building comes with engineer-stamped plans
  • They are durable and easily maintained
  • They can withstand high winds, heavy snow, and seismic events
  • Panels and members are coated for resistance to rust-causing moisture
  • Steel is extremely fire-resistant, reducing your insurance costs

Fire resistance is an important consideration. For example, if a fire should start in a self-storage unit, the steel walls can help prevent it from spreading to the neighboring units and the rest of your facility. Millions of dollars can be lost in a large self-storage fire, particularly if vehicles or expensive belongings are involved. Steel walls may contain the fire and minimize the damage to a single unit.

Steel is a sustainable material, 100% recyclable and created from recycled steel. Going green is easy with reflective finishes and coatings as well as insulation. And so far, nobody has discovered any metal chewing insects or animals. The contents of a steel self-storage building are safe and secure.

What’s included in your building?

A building delivered to your jobsite comes with some standard parts.

  • Steel framing system
  • Wall sheeting
  • Roof panels
  • All bolts and screws
  • Steel trims

In addition to the basic building elements, you may have options to select:

  • Walk-in, roll-up, or other door types
  • Windows, either horizontal or vertical slide
  • Insulated panels (if desired)
  • Steel framed openings
  • Gutters and downspouts

Once your building is unloaded, your contractor should open everything to check for damage or missing parts and organize the pieces for ease of transport around the jobsite. The contractor and subcontractors should also review the instructions for assembly.

For your next steel building project, keep in mind the savings and security of a premanufactured, bolt-up steel building. It will last for decades with minimal maintenance and provide flexible space for any need.

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