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The Different Types of Metal Buildings

Why Choose Metal Buildings?

When it comes to construction, there are many different types of metal buildings. Steel buildings are becoming increasingly popular for a variety of reasons. Steel structures offer energy efficiency, cost savings, and the highest quality steel, making them a more sustainable and cost-effective option compared to traditional construction methods using conventional construction materials. Plus, a metal building is perfectly suited for both residential and commercial purposes.

Be Aware Of These Factors Before Considering Types Of Steel Buildings

Purpose of Your Steel Structure

Before diving into the different types of metal buildings, it’s crucial to understand the purpose of your steel structure. Are you looking for residential buildings, commercial facilities, or farm buildings? Knowing this will help you choose the right building type and building materials.

The Geographic Location of the Job Site

The location of your job site can impact the types of steel buildings considered, including wind speeds and snow loads. Make sure to consider the local weather conditions and how they might affect your metal structure.

Building Permits

Don’t forget about building permits! Whether you’re erecting a metal garage or a full-fledged steel warehouse, you’ll need the proper permits to ensure your construction project is up to code.

Budget of Construction Costs

Metal buildings can be more low cost than traditional construction, but costs can still vary widely. Consider your budget carefully, keeping in mind additional expenses like interior columns or a concrete slab.

Construction Timelines

Time is money. Metal buildings generally have shorter construction timelines, especially if you opt for a DIY metal building kit. However, custom designs and larger structures may take longer.

DIY Metal Building Kit or Contractor?

Speaking of DIY, you have the option to purchase a building kit and assemble it yourself or hire building experts for the job. Both have their pros and cons, so weigh your options carefully.

Metal Building Suppliers

Choose a supplier known for their cutting-edge technology and high-quality materials. This ensures your building will meet all your exact requirements.

Traditional Construction or Metal Construction?

Still on the fence? Compare the energy efficiency, cost-effectiveness, and durability of precisely designed metal buildings vs. traditional construction materials. You’ll find that metal often comes out on top.

The Best Types of Metal Buildings

The best types of steel buildings will depend on many factors, but most of all, building types will depend on the needs of your storage areas. All in all, our structural engineer at Metal Buildings Unlimited prefers cold formed steel buildings for residential applications as well as for small office building needs. The easy installation, durability, and aesthetics make this affordable steel building one of the best types of metal buildings available today. Take a look at their versatile applications with our online design tool.

Arch Style: Quonset Hut


  • Cost-effective steel building
  • No interior columns, maximizing open space
  • Resistant to harsh weather conditions like wind speeds and snow loads


  • Limited interior height
  • Requires a concrete slab for construction

Open Web Truss


  • Less steel used, making it cost-effective
  • V-shaped cross-sections offer unique design elements


  • Less dependable structure
  • Requires additional interior columns for larger buildings

Hybrid Open Web Truss


  • Combination of V-shaped cross-sections and solid steel columns for added strength
  • Allows for electrical wiring through the rafters


  • Require on-site welding
  • Not as extensively tested as other steel building types

Tube Steel Buildings


  • Simple construction
  • Ideal for carports and other vehicles


  • Limited to open structures
  • Not suitable for commercial purposes requiring enclosed spaces
  • Not as durable as other steel structures

C-Channel Buildings


  • Economical steel buildings
  • Versatile for both residential and commercial facilities


  • Geographic limitations
  • May require consultation with building experts

Rigid Frame Buildings


  • Strong and durable steel structures
  • Ideal for commercial facilities requiring large open spaces


  • The initial cost can be high
  • Requires professional construction

Cold-Formed Buildings


  • Quick and easy to erect
  • Low cost due to less labor, less concrete, less tools
  • Aesthetically superior to other steel buildings
  • Longer lifespan than other steel buildings


  • Limited to a width of 50 feet

Structural Pre Engineered Metal Buildings (PEMB)


  • Highly durable and can withstand severe weather conditions
  • Suitable for large commercial and industrial applications


  • Requires specialized construction expertise
  • Higher initial costs

Post Frame Buildings


  • Quick steel building construction timelines
  • Suitable for agricultural applications like farm buildings


  • Not ideal for multi-story structures
  • Limited design options

Applications of Metal Building Types

From massive steel i-beam shelters to a simple metal garage, steel buildings can be shaped into any building style. The best types of metal buildings are the ones that meet your storage needs. Design a custom metal building with our metal building tool to see how steel structures have unlimited residential, agricultural, and commercial applications.

Types of Residential Metal Buildings

Metal Garages

Perfect for storing your car, tools, and other equipment.

Metal Storage Buildings

Ideal for additional space, these buildings are perfectly suited for storing seasonal items.

Types of Commercial Metal Buildings

Metal Office Building

Offers a cost-effective solution for startups and established businesses alike.

Steel Warehouse

Built with the highest quality steel, these warehouses are designed for durability and longevity.

Airplane Hangars

Designed to withstand high wind speeds and snow loads, perfect for protecting your investment.

Steel Garage

Offers a secure space for commercial storage or operations.

Types of Agricultural Steel Buildings

A red metal barn with garage door, walk in door, and several window openings.

Metal Hay Barns

Designed to protect your harvest from harsh weather.

Metal Farm Buildings

Ideal for storing large machinery and equipment.

Open Metal Structures

Perfect for animal shelters and feed storage.

Types of Metal Building Materials for a Steel Building

Galvanized Steel Framing

Known for its long-lasting durability and resistance to rust, galvanized steel framing is a popular choice for many types of metal buildings. It’s often used in structural steel buildings, also known as pre-engineered metal buildings (PEMB), where it’s coated with red oxide paint or a galvanized coating to enhance its longevity.


  • Highly durable
  • Resistant to rust and corrosion


  • Can be more expensive than other materials

Cold-Formed Steel

Cold-formed steel structures offer a lighter yet durable framing option. This material has been widely used in Australia since the 1980s and in the United States since 2005. It’s particularly beneficial for projects that require quick lead times and less concrete in the footings. For custom steel buildings that can be erected on-site with a pair of builders, a ladder, and tin snaps, it is hard to beat the arrodability and adaptability of cold-formed steel buildings.


  • Fast 3-week lead-time
  • Requires less concrete in footings
  • Easier installation
  • More Affordable


  • Building width limitation of 50 feet
  • Requires more interior columns than PEMB

Red Iron Building

Red iron buildings are known for their rigidity and durability, making them ideal for large steel structures. These buildings are often used in expansive manufacturing facilities, warehouses, and large-scale retail operations.


  • Fewer interior columns allow for greater space utilization
  • Well-suited for large clear-span buildings


  • Longest lead-time of the building types
  • Most expensive for smaller buildings

Post Frame Buildings

Post-frame buildings utilize wood columns, rafters, and trusses to create the building structure. This approach is more common and typically cost-effective for smaller buildings.


  • Design flexibility
  • Erects more quickly than structural steel buildings


  • Potential for post/column decay
  • Financing can be difficult to obtain in residential applications


Aluminum is another material often used in metal building construction. It’s lighter than steel and resistant to corrosion, making it ideal for specialized applications like airplane hangars.


  • Lightweight
  • Corrosion-resistant


  • Not as strong as steel
  • More expensive

Stainless Steel

Stainless steel is used in specialized applications where corrosion resistance and aesthetic appeal are important. It’s often used in commercial kitchens, laboratories, and medical facilities.


  • Highly corrosion-resistant
  • Aesthetic appeal


  • Expensive
  • Heavier than aluminum

By understanding the different materials available for your metal building, you can make a more informed decision that aligns with your project’s needs, whether it’s a residential garage or a Quonset hut. Each building type has its own set of advantages and limitations, so consult with building experts to determine which is best for your specific needs and geographic location.

Let Us Help You Explore The Best Types of Metal Buildings

Choosing from all the different types of metal buildings can be overwhelming. From understanding the purpose of your steel structure to considering the geographic location of the job site, several factors come into play. Whether you’re looking at energy efficiency or cost-effectiveness, we’re here to guide you through every step of the steel building process to choose the best type of metal building for you.

Adam Cotter
Adam Cotter

Adam Cotter is a certified structural engineer and owner of Metal Buildings Unlimited, as well as Cotter Enterprises, INC. Located in Enterprise, AL, his family has owned a construction and development firm in Alabama for over 30 years. When he isn’t designing metal building floor plans, Adam enjoys golfing, fishing, and spending time with family.

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