Good news. You can expect your steel building’s life expectancy to be at least 50 to 100 years when it’s correctly built and maintained. Thanks to its durable metal, steel buildings demonstrate exceptional performance and resilience, lasting longer than concrete or wood structures.
They effectively resist deterioration caused by mold, termites, and moisture, and maintain their structural integrity even during natural disasters.
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What Helps Steel Buildings Stand the Test of Time?
Steel Buildings that Resist Corrosion
By applying a barrier coating like paint or galvanization, steel buildings can resist corrosion caused by contact with water and oxygen. This ensures that the building’s strength and serviceability are upheld throughout its life.
Wood and concrete constructions have corrosion problems too. In the case of wood, excessive moisture can lead to the corrosion of metal nails or screws and ultimately weaken the wood. In reinforced concrete structures, corrosion of the steel can negatively impact the concrete, causing cracking and delamination.
Steel Buildings Unaffected by Moisture
Unlike wood or concrete, steel construction doesn’t expand or contract with moisture content. Since it doesn’t warp, crack, split, or creep, it stays strong and straight throughout its life. The isotropic nature of steel lends equal strength in all directions, making it structurally stable.
The lower moisture-absorbing capacity of steel prevents issues like rot and mold from damaging the structure, unlike wood or concrete constructions prone to moisture-related issues.
Steel Buildings That Keep Pests at Bay
Steel buildings are resistant to pests like termites, which can help you save on repair and maintenance costs in the long term. Cold-formed steel (CFS) is recognized by the International Residential Code as a method to comply with termite-resistant construction requirements.
In comparison, wood-eating termites alone cause billions of dollars in damage to structures in the U.S. every year, greatly reducing the lifespan of wood-framed buildings.
Read More: Metal Buildings vs Wooden Outbuildings Guide
Exceptional Strength and Durability of Steel Buildings
Steel’s remarkable comprehensive and tensile strength, combined with ductility (the ability to bend without breaking), allows it to resist severe weather conditions like strong winds and earthquakes. This makes steel buildings last much longer.
The Secret Behind Steel’s Strength
Steel’s strength comes from its alloyed composition of iron, carbon, and other elements like manganese, silicon, phosphorus, sulfur, and oxygen. The smelting process heats the metal, further increasing its strength.
Building disaster-resistant wood structures can be quite costly, and while concrete has high compressive strength, it lacks the tensile strength required to protect against seismic forces. Reinforcing it with steel rebar adds to the expense.
Fire Resistance in Steel Buildings
Steel buildings help slow down the spread of fire, thereby saving lives and allowing emergency responders to arrive and commence their job. In contrast, combustible wood structures may spread flames more quickly, putting occupants and the structure at risk.
By incorporating features like corrosion resistance, moisture resistance, pest resistance, strength, and fire resistance, steel buildings can last for a long time, making them a worthwhile investment.
8 Steel Building Maintenance Tips
1. Keep Surrounding Greenery Trimmed
Ensure that trees and hedges around your steel building do not obstruct airflow or cause pressure on the building’s sides. Maintain a minimum distance of a foot between hedges and the building to prevent any stress on the foundation and walls.
2. Regularly Inspect Building Site and Roof
Keep your steel building’s exterior clear of objects like tools, roof panels, and metal shavings. Removing these items prevents unnecessary weight and moisture accumulation, which could potentially lead to rust.
3. Seal Holes in Walls Protecting Insulation
Close any gaps in the walls to prevent pest infiltration and moisture build-up within the insulation. This will minimize the risk of structural damage caused by mold and rust.
4. Wash Your Steel Building Frequently
To prevent grime, dirt, and potential mold and rust formation, regularly inspect your steel building for discoloration or residue. It’s a good practice to wash your entire building, inside and out, twice a year.
5. Check Seals on Doors, Windows, and Garage Doors
Examine the seals around doors, windows, and garage doors for any signs of leaks or mold. Repair and clean them as needed. Also, inspect the garage door’s cables, rollers, auto-reverse safety, tracks, and overall cleanliness to protect your steel building from water exposure.
6. Touch Up Scratches with Paint
Cover any exposed metal substrate with primers and paint to prevent moisture exposure, which can cause rust and mold. Regularly check your steel building for scratches and minor abrasions.
7. Maintain Gutters and Drains
Ensure gutters and drains are free from dirt, sticks, and debris to prevent water overflow that can lead to mold and rust. It’s essential to examine them at least twice a year.
8. Promptly Clear Snow from the Roof
Snow buildup can exert significant stress on a steel building and may even cause it to buckle. Remove snow from the roof as soon as possible, preferably with the help of a professional, to avoid any damage to your steel building’s structure.
Frequently Asked Questions
How long can metal buildings last on average?
The average lifespan of a metal building depends on the type of metal used and the quality of construction.
Generally, metal buildings made with quality materials and proper maintenance can last for several decades. You can expect over a 100-year lifespan for steel buildings with proper care.
How do metal structures compare in durability to other materials?
Metal buildings often outlast traditional wood, brick, or stone structures due to their resistance to issues such as rot, infestation, and wear and tear.
While traditional building materials may require more frequent maintenance and repairs, metal structures generally require less upkeep over time to maintain their structural integrity and aesthetics.
What factors contribute to a metal building’s durability?
Some factors that impact the durability of a metal structure include:
- Type and quality of metal used(e.g., high-quality steel)
- Quality and precision of the construction process
- Proper regular maintenance
- Environmental conditions and exposure to corrosive elements
- Design/layout of the building, including its ability to accommodate expansion/contraction from temperature fluctuations
How can the lifespan of a metal building be prolonged?
To extend the life of a metal building:
- Ensure proper design and quality construction
- Conduct regular inspections to identify any potential issues early
- Address any minor repairs before they turn into major problems
- Implement proper maintenance practices (e.g., coating the exterior surfaces with a protective finish, ensuring proper drainage, etc.)
Do environmental factors have an effect on metal building longevity?
Yes, environmental conditions can impact a metal building’s lifespan.
For instance, buildings in areas with high humidity, extreme temperatures, or exposure to corrosive elements (such as saltwater) may require specific protective measures and coatings to maintain their integrity.
Regular inspections and maintenance can also help extend the life of a metal building in such environmental conditions.
Are there various metals with different life expectancies?
Different metals do have varying life expectancies, depending on factors such as their composition, corrosion resistance, and structural integrity.
For example, steel buildings are typically known for their durability and longevity, with proper maintenance. Other metals like aluminum or galvanized steel may offer different levels of structural strength, resistance to corrosion, and varying lifespans.
It’s important to research and consider the specific metal type and quality for your building project.