Steel Building Components Integrate Variety into Pre-Engineered Designs


The unique color, style, and functionality of steel building components enable the personalization of any steel structure. Before speaking to a seller or even sketching out a rough idea of your intended blueprint, review the following options – it’s a lot more cost-effective to add the bells and whistles in advance than after the fact.

Primary framing

Framing will largely be determined by your intended use. Start by consulting with your steel building seller or personal contractor about the benefits of a clearspan design versus a multispan, single slope, or lean-to frame. Each provides a combination of functionalities and cost-savings. But depending on application and environment, one design may be better suited to your needs than another.

Regardless of the design you choose, you’ll be looking at beams. Installed at either end of a steel building, beams reinforce the design and can take three different forms:

  1. Endwall columns serve as the main support for the endwalls. The number of endwall columns are determined by the structure’s width
  2. Endwall rafters provide a similar function to the endwall columns except they support the roof
  3. Endwall girts aid in further reinforcing the endwalls, securely attaching to the endwall columns

It’s worth noting that post and beam endwalls are usually considered standard among most sellers. However, upgrading to a rigid steel frame endwall may be advisable if you plan to add to the structure in the future or if you need a larger than normal opening, like those required by bulky vehicles, machinery, or aircraft.

Secondary framing

Commonly known as “secondary structurals,” these components are crucial for the structural integrity of many steel buildings and are typically manufactured from cold-formed steel. They’re a framing component that’s positioned between the primary framing supports. In this way, they form an inner structure that evenly distributes weight load among the main framing supports and the building’s foundation. Similar to cross-beams in standard construction, they are also engineered to provide longitudinal support that further braces the structure against wind and earthquakes.

Broken into three different components, secondary framing includes:

  1. Purlins – A purlin is a secondary horizontal structural component that supports the roof within low rise construction, often making it more rigid by adding mid-span reinforcement. Shaped like the letter “Z,” it comes in a variety of gauges (16, 14, 13, and 12), depths (6”, 8”, 10”, and 12”), and finishes (primed or pre-galvanized). Lengths are determined by design. So once you’ve determined the specific function of your metal building, you’ll need to work with an engineer to figure out the best purlin length.
  2. Girts – A girt is another type of secondary structural support responsible for supporting the wall panels and attaching wall cladding. Similar to purlins, it comes in a multiple gauges (16, 14, 13, and 12), depths (4”, 6”, 8”, 10”, and 12”), and finishes (primed or pre-galvanized), with lengths that are mandated by design requirements.
  3. Eave struts – Eave struts are a structural reinforcement that’s positioned where sidewalls interconnect with the roof. Commonly referred to as eave girts or eave purlins (as it’s a hybrid of the two), it comes in a multiple gauges (16, 14, 13, and 12), depths (8”, 10”, and 12”), and finishes (primed or pre-galvanized), with lengths that match the length of the bay.

Walls and roofing

The walls and roof of a steel building serve two functions: they provide a barrier against the elements while delivering aesthetics through attractive designs. There are multiple types of both available, each providing a combination of durability and style. For example:

  • Superspan designs are often the most popular as they’re engineered to provide extreme strength at affordable cost. Manufactured from 29-, 26-, or 24-gauge steel, they feature a yield strength of 80,000 psi and come in more than 20 different colors. Designed to resist corrosion, they also include a zinc-aluminum coating and are typically UL 580 up-lift tested (Class 90 rated) and UL 2218 hail impact resistant tested (Class 4). A 40-year paint warranty is often standard.
  • Monarch designs shift the appearance slightly to provide main ribs that are 1-inch high and 12 inches on center. Further improving the appearance, panel screws are somewhat concealed by the design to add extra refinement to the overall aesthetic. Monarch panels are manufactured in 26- and 24-gauge steel (with the 24-gauge intended for windier environments), and feature a yield strength of 80,000 psi. Often considered a worthy substitute for Superspan panels, the Monarch variety is also available in more than 20 colors, includes the same zinc-aluminum coating, and is typically UL 580 up-lift tested (Class 90 rated) and UL 2218 hail impact resistant tested (Class 4). Plus, the same 40-year paint warranty often applies.

Additional accessories

In addition to the shape and durability of your steel structure, there are a number of additional upgrades that can prevent soggy mess around the building during wet weather and keep you warm or cool depending on the seasonal climate. These include:

  • Gutters and downspouts – Though not required, gutters and downspouts are highly effective at channeling rainwater away from your metal structure and preventing the buildup of standing water after a heavy rain. Similar to the wall and roof components, they are typically constructed of 26-gauge steel and come in more than 20 colors, featuring the same zinc-aluminum coating and 40-year paint guarantee.
  • Insulation – Ranging between thicknesses of 2 inches and 12 inches, the best fiberglass insulation is vinyl backed and reinforced. This added durability prevents it from tearing and falling apart over time. It’s often recommended to insulate the roof of your steel building (at the very least) as the insulation serves as a vapor barrier, preventing condensation from forming underneath the roof (and dripping incessantly throughout the structure). Going even further, some sellers can provide R-value insulation, starting at R-30, for colder, damper climates.