Strength is a factor that will come into play if you’re looking for a metal building that will stand the test of time. In the world of steel construction, steel strength is measured by thickness, or steel gauge.
Steel gauge size and thickness
As you shop for metal buildings, you’re likely to see a wide variety of steel gauge sizes advertised to support the strength of a metal structure.
Remember, steel gauge corresponds directly with thickness:
- 29 gauge – 0.0145″
- 26 gauge – 0.0185″
- 24 gauge – 0.0230″
- 22 gauge – 0.0290″
- 16 gauge – 0.0540″
- 15 gauge – 0.0620″
- 14 gauge – 0.0690″
- 13 gauge – 0.0830″
- 12 gauge – 0.0940″
A number of high-quality metal structures are built with 26 gauge steel panels; according to the chart above, a 26 gauge panel will have a minimum thickness of 0.0185″.
In steel construction, a lower metal gauge number means a thicker material. For example, typical metal roof gauges may come as 26 or 29 gauge: a 26 gauge metal roof is 35% heavier than a 29 gauge metal roof to provide more structural integrity. Pre-fabricated metal roofs may be constructed at 22 or 24 gauge.
To give you a clearer picture of gauge strength, some steel building manufacturers advertise that their 26 gauge roofs are sturdy enough to support an adult running up and down the roof structure. A lower gauge offers improved strength and durability, as well as better impact and wind resistance.
Choosing the right metal structure and gauge
Popular designs in metal building construction include straight wall steel buildings, available with straight column or gable roofs:
- Straight column roof: Offers wide open interior space, ideal for office/retail use or RV storage. Roof span typically doesn’t exceed 70′.
- Gable roof: Has two sloping sides that meet in a triangle on top of a structure; offers large interior space for churches, recreational facilities, and office complexes. Symmetrical gables provide up to 200′ wide clear span; unsymmetrical gables provide up to 175′ wide clear span.
Common industry standards for straight wall steel buildings with either straight column or gable roofs fall at 24 or 26 gauge wall and roof panels.
As a rule, a straight wall metal building is more expensive than an arched roof Quonset hut design, frequently used in military structures. A straight wall metal building estimated at 20′ x 30′ may start at $12,300, including building materials, accessories, and delivery fees.