Steel Garage Buildings - Rigid Steel Frame Garage vs. The Rest
There are several different types of steel garage buildings available. Pole barns, steel arch buildings, slip-fit tube and light frame steel buildings each offer their own advantages, but the strongest and most robust design is the rigid steel frame garage.
A rigid steel frame building is most often used for commercial and industrial applications. The exterior can be covered with any material you like - brick, stone, stucco, even wood or log siding, so that it looks like a conventional wood frame structure. However, most rigid frame buildings use metal for the exterior walls because of its low cost.
Rigid steel frame buildings use heavy, solid I-beams for both the outer wall columns and the roof structure. The I-beams can be either tapered or straight, depending on design requirements.
A rigid frame building will have fewer wall support columns spaced further apart than similarly sized pole barns or light frame steel garage buildings. The strength of the solid beams provides the potential for taller heights and longer spans than other types of structures.
This makes them particularly suited to commercial or industrial use. The stronger columns can be designed for the ability to support interior loads that lighter-duty types of metal buildings can't match. They also can be designed for static roof loads such as HVAC units if needed. Other metal building designs such as the steel arch building, pole building or slip-fit light frame structure just don't have this capability.
A rigid steel frame garage usually has a low pitched roof, which uses less material and will cost less than a steeper roof. The low peak height means there is less area to heat and cool, saving money on energy costs. A low-pitched roof also adds flexibility if you decide to expand in the future. You can continue the roof line further and still have an acceptable interior height.
Here is a short video that gives you an idea of what is involved in the erection process:
Rigid frame steel garage buildings are not without their disadvantages, though. The rigid frame structure is very popular for commercial buildings, but very few smaller, residential garages use this design. Why?
The biggest reason is probably the cost. The big, heavy structure of a rigid frame building is more expensive than a "lighter" design, and it requires more concrete for the foundation than other types of construction. The components must also be handled with a crane, which adds construction expense. For a residential or hobby sized garage, other designs simply cost less to build. A rigid frame design is overkill for a small to medium size structure.
Second, most rigid steel frame buildings look out of place in a residential area due to the low-pitched roof. A low-pitched roof is also more prone to leaks than a steeper roof. Sure, you can build a rigid steel frame garage with a steeper roof pitch and add overhangs to look more like a traditional building, but that again adds expense.
Large columns take up interior space that lighter construction methods don't. If you are finishing the garage with interior walls, each column must be boxed around. If the design has tapered columns, that adds complexity to the boxing job, too.
Rigid frame steel buildings are very well suited for commercial applications. They offer a number of potential advantages over other types of construction. However, if your need is for a smaller, residential garage or hobby shop, you may be better off looking at pole barn kits, a steel arch building, or even wooden garage kits. These types of buildings are less expensive and easier to construct.