A steel garage kit offers a number of advantages over pole buildings and conventional wood-frame buildings. Ease of construction, resistance to fire and insect damage, and lower fire insurance rates make them an attractive option.
A metal garage kit can be one of several different designs. First there is the arch style building that is based on a Quonset hut design, with no inner structure. Then there is the conventional vertical sidewall type with heavy solid I-beams or open-web columns and trusses. Last is the light frame steel design, which can use tubular steel or small steel beams for the structure. We will focus on the light frame design here.
Smaller light frame steel garage kits can often be assembled by the do-it-yourselfer without lifting equipment. The components are light enough that in most cases on smaller buildings, they can be lifted by one person. You just need one or two helpers to hold them while they are bolted in place or screws are installed. However, because the support components are smaller and lighter, a light frame metal building kit will have more components than you would with a heavy, solid I-beam structure or open-web truss type building.
One of the more popular types of kit for steel residential garages is the slip-fit, tubular frame type of structure. Steel tube buildings are the lightest of the light steel frame buildings. There are companies such as VersaTube and Absolute Steel (among others) that offer metal garage kits with the structure made of 2" x 3" or 2" x 4" hollow tubing.
Each section of tube slips into the end of its mate, and then the tubes are held together by screws. The vertical columns fit into or onto a bottom rail that is bolted to a concrete slab, or concrete piers sunk into the ground. Steel tube buildings are the easiest to construct due to the light weight of all the components – one company states that the heaviest part of its kit weighs less than thirty pounds!
A tubular steel building kit can have rounded roof corners with no overhang, similar to a steel arch building. You can also get steel tube buildings that have sharp corners (no overhang) like a conventional metal building, or eaves and overhangs that look just like a normal residential outbuilding. On some designs, you can get just the frame and add whatever type of siding and roofing you like. Or you can start off with just a frame and a roof (like a carport), and add sides later.
Here is a video showing the details of how a VersaTube building is put together. Be forewarned, this isn't an overview, but rather a detailed assembly video. I was not able to find a decent "overview" video, but this one gives you a good idea of what is involved in assembling one of these buildings.
It is possible for the interior of some tubular steel garage kits to be finished with inner walls of sheetrock or paneling, and they can be insulated also. Make sure the model you are looking at offers this capability if that is something you want to do.
Some light frame metal garage kits use small I-beams for added strength. The support columns are spaced closely together just like in steel tube buildings, but the building can be larger and taller than tubular steel building kits allow.
The advantage here is that the building is easier to insulate and finish on the inside, and it doesn't require the extra-heavy foundation that a rigid steel building needs under each column. You also don't have large columns in your way, taking up valuable interior space. You will need the use of a crane or other lifting device to get the roof trusses into place, though.
Light frame metal building kits are definitely worth a look if you are planning on building a garage. They can be constructed much more quickly than a stick built wood frame structure, and don't require any carpentry skills. A residential steel garage kit can be built in a matter of days! Before making a decision though, you will also want to take a look at our other pages on Metal Garage Kits, Steel Garage Buildings, and Steel Arch Buildings. For information on other alternatives to metal, explore our Related Pages menu on the right near the top of this page.
A metal building is virtually maintenance-free, you don't have to worry about damage from insects or rodents, and the building itself won't burn. They are easy and quick to assemble without any special skills. Light frame steel garage kits are one of the best options for a do-it-yourselfer to save time and money when building a garage.