Wood has been a popular framing and construction for many centuries. But thanks to modern advances in materials and engineering, more and more property owners are now choosing cold-formed steel (also known as light-gauge steel) as the primary structural material for their building applications. What makes light-gauge steel better than wood? All sorts of things.
Among other features and benefits to note, light-gauge steel is strong – it’s actually one of the strongest-available construction materials there is. Steel is also more durable, more versatile, and even more sustainable than most lumber used in wood construction. Steel is naturally incombustible too, so you won’t have the same fire threats. In addition, galvanized steel doesn’t rot, shrink, or warp, and isn’t really threatened by moisture or pests, either. For these reasons, metal carports, metal garages, and metal building kits really are a smart choice.
Another thing that makes steel tube framing special is the manner in which it is made. It all starts with carbon steel, formed by adding small amounts of carbon to molten iron or steel scrap. The molten steel is poured into thinner strips to cool, and then the resulting rolls of steel rolls go through the process of being galvanized. Through galvanization, a protective coating of zinc is added to help prevent corrosion; the zinc coating also gives the steel a nice visual luster. Once finished, these coils of galvanized steel can be pressed into all manner of metal building components. Metal building manufacturers use this steel to fabricate frames, trusses, roof panels, wall panels, trim, and more.
If you’ve ever done any hunting or have been around firearms in general, you probably already know the term gauge. Where a firearm is concerned, the gauge describes the diameter of the barrel bore. For example, a lower-gauge gun has a larger bore than a higher-gauge gun.
But when it comes to metal structures, a gauge is used to describe the thickness of the metal used to fabricate a particular building component. In the American metal building industry, frame tubing is most commonly fabricated from either 14-gauge steel (up to 0.0747 inches thick) or 12-gauge steel (up to 0.1046 inches thick). Similarly, the metal paneling used for roofs, walls, and trim are usually fabricated with either 29-gauge steel (up to .0149 inches thick) or 26-gauge steel (up to .0179 inches thick).
If you do the math from the thickness numbers listed above, 12-gauge tubing is approximately .0299 inches thicker than 14-gauge tubing. The rule of thickness when it comes to steel tubing is that the lower the gauge number, the thicker, heavier, and stronger the steel is.
So, what difference does .0299 inches make? When it comes to steel, quite a bit! The steel used for building framing has to be thick enough and strong enough to support the weight of the roof, along with any side paneling and other features which may be mounted. And certain buildings require a thicker gauge of steel to be used, including buildings of larger dimensions, or metal buildings intended for commercial or industrial usage.
→ 14-gauge steel is the most popular tube option for light-gauge steel building framing in America. It’s a little lighter to work with than 12-gauge tubing, and it’s a little cheaper, too. 14-gauge steel can be used to construct a dependable metal building for many useful applications. And many 14-gauge metal buildings can be certified to meet certain minimum wind loads and snow loads, as well.
→ 12-gauge steel does cost a bit more than 14-gauge, but it also delivers more benefits. A metal structure framed with 12-gauge steel is stronger, more durable, and more weather-resistant. In some areas of the country where more severe weather is common, 12-gauge framing is actually required for many metal building applications.
If 12-gauge framing isn’t a requirement in your local area, then the choice is really up to you. You could save a little money by going with 14-gauge, but there are some good reasons to choose a 12-gauge upgrade as well. If wind storms or heavy snows are more common in your area, a 12-gauge steel frame will offer more strength and stability. And if your planned metal building is large or commercial-sized, 12-gauge steel provides more support. But if all you’re looking to install is a small carport, RV cover, or garage, then a 14-gauge steel frame may be all you really need.
To learn more about the benefits of choosing steel for your custom building application, just reach out to one of our building experts at Winslows Custom Buildings! We’d be glad to answer whatever questions you may have. Ready to get the custom metal building of your dreams? That’s what we’re here to provide!
Nobody serves your metal building, portable building, and pole barn needs in TX, OK, LA, AR, and CO better than Winslows. We manufacture all of our buildings right here in Texas, and we’re up to over 100 retail locations, and growing. Give us a call at (800) 636-4700 today!
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