How climate conditions affect steel building construction

Although climate may not seem like a major issue in building regulation, it can make or break the success of a construction project over the long-term. The United States Department of Agriculture provides a helpful climate zone map, where climate conditions in the US are separated into
seven different regions.

climate conditions


Each region has its own climate focus and issues that could impact construction, concerning building materials and even structural supports to withstand high winds. A state like Florida falls in Climate Zone 1, where contractors primarily focus on efficient building cooling in structure design and development. In Climate Zone 6, or the Upper Midwest, building energy emphasis is placed on heating instead.

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Steel buildings used for residential and commercial construction can prepare for varying weather conditions by strategically choosing the right insulation:

  • Hot climates. In a hot climate, a steel building will conduct heat, making it difficult to cool efficiently. Radiant barrier insulation can help to absorb the impact of the sun and naturally lower temperatures in hot weather.
  • Cold climates. Thermal insulation is recommended for steel buildings in cold climates to maintain temperature control. Insulation with a higher R factor works more effectively to retain heat and reduce condensation.

Regardless of the climate zone, temperature control is a chief concern in steel building construction. The right insulation choice can keep annual energy costs low, especially in regions with extreme hot or cold temperatures. Steel buildings that aren’t insulated will be subject to the elements; valuable inventory, equipment, or electronics could be corrupted by excessive heat, cold, or moisture buildup from condensation.

Climate zones and metal building construction

A steel building is a popular construction choice in any climate zone because of its durability. However, climate can dictate metal building construction and design in several key ways:

  • Protection against extreme weather conditions. In cold weather, a well-built steel structure can withstand high winds and heavy snowfall. In a hot-humid climate zone, like Climate Zone 1, steel buildings can be hurricane-proofed with extra internal bracings and rust-resistant Galvalume coated steel.
  • Waterproofing in wet climates. In all climates, steel is a sound, waterproof building material. However, a metal building erected in a particularly wet climate may need extra waterproofing accessories to protect structural vulnerabilities, like windows and doors, from excessive precipitation. Many manufacturers offer waterproofing upgrades for a basic metal structure, such as downspouts, gutters, and overhangs.
  • Location-specific structural integrity. A solid foundation is a major component in the longevity of a metal structure. In most cases, a manufacturer will ask for specific location before providing a building quote. A sturdy foundation must be built based on local weather conditions that could affect ground leveling. If moisture settles around the base of a building in a wet climate, it could eventually cause land to shift to damage a structure.

As you gather your metal building quotes, consider your climate zone to be a top priority. A metal building manufacturer should request information about the intended location and purpose of a building. This information can be used to design a sound structure that will withstand the elements, even in extreme hot or cold temperatures.