10 Crucial Aspects of a Solid Steel Building Covering System

steelIn order for a covering system to serve its function properly, it must have certain features. These features should be considered by steel building owners when choosing said system for their steel structure.

Want to know what makes a good covering system for a steel building? Read on below to find out. Keep these in mind before you have such a structure constructed.


A covering system must look good because it is the first thing that people see. While it is important for all steel buildings to look attractive, it is most important for commercial and community structures to look their best. These structures need to present to the public a decent fa├žade in order to draw the right kind of people. For commercial buildings like shopping centres, the covering should draw people in and invite them to take a look inside and maybe spend some time there. In the case of community structures like public offices, the covering must help provide a respectable image that the public will recognize and acknowledge.

Protection from elements

A covering system must be effective in protecting the structure from the elements. Water in particular is a major threat, as it is the cause of most concerns regarding repair and maintenance. Regardless of its form (i.e. rain, snow, ice), water can seep through small openings on the wall or roof and do major damage to the building’s interiors in the form of saturated insulation, rotting or corrosion. This is why it is necessary for all components of the covering system (such as flashings, panels, fasteners and sealants) to come together to protect the structure from ruin. These should be properly assembled or installed during steel building construction.

Structural strength and stability

Each component of the covering system needs to be strong and possess the necessary structural properties. This is because the covering system is the steel building’s first line of defence. The system must be able to resist loads and forces so that the structure itself can do the same.

Take the roof, for instance. Not only should it be able to support its own weight but also loads such as snow and ice, among others. It should also be wind-resistant. As for the walls, these should also resist wind loads and uplift too, not to mention abuse.

Expansion and contraction

Believe it or not, all components of a covering system can change with the temperature. They can expand or contract. Cold temperature causes the components to contract while hot temperature is responsible for their expansion. All steel buildings must be designed with these changes in mind, so that the components have room for modification. Otherwise, the building’s integrity will be compromised.

Movable joints are those that allow movement that result from expansion and contraction. These can be found in steel bridges and concrete highways. It is important to note that an adequate number of joints should be used and these must be properly spaced. If not, the walls can crack.

Proper insulation

A covering system must do two things. First, it keeps the inside of the structure warm during winter by keeping the heat in. Second, it keeps the inside of the structure cool during summer by keeping the heat out. A good covering system does both, making the steel building more energy efficient.


Moisture condensation protection

Proper insulation is necessary to protect the building from another big problem: moisture condensation. Another form of water, moisture is a major threat to steel buildings and its contents because it can cause rotting, rusting and the growth of mould and mildew. In fact, even paints are not exempted from damage: exterior paints can be blistered if the roof or wall does not feature a barrier that disallows moisture from penetrating.

Water vapour can be found in all structures, but some structures (like laundry shops) have more of them because its use or function. In order to prevent moisture penetration, a covering system must have an insulating component (like vapour barriers), that which halts or avoids vapour penetration.

Sound resistance

Steel building owners must know that once sound waves hit a surface, it can be absorbed, reflected and transmitted. The amount absorbed, reflected and transmitted by the covering system will depend on different factors, including the materials used and their properties.

Fire prevention

It goes without saying that fire is a threat to buildings, steel or not, so it is absolutely necessary that the covering system be able to resist the start or spread of fire. When choosing a covering system, one must be mindful of the fire protection classification of the building materials. Building owners can consult their local zoning and code authorities for more information regarding this matter. Investing in fire- resistant materials is a must, as these influence that kind of rate one will get for building insurance.


A good covering system is not too expensive or too cheap. Its economy is best assessed with regards to the steel building’s use and the value the owner attaches to it. The overall price must include not only the expenses upfront but also future costs due to maintenance and repairs, among others.

Easy accessory installation 

Of course, all buildings need doors and windows. Accessories like these should be accommodated by the covering system to allow ease of installation. Moreover, the covering system must be flexible enough to allow the relocation of said accessories if the building’s function or operations become different.

Michael Harrington wrote this article. The author, who often writes articles about building design and assembly, contributes content for Steel Buildings Design.

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