Metal buildings are versatile structures that when constructed properly can last for generations. They are also good for the environment—steel and iron are the most recycled materials in the world.
When shopping around for a metal building, especially pre-fab metal buildings like carports and storage buildings, inevitably the question comes up: tube frame or red iron frame?
Both choices have their advantages and drawbacks. Here is how to decide whether tube framing or iron framing is right for your project.
Tube Framed Metal Buildings
As the name implies, tube framed metal buildings are framed with hollow metal tubes. The tubes can be round, square, or rectangular, though most are square. Although they may resemble pipes, the diameters and thicknesses of framing tubes are different.
The biggest advantages of tube framing are the cost and ease of use. Tubes are less expensive than other building materials. They are easy to handle and require less concrete to mount. As such, they are perfect for DIY projects like carports. They also resist twisting when subjected to stress.
That being said, tube framed buildings offer less structural strength. Harsh weather can easily damage light-weight tube framing. For a tube framed metal building to last, structural posts may need to be placed every five to eight feet. This is inappropriate for some building functions and purposes. For a metal building to really stand the test of time, other framing materials should be considered.
Pros of Tube Framing:
- Great for DIY projects
Cons of Tube Framing:
- Less strong
- May require perimeter poles every five to eight feet.
Iron Framed Metal Buildings
On the other end of the spectrum, iron framed or “rigid framed” metal buildings are constructed from “red iron.” These metal structural posts are also known as “I-beams” due to their signature cross-section, shaped like a capital letter “I.”
Actually made of structural steel rather than raw iron, I-beams are popular for pre-fab metal buildings. Massively heavy and durable, they allow large, strong buildings to be erected quickly. Metal framed buildings stand the test of time. Certainly none but the deadliest harsh weather will phase them. When hurricanes hit, rigid-frame buildings tend to be the ones still standing.
The disadvantage of iron framed buildings is that I-beams are harder to work with. These heavy pieces of metal require large machinery and specialized teams to move them into place properly and safely. Heavy rigid-framed structures are also more foundation-intensive, requiring much more than a thin slab of concrete to secure. All these factors combine to make rigid framed buildings more expensive to erect.
Pros of Iron Framing:
- Strong, durable, reliable
Cons of Iron Framing:
- Higher price tag
- Requires a stronger foundation
- Not typically for DIY
Still can’t decide? Call ADCO Metals today at 985-882-3222 or 601-798-4600! Tell us about the project you have in mind. We can help you break the tie and settle on tube frame vs. iron frame for your metal building project.