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Steel Building Glossary: Your Guide to Industry Terms

Steel Building Glossary

As you start your steel building project, you’ll inevitably come across a number of technical engineering terms. Our industry, as much as we love it, likes to use a lot of jargon. In a lot of cases, that’s important (for engineering purposes) but it can be confusing for the end consumer – that’s you!

In a bid to make your steel building experience less confusing and ultimately more enjoyable, we’ve created a steel building glossary, listing all the terminology you’re likely to encounter.

Commonly-Used Steel Building Terminology

Anti-condensation – Sometimes condensation can gather on the roofs of non-insulated steel buildings. Anti-condensation roofs eliminate any of those concerns by absorbing any droplets of moisture and then dissipating naturally as the temperature rises. Also commonly referred to as “Anticon”.

Bays – When designing a steel building, one of the most important structural factors is the number of bays. A bay refers to the space or intervals between two primary frames of the structure. They are important for structural integrity but also important when factoring in where things like doors and windows can go. This is something your steel building supplier will help you with, ensuring that you have the most economical number of bays.

CE Marked BS6399/2 – This is a British Standard that provides guidance and requirements for the design of structural steel buildings, particularly focusing on the loading. Specifically, it deals with wind loads which are a critical factor in the design of any building structure. All Vanguard Steel Buildings adhere to British Standards.

Cladding – When you look at a steel building, what you are looking at is the external cladding. Cladding is the term used to describe the typically corrugated sheet steel that is attached to the steel frame. It comes in different styles, colours and thicknesses.

Cold rolled steelCold rolled steel describes the type of steel used in the building. The “cold rolled” part describes how it’s manufactured. Cold rolling steel is heated, cooled down to room temperature and then rolled again. The result is a stronger product that doesn’t alter in shape and won’t break as easily as hot rolled. The vast majority of our buildings at Vanguard Steel Buildings use cold rolled steel.

Dual-pitched roof – A dual-pitched roof is the most common type, where the highest part of the roof is in the middle and it slopes down towards the sides.

Eaves height – This is the height of your building from the ground level to the point where the wall meets the roof at its lowest edge. Essentially, it’s the height of the steel building’s walls. We measure height in eaves as it determines the height available inside the building.

Flashings – Flashings are used to protect steel buildings from water penetration. They are sheets that are folded to cover the joints such as the roof ridge, the corners and the eaves. Flashings can come in several different colours and can be a great way to customise your building.

Galvanised steel – All steel should be galvanised which is the process of applying a protective zinc coating to prevent rusting from happening. The most common method of doing this is dipping the steel into a hot bath of molten zinc. This is one of the reasons steel buildings are so popular.

Gable – A gable refers to the triangular section of the wall at the end of a ridged (or dual) roof. Often gable will also be used by steel building suppliers to describe the front or back of the building.

Hot rolled steel – Hot rolled steel is heated to around 926 degrees Celsius and then rolled through the mill into the desired shape. The shape of hot-rolled steel can often change as it is cooled. Hot rolled steel is traditionally favoured for larger clear-span buildings, especially in scenarios where the building needs to support heavy equipment like gantry cranes or store bulk materials. Although the majority of our buildings use cold rolled steel, we also use hot-rolled where it would be beneficial.

Insulated cladding – This is the exact same as above, but is a much thicker version of cladding. If you’re looking for a building to be warm in the cold weather and cool in the summer, you will likely want insulated cladding. You get different layers of thickness, based on your warmth requirements.

Mono pitched roof – A mono pitched roof, or sometimes known as a single-pitched roof has one sloping surface unlike two (dual). For example, the left side of the building being higher than the right.

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PA doors – PA stands for Personal Access and is the other type of door used in steel buildings. As the name suggests, these doors are used for personal access to the steel building. You can get a number of options around size and security.

Plastisol coated – Elements such as roller doors can be coated with plastisol which creates a durable, plastic-like coating. This is most commonly used to change the door colour for aesthetic purposes.

Purlins – Purlins are horizontal beams that run along the length of the roof, providing additional support. They are supported by rafters and support the roof deck (base layer of roof) which is laid on top of them.

Rafters – Rafters are the main structural elements that support the roof. They run from the ridge down to the building walls and define the shape and slope of the roof.

Ridge height – The ridge height is the height of the building from the ground level to the highest point of the roof.

Roof lights – When designing a steel building, you’ll have the option of adding roof lights to it. They are translucent panels installed in the roof to allow for natural light to enter. Typically 5-20% of the roof can be used as a roof light.

Roller shutter doors – Roller shutter doors are the main type of door on a steel building. They can be added to your building at any size you like, can come in different colours and you can choose to have them motorised or not.

Single skin – Single skin simply refers to cladding that isn’t insulated. Only one layer of material is used to cover the exterior of the building.

Steel building kits – A steel building kit simply describes the fact that the building is pre-engineered with all the materials and instructions for erection. Like a larger IKEA flat-pack! This term is often used when we’re supplying a building for DIY erection.

Steel frame buildings – “Steel frame” refers to the skeleton frame of a building being made of steel. The frame consists of horizontal and vertical beams to which the walls and ceiling are attached.

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So there we have it, a steel building glossary of terms.

Hopefully, you now have a better understanding of all the technical terms we use in the industry which will ultimately lead to you having a better experience when finding a steel building supplier.

If you come across any other terms that aren’t included in the list above, feel free to contact us and we’ll happily explain the meaning. We’ll also update this blog each time we’re asked.

At Vanguard Steel Buildings, we provide the highest quality buildings at the most competitive prices and it’s our number one priority to make your steel building project an enjoyable one. If you’d like to receive a complimentary quote from our team of expert designers, simply click on “get a free quote” below and we’ll have a professional quote (and drawings) sent to you within 6 working hours.


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