How Long Do Metal Buildings Last?

May 31, 2024

The long-term durability of structural metals ensures metal-framed buildings will last as long as the owner desires. In addition, the metal framing system easily adapts to new loading conditions, vertical expansion, and changes in owner requirements, providing for a new life beyond its original design and further extending its lifespan.

A well-maintained metal structure will maintain its strength and integrity for its lifespan, saving building owners a significant amount of money on repairs due to decay or the impacts of strong winds, fires, or earthquakes. Furthermore, sustainable metal construction will decrease natural resource consumption, construction waste, and greenhouse gas emissions, all vital to preserving our environment.

Metal Building Life Expectancy

When correctly built and maintained, the life expectancy of a metal building can exceed 100 years. Metal buildings last longer than concrete or wood because durable metal better resists common causes of deterioration (mold, termites, moisture) and more effectively stands up to natural disasters than wood and concrete buildings.

Workers carefully examining the metal for corrosion treatment
What Makes Metal Buildings Last?

Durable and dimensionally-stable metal buildings last a long time because they resist corrosion, moisture, and pests. Metal buildings’ comprehensive and tensile strength protects them from seismic forces, severe winds, and heavy snow or rain. Non-combustible metal can withstand fires and limit the spread of flames.

Corrosion-Resistant Metal Buildings

Constructing a corrosive-resistant metal building involves applying a barrier coating (like paint or galvanizing) to stop contact with water and oxygen, both needed to corrode the metal. The 2021 IBC (2203.1) mandates that the design of metal structures include protection against corrosion in cases where corrosion can impair the metal’s strength or serviceability.

Corrosion Problems With Wood And Concrete Construction

Wet wood will corrode the metal nails or screws that fasten it, particularly if the moisture content exceeds 18 percent. The resulting rust will deteriorate the adjacent wood, causing it to lose tensile strength, making the structure less resistant to strong winds and seismic forces.

A leading cause of deterioration in concrete comes from corrosion of the reinforced metal and other embedded metal meant to strengthen the concrete. Of concern, rusting metal expands to a greater volume than metal, creating tensile stresses (expansions) in the concrete and eventual cracking and delamination.

Moisture-Resistant Metal Buildings

Dimensionally-stable metal construction does not expand or contract with moisture content, so it will not warp, crack, split, or creep, remaining sturdy and straight for its lifetime. Moreover, the isotropic nature of metal provides dimensional properties in all directions, giving metal the same strength side to side, up and down, in all loading directions.

Durable, inorganic metal also eliminates or significantly lessens moisture-related issues such as rot and mold that can diminish the integrity of a structure.

Dimensionally Unstable And Mold-Prone Wood

Moisture, as it dries out, can cause wood to shrink, leading to long-term problems with the building envelope, increasing both energy and maintenance costs to repair cracks in framing and finishes, as well as painting, caulking, sealing, and termite protection.

Moisture Problems With Concrete Construction

Structural breaks in a concrete wall (often due to poor workmanship) will compromise the building envelope by allowing moisture to infiltrate the wall system. Water can also intrude through vapor condensation if the structure lacks proper drainage. Of concern, excess moisture in masonry will exert outward pressure, causing the surface to pop out, flake, or peel (spalling). Eventually, spalling can lead to significant sections of the masonry falling off and crumbling, leading to expensive structural damage.

Moisture accumulation in concrete and wood walls can also lead to unhealthy and damaging wall rot.

Pest-Resistant Metal Buildings

Pest-resistant metal buildings avoid the risk of damaging termites, saving on costly repairs and maintenance compared to wood-framed structures. The International Residential Code recognizes cold-formed metal (CFS) as a method for compliance with the termite-resistant construction requirements.

Wood-Damaging Termites

Of concern, every year, wood-eating termites cause more than $5 billion in damage to structures in the U.S., significantly compromising the integrity and lifespan of the buildings. Importantly, protecting a wood-stud building from termites requires regular, costly inspections and maintenance from a qualified professional with specialized equipment.

Superior Comprehensive And Tensile Strength Of Metal Buildings

Metal has exceptional comprehensive and tensile strength and ductility (ability to bend without breaking), along with solid design and engineering, protect the buildings against severe winds and earthquakes, ensuring a long lifespan.

A worker carefully analyzing the metal and its elements for durability

What Makes Metal Strong?

Alloyed metals, like steel, have the combined strength of all the materials used to create them: exceptionally strong iron and carbon, along with manganese, silicon, phosphorus, sulfur, and oxygen. In addition, the smelting process of heating the metal in the bonding process further increases the metal’s strength.

Costly Disaster-Resistant Wood Buildings

Building a wind-resistant wood-frame structure must include a continuous load path from the roof to the ground. It also must resist flying debris during heavy winds. Building disaster-resistant wood structures cost 25–30 percent more than standard wood-frame construction.

Low Tensile Strength Of Concrete

Concrete made from sand, cement, gravel, and water obtains a high compressive strength but lacks the tensile strength (the ability to stretch without breaking) to protect against seismic forces. To increase its tensile strength and ductility, builders must reinforce the concrete with metal rebar.

Fire-Resistant Metal

When attacked by fire, metal buildings help slow the spread of fire, saving lives and allowing more time for emergency vehicles to arrive and begin their jobs. Combustible wood, however, will more quickly spread flames during a fire, putting the occupants and building at greater risk of injury than a more fire-resistant metal building.

Construction workers doing building maintenance job

Metal Building Maintenance Tips:8 Tips for Maintaining a Metal Building

Regular maintenance and inspection of a metal building are essential for minimizing repair costs, ensuring excellent performance, and extending the structure’s lifespan. However, maintenance needs can differ greatly based on the building design and the metal’s exposure to outdoor elements.

Trim Trees and Hedges Around a Metal Building

Landscaping that touches a metal building can obstruct airflow and prevent water from evaporating away from the building, leading to damaging and unhealthy mold. Additionally, hedges around a metal structure can put pressure on the building’s side, stressing the foundation and the position of the walls. Hedges closer than a foot from a metal building will exert pressure on the building’s side, stressing the foundation and the positioning of the walls.

Check the Building Site, Including the Roof

The long-term integrity of your metal building depends on removing all objects touching its exterior, including tools, roof panels, and metal shavings. These objects add unnecessary weight to the building and conceal its surface, allowing moisture accumulation, which can lead to rust.

Check for Holes in the Walls That Expose Insulation

Holes in the walls allow harmful pests and outside air to infiltrate metal buildings. Unwanted air contains moisture that can accumulate in the insulation, leading to structurally damaging mold and rust, possibly requiring complete replacement of the wall.

Regular Washing Will Extend a Metal Building’s Lifespan

Grime and dirt can tarnish the surface of a metal building, potentially leading to mold and rust. To maintain the building’s integrity, regularly inspect it for discolorations, residue, or mud, and routinely wash the entire metal building, inside and out, twice a year.

Inspect Doors, Windows, and Garage Doors

Check the seals around the doors, windows, and garage doors for leaks and signs of mold, sealing and repairing if needed, and cleaning away the mold. Additionally, inspect the garage door’s cables, rollers, auto-reverse safety, tracks, and overall cleanliness, as a malfunction of any of these components can put a metal building at risk of exposure to water.

Paint Over Scratches and Minor Abrasions

Leaving metal substrate exposed to air makes it susceptible to moisture, which leads to rust and mold. Routinely inspect a metal building for scratches and apply primers and paint (with the appropriate environmental exposure threshold) to the areas.

Check and Clean Gutters and Drains

Water will overflow if the gutters and drains become clogged with dirt, sticks, and other debris, leading to mold and rust. It is important to routinely check the gutters and drains of a metal commercial building at least two times a year.

Quickly Remove Snow from the Roof

Snow exerts tremendous stress on a metal building, causing it to buckle, particularly if the snow on the roof exceeds the building’s maximum allowable amount. Removing snow from the roof can be dangerous and is best done by a professional.

Why Prestige Steel Structures For Metal Buildings, Carports, and Metal Garages

When investing in a new metal building, like carports and garages, it’s important to work with someone you can trust. At Prestige Metal Structures, our mission is to provide our customers with the best buying experience by collaborating with top manufacturers in the U.S., offering exceptional customer service, and truly focusing on what our customers need and want from their metal building.h2-


Maintaining a metal building is crucial to ensuring its longevity, structural integrity, and performance. By following the maintenance tips outlined in this article, building owners can prevent costly repairs and extend the lifespan of their metal structures. Regularly trimming surrounding vegetation, inspecting and cleaning the building site, checking for holes in the walls, washing the building, inspecting doors and windows, painting over scratches, cleaning gutters, and removing snow from the roof are all essential practices.

These proactive measures protect the building from rust, mold, and other forms of damage and help preserve the environment by reducing the need for extensive repairs and replacements. A well-maintained metal building can last over a century, offering superior resistance to natural disasters, pests, and moisture compared to wood and concrete structures.

Investing in metal buildings from reputable providers like Prestige Metal Structures ensures you receive a durable, sustainable, and cost-effective solution for your construction needs. Their commitment to quality and customer satisfaction guarantees that you will have a building that meets your specific requirements and stands the test of time.

proper maintenance is key to maximizing the benefits of metal buildings. By adhering to the recommended practices and working with trusted suppliers, you can enjoy metal structures’ durability, strength, and longevity, making them a wise and environmentally friendly choice for a wide range of applications.

FAQs : Metal Building Life Expectancy

How long do metal buildings typically last?

Metal buildings can last over 100 years when properly built and maintained, thanks to their resistance to common causes of deterioration like mold, termites, and moisture.

What maintenance tasks are essential for metal buildings?

Essential maintenance tasks include trimming surrounding vegetation, inspecting and cleaning the building site, checking for holes in the walls, regular washing, inspecting doors and windows, painting over scratches, cleaning gutters, and promptly removing snow from the roof.

Why are metal buildings more durable than wood or concrete structures?

Metal buildings are more durable because they resist corrosion, moisture, and pests. They also have superior tensile and compressive strength, making them more resistant to natural disasters like earthquakes and strong winds.

How often should I wash my metal building?

It is recommended to wash your metal building at least twice a year to remove grime, dirt, and other residues that can tarnish the surface and lead to mold and rust.

What should I do if I notice rust or mold on my metal building?

If you notice rust or mold, it’s crucial to address it immediately. Clean the affected area, apply a primer, and repaint with appropriate coatings to prevent further damage. Regular inspections can help catch these issues early.