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Metal Buildings 101

Metal Building Types

Gable-Roof Symmetrical Pre Engineered Metal Building

Perhaps the most common type of metal building. Identified by the center ridge.

Gable-Roof Asymmetrical Pre Engineered Metal Building

Due to usage needs of the metal building, slopes can vary on either side of the ridge giving the building owner much needed flexibility.

Single Slope Pre Engineered Metal Building

Another popular type of metal building. They are identified by a high eave and low eave. Gutters and downspouts are only required on one side.

Lean-To Pre Engineered Metal Building

Adding on to an existing metal building? A lean-to allow you to extend your building in an efficient and cost-effective way!

Environmental Factors

Hurricane Hardiness Metal Building


The Caribbean is arguably the most hurricane-prone region in the world. A metal building in this region is subjected to some of the strictest wind codes on the planet, sometimes exceeding 180 mph. Caribbean Structural Systems is proud of how our buildings have fared in several severe hurricanes.

Metal Building Near Ocean


  A metal building is a large investment. Maximizing usage time should be a major goal of any end user. The beautiful oceans of the Caribbean also present a challenge that must be mitigated in the form of corrosion and rust. Caribbean Structural Systems recommends galvanizing exposed elements of steel to defend against rust; in some extreme environments it is non-negotiable. Luckily, this application is widely used and can be applied cost-effectively.

Seismic Hardiness Metal Building


If hurricanes weren't enough, several Caribbean Islands must confront earthquake dangers as well.  The International Building Code prescribes strict procedures that a metal building must adhere to in a seismically active area. Caribbean Structural Systems is well-versed in these seismic provisions and designs all structures to meet or exceed all hurricane and seismic lateral loads. 


metal building bay spacing


Computer-aided design programs have allowed metal building engineers to pinpoint the optimal bay spacing for functionality and cost. Our smoothest projects are "Design-Builds" where we can work with the architect to maximize building efficiency without sacrificing architectural requirements.

Metal Building Paint Options


A metal building owner has a good amount of flexibility when determine how the finished product will look. Individual metal building suppliers provide several color options for roof and wall panels including KYNAR options that will withstand the elements better. The actual structure typically comes in gray or red.

Metal Building Wall Panels


 Wall cladding is no longer limited to traditional R-panel (corrugated metal found at most warehouses). Improvements in precast architectural wall panels have lead to an explosion of innovative and aesthetically attractive metal building finishes.

Metal Building Insulation


There is a sweet spot between function and cost when it comes to insulation. Based off the intended use of the metal building, whether it will be air conditioned, and the local energy codes, Caribbean Structural Systems can provide our professional opinion on the best course of action. 

roof (1)


Several factors pertaining to the metal building's roof will affect price and functionality. Caribbean Structural Systems can help building owners weight the pros and cons of roof types, roof materials, pitch of the roof, and roofing insulation options 


Solar arrays on metal building


The abundance of sun makes solar panels a popular option in the Caribbean. If you wish to add them to your metal building, be mindful of the kind of roof you are selecting. Placing solar panels on a screw-down roof will cause more roof penetrations which may lead to future leaks. We recommend a standing seam roof because several solar arrays have clip systems that allow easy mounting installation with no penetrations.

metal building cranes


If an overhead crane will be a part of your metal building, the building can be pre-engineered with those loads incorporated. By including these loads from the beginning, the building's frame can be used as support thereby optimizing the design. Caribbean Structural Systems can also provide the crane if requested!

Metal Building roll up door


The wind rating of an overhead door is of vital importance. Caribbean Structural Systems works with a series of fabricators to ensure that all roll-up & personnel doors supplied to the Caribbean have a MIAMI-DADE COUNTY NOTICE OF ACCEPTANCE (NOA). Miami-Dade County is amongst the strictest product approvers in the world.  

Metal building mezzanine


Adding a mezzanine to your metal building? With a PE on staff, Caribbean Structural Systems can design and supply the optimal mezzanine - taking into account code provisions and cost-efficiency.

What we recommend for a building and how we design it depends upon what the building will be used for.  An un-air-conditioned warehouse building can be a bare bones type of structure.  An air-conditioned retail building, office or manufacturing facility will require different considerations.  Some things that may affect our design approach are:

Will the building be air-conditioned?  This is important for a couple of reasons:

  • Corrosion protection.  We highly recommend the use of G-90 galvanized secondary framing for most buildings in South Florida or the Caribbean.  But if the building will be air-conditioned it may not be necessary.
  • Insulation – What will the usage be?  How much will electricity cost to air-condition the building?  What U factor or R factor is required?  Will the building be a LEED certified building?
  • We can provide from R10 on up to R40 insulation in roof and wall systems.
  • We have a lot of experience for cold storage warehouses.  It is a niche market that we know well.

Where is the building located?

  • Close to the ocean or in a corrosive environment, we recommend G-90 galvanized purlins and girts.  Sometimes, we will recommend hot dip galvanized structural steel.
  • Within 1,000 feet of the beach, over uninterrupted terrain requires different design criteria (exposure) for hurricane zones.
  • Is seismic design a consideration? We can help with the correct building code.

Standing Seam or screw down roof?

  • Screw down roof systems are less expensive but more prone to leaks as the building ages.
  • Standing seam roof systems are superior for high performance buildings (offices, retail, air-conditioned buildings).


  • We can provide a variety of beautiful exterior facades that are cost efficient.   Think the look of pre-engineered metal buildings is too industrial?  We can provide the cost benefits of pre-engineered construction with the architectural sizzle of a conventionally built building.  Let us help you build a beautiful office or retail building.


  • We like to provide KYNAR paint on roof and wall panels, especially for buildings with ultimate destination in South Florida or into the Caribbean.
  • We can provide the standard polyester paint finish and are comfortable doing this.
  • Roof systems can be supplied as bare galvalume.  Galvalume will typically last 20 years before any type of corrosion is evident.

Bay Spacing

  • It is possible to space columns and frames up to 60’-0” apart, however, the sweet spot for economic reasons is somewhere between 25’-0” and 29’-0”.
  • Bay spacing typically depends upon the interior layout of the building.  We try to bury frames and columns inside interior partition walls, or at minimum place them so they do not interfere with window and door openings or equipment placement.
  • Expanding bay spacing can eliminate frames and may save money.

Clear span or interior columns?

  • An important advantage of rigid frame and pre-engineered metal buildings is the large clear spans possible.
  • The point at which the use of interior columns will save money over a clear span building is generally for a building that is 80’-0” in width.  Below that width there is typically not any appreciable savings.  But even above 80’-0” in width, the cost savings may be minimal because you have to excavate and pour additional foundations for the interior columns.
  • Unless the building is 120’-0” in width, we do not recommend changing the usage of your building in order to save money by putting in interior columns.  The value of a clear span building will typically be more than what you can save by using interior columns.


  • Will there be any roof mounted equipment?  We can design the building to meet any requirement, and can design stands and platforms for the equipment too.
  • Suspended equipment inside the building?  Tell us so we can design the roof to carry any collateral loads imposed by electrical, mechanical or refrigeration equipment.

Lateral bracing.  All buildings require lateral bracing perpendicular to the direction the frames run.

  • X-Rod bracing is less expensive but you may not be able to put all of the door and window openings that you require.
  • Portal frame bracing is more expensive but it leaves the building side walls open for windows, doors and accessories.
  • End wall bracing is required if the end walls are framed in typical post and beam type construction.  We can get around this by providing a half load frame at slightly more cost.  If you require a lot of door or window openings in the end walls we can provide a half load frame that will not require bracing.

Will the building be expandable in the future?

  • If so, we need to know this so we can provide an expandable end wall frame.
  • This could add a couple of thousand dollars to the building cost but save a lot more than that when the building is expanded in the future.

Long life fastener / stainless steel cap screws. 

  • Important in the corrosive environments of South Florida and the Caribbean.

Will the building have a mezzanine?

  • CSS / APTEC have a huge advantage in that we typically design our own mezzanines independent of the pre-engineered metal building manufacturers.  We can almost always save money by doing this.
  • We provide the stairs as part of our mezzanine design.
  • Will there be any masonry walls?  If so, designing the walls to carry the mezzanine will save money.

Will the building have an overhead crane?

  • You tell us what you require, we can design the building to carry a crane and provide the crane too.