Are Metal Buildings Safe to Live In? 

Posted on October 6, 2022
Steel home in winter, at the end of a long snow-covered driveway

Despite the fact that steel is the material of choice for skyscrapers, storm shelters and storage for private airplanes, there’s a pervasive idea that a steel house isn’t a safe choice for a family home. That somehow, steel not only won’t keep you safe from inclement weather, natural disasters and fire damage, but in some cases can actively put you at risk. 

Nothing could be further from the truth. 

If you’re considering a steel home for yourself or your family, rest assured: you’re on the right path. Living in a steel home is incredibly safe. Steel offers far more natural strength, inherent durability and fire resistance than traditional wood buildings. 

Looking for specifics? You got ‘em: 

Are metal buildings safe from lightning?

Yes. First, a metal building is not inherently more likely to be struck by lightning than a wood building. It may seem that way, however, because lighting is more likely to strike tall buildings, like skyscrapers. It’s their height that’s a beacon for the lightning, not their framing material. And what material is used to frame most skyscrapers? That’s right, steel. Steel is chosen, in part, because it actually performs better than wood in a lightning strike. Here’s why: 

A properly grounded steel building is a fantastic electrical current conductor, which makes it a safer place to be during a lightning storm. Because the lightning current can pass smoothly through steel framing and into the ground, it is less likely to send currents elsewhere. And because steel buildings are fire resistant, they can survive a lightning strike without much damage to the structure.

Wood, however, does not conduct electricity efficiently at all. So when a traditional wood-framed home (or a tree, which is more common) is hit by lightning, it’s more likely to catch fire and more likely to send shockwaves of that current outward, potentially striking anyone who happens to be nearby.

Are metal buildings safe in a tornado?

Yes. Tornadoes really like the United States — and they like certain midwestern states, known collectively as Tornado Alley, more than anything. 

Know what’s right in the path of Tornado Alley? The Worldwide Steel Buildings manufacturing facility. So you could say we know a thing or two about these destructive forces of nature. 

So do many of our midwestern customers, who all chose to purchase a steel building kit despite the risk of tornadoes, and felt confident doing so, given metal buildings’ high wind rating (the amount of pressure the building is designed to withstand). 

No building can avoid the path of a tornado entirely, but when steel buildings do get caught up in a cyclone, they’re less likely to suffer structural damage. That’s because instead of breaking in strong winds, steel can bend. So you’d still have some repair work to do once the storm passed, but the interior of your metal home will have had superior protection against high wind speeds as well as debris thrown around by the storm and fires originating from wood frame buildings. 

Are metal buildings safe in a snowstorm?

Yes. There’s nothing better than watching a snowstorm from safely inside your home … until you realize the damage heavy snow and ice can do to your roof and your windows. 

However, much of the snow damage inflicted on traditional wood homes comes from the weight of compacted snow and the moisture seeping into susceptible materials. 

Because metal homes won’t rot, mold, mildew or expand and contract due to temperature, the moisture isn’t a concern. And when your metal building is designed to withstand the snow load in your area (which it will be – our team makes sure of it), the weight on your roof isn’t an issue either. 

Worldwide Steel buildings are designed to withstand even the heaviest snowfall, and can perform even better depending on the roof you choose. In snowy climates, the steeper the better. An acute angle makes it much easier for snow to slide off the roof and melt into the ground. 

With a steep roof pitch, eave extensions and the strength of a metal roof, you can design a building that protects you from any snowstorm.

Is a metal building safe from natural disasters?

When it comes down to it, no man-made structure is completely invincible when it’s faced with the forces of Mother Nature. But just like in the other examples, a steel building will perform as well as or better than any other type of traditional construction. 

An earthquake that would cause a wood-framed home to splinter and break should only cause a steel-framed home to warp. 

A hurricane that would destroy a wood-framed home should only dent the siding of a metal home. 

A wildfire that would incinerate a wood-framed home wouldn’t even touch the framing of a metal home.

Feeling at home in a metal building

Perhaps the skepticism surrounding steel homes stems from peoples’ perception of them rather than the reality. If the only steel buildings you’ve been in have been barns, shelters and airplane hangars, then of course you won’t think they’re a place to make yourself at home. 

But once you add in proper insulation, the interior walls of your choice, and fill the house with your friends and family, a steel frame home offers safety, security and a place to feel at home just like any other home. 

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