Pre-engineered Metal Buildings Vs Concrete Buildings. Which One is Better?

Posted by CDMG Team on Jan 29, 2021 8:54:01 AM

Which is better, pre-engineered metal buildings or concrete buildings?

Concrete tilt-up construction and the poured in place or cast in place method pours concrete into wall and column forms.

The concrete then sets, drying in the forms. After that, the forms are removed, and the concrete is finished.

Pre-engineered metal buildings utilize commercial-grade steel columns and rafters to create easily assembled frames.

The frame form the skeleton of the building. Thanks to the strength to weight ratio of steel this allows for open floor plans.  This is one of the reasons that pre-engineered metal buildings are ideal for sports and recreational facilities

In the article below, we will discuss which method is better for your building.

Table of Contents


Your design possibilities with steel are limited inly by your imagination

What Are The Design Possibilities With A Steel Building?

With concrete, pretty much any shape is available because it molds to the form made for it.

But the weight of concrete limits its ability to cover a lot of ground without extra support columns.

Those bulky columns will limit maneuverability and usable floor space within your building.

Overhangs and balconies are also expensive and problematic with concrete.

Concrete also doesn't easily accommodate large expanses of glass.

With steel, the most economical shape for your building will be a rectangle. But it can be used to create more intricate designs.

The best design asset of a prefabricated metal building is its ability to span long distances without extra columns.

That's why steel is a popular choice for warehouses and aircraft hangars.

Clearspan interior spaces provide greater floor plan flexibility and allow for greater freedom to make changes later on.

The wide spaces between exterior steel columns allow for large expanses of glass.

So if your business requires showroom windows, steel framing would be the better building method for you.

Are Prefabricated Metal Buildings Safer?

Steel is safer than concrete during the construction phase and operations.

Concrete is mixed on-site, which increases the amount of activity on the job site, increasing the risk of accidents.

On the other hand, pre-engineered steel buildings arrive on the job site ready to assemble, requiring less movement of materials and a safer work area.

Concrete also takes time to cure once it has been poured, creating a safety hazard until it is completely set.

But as soon as a metal building frame is erected, it's ready to go.

The flexibility of steel mitigates the threat of collapse and failure, and steel survives better in high winds.

Concrete is likely to crumble.

See Why CDMG is the Premier Choice For Metal Buildings

Wind Resistance

Steel buildings are capable of withstanding winds of up to 200 mph, which makes them more likely to survive in areas prone to tornados and hurricanes.

The brittleness of concrete makes it prone to shattering instead of bending.

Steel buildings bend with the wind and deflect lateral forces to the walls and down to the ground.

It's much harder to construct a cost-effective building of concrete that can withstand the same forces.

It's not very practical or cost-efficient to construct a concrete building of more than a few stories.

But the ductility of steel allows tall buildings to sway slightly without losing cohesion or failing.

Fire is no match for a steel building

Are Prefabricated Steel Buildings Fire Resistant?

Concrete and steel are both resistant to fire. Both are very unlikely to burn or spread flames.

If you use innovative fire-retardant coatings and insulation, you will increase its fire resistance t even hotter temperatures.

Fire resistance is important because it will give the occupants enough time to exit your structure, and there's less of a chance your building will collapse.

What Are The Size Limitations?

The size you need your building to be maybe the deciding factor on whether you go with steel or concrete.

Concrete is overwhelmingly used for large-scale construction projects like dams and tunnels, but that doesn't mean it's ideal for every project.

The concrete's weight limits the height of the structure, and concrete builders find extremely wide spans difficult, if not outright impossible.

Pre-engineered metal buildings can span 300 ft without needing a single interior load-bearing column.

With just a little support, you can make spans as much as 480 feet.

There aren't any limitations on the length of a pre-engineered steel building. 

If necessary, you can add more frames and bays to meet the needs of your design. 

Warehouses, aircraft hangars, and manufacturing plants often demand soaring ceilings, and a pre-engineered metal building can reach those heights or more.


No matter what material you choose, it's worthless to you if you can't get it.

Concrete and all of its ingredients, including cement, sand, gravel, and water, are normally readily available and inexpensive. 

The steel rebar for reinforced concrete is also easy to get ahold of.

The only drawback with concrete is when greater construction demand exceeds supply capabilities for cement.

Steel companies in the United States produced 7.2 million tons of structural steel annually. 

Steel is also the most recycled building material in use, and it can be recycled without a loss of quality.

Over 2,300 fabrication shops are operating across the country, with a maximum capacity of 9 million tons per year. 

American steel manufacturers can easily meet all building demands.

Your metal building will need virtually zero maintenance

How Much Maintenance Does A Pre-engineered Steel Building Need?

Steel requires next to no maintenance and can be quickly and easily repaired.

Maintenance requirements and costs will remain low throughout the lifetime of the prefabricated steel building.

Steel is also weather and sun-resistant and carries longer warranties than concrete due to its durability. If the steel is damaged, you only need to replace the damaged portion and not the entire steel structure.

A metal roof with a protective finish may be warrantied for 40 years or more.

Repairing concrete structures takes more time and skill.

The repaired area will not match the surrounding material's appearance and will likely cost more than a similar repair to a metal building.

Learn More With CDMG

With the number of ways that pre-engineered buildings provide advantages over concrete and other construction methods, it's easy to see why they remain a popular choice for many construction projects.

By now, most people have caught on to the fact that steel is the best building material.

If you're ready to build with steel, you can put your trust in CDMG for your next building project. 

From design to construction, CDMG will manage the entire process. 

Using just one metal building company to manage your entire project will shorten your construction schedule and help you stay on budget. 

To see how CDMG Metal Buildings can help with your pre-engineered metal building project, click the button below.



Check out our other pre-engineered metal building articles:

Why Pre-Engineered Metal Buildings Are Better

Do You Need An Architect For Your Steel Building?

Topics: Prefabricated Metal Building