Depending on what part of the US you live in, hurricane protection may be a top concern for your home or business. We’ve all seen headlines of hurricanes that have ravaged coastal towns and destroyed valuable belongings. Hurricane Irene of 2011 was estimated to have caused $15.8 billion in damages, affecting states like New Jersey, New York, Connecticut, Vermont, Maryland, Virginia, and North Carolina.
Are steel buildings hurricane resistant?
Steel buildings are rising in popularity thanks to their low cost, quick construction time, and energy efficiency. But what about all-weather resistance?
Two factors will determine whether or not a metal structure can make it through hurricane season:
- Material durability
- Rust resistance
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When it comes to material durability, economical, eco-friendly steel buildings are being constructed to meet strict hurricane building code requirements in hurricane-prone states like Florida. These hurricane proof buildings are advertised to protect valuable investments in residential and commercial property alike. Average “hurricane proof” steel buildings can withstand high winds up to 150 mph.
Building materials like Galvalume coated steel, made in the United States, are designed to withstand high force winds in inclement weather conditions. Just as importantly, Galvalume coated steel has been proven to be seven times more rust resistant than standard galvanized steel. Many manufacturers offer added protection in a 30 year rust-through warranty, essential for buildings in hurricane zones that may be exposed to continuous, heavy rain.
Hurricane proof building design and construction
Metal building engineers have learned the hard way how major hurricanes can devastate a steel structure. Not only does material choice matter when hurricane proofing a building, but design plays a critical role in braving the elements. Steel structures specially designed with internal reinforcements at wall junctures and roof edges can improve wind resistance by up to 170 mph.
Most metal building manufacturers maintain that the Quonset hut design is one of the most durable metal frames on the market. A Quonset hut is built with an arched roof to withstand most storms. In colder climates, a Quonset hut provides a multipurpose benefit by allowing snow and ice to slide off the roof structure. This dome roof design will prevent roof damage or collapse caused by a heavy snow load in cold weather.
The Quonset design has been proven to offer the best high-speed wind resistance of any steel structure due to its curved shape. Metal building manufacturers in hurricane zones often recommend Quonset huts above all other frame types because of their resilience.
For a straight wall structure to stand a chance in a hurricane, roof pitch matters. A building may collapse in a hurricane because of high wind pressure, up to 65 pounds per square foot or the equivalent of 6 bags of cement per square meter. This force can demolish a poorly designed building in seconds. Internal structural supports and a roof pitch of 12°-14° are recommended; a roof pitch at 10° may actually increase wind loads to make a structure more vulnerable.
In a high-risk hurricane zone, design and material choice are key. Strategic design coupled with weather-resistant materials can give a building the support it needs to stand strong in the eye of the storm.