# Maximizing the Metal: Why all Metal is not Created Equal

This article, by my friend Sharon Thatcher, was originally published in the  September 2016 issue of Rural Builder magazine and appears unedited. I’ve opined upon many of these areas in previous articles, however here Sharon ties it all together:

You may be the best builder on the planet, but if you use inferior products your stellar reputation could only last as long as those products. Because the larger percentage of a post-frame and steel-frame building is metal, doesn’t it behoove you to know a lot about it?

At Steel Dynamics, Don Switzer, sales manager and Dan Knight, marketing manager for construction products, believe so. Their presentation “Not all Metal is Created Equal” was well received back in 2014 at the Frame Building Expo, so Rural Builder recently caught up with them again to offer an overview of the topic.

Steel Dynamics is a major steel coil provider in the construction industry. Like builders, getting the right product to the customer to use for the right purpose is crucial to maintaining its reputation.

So what is it they want all builders to know?

GAUGE IS NOT A GOOD GAUGE OF QUALITY

“At the start of the process is the steel, and it’s making sure that the strength is correct, and making sure that the gauge is correct,” Switzer said.

There are four general grades of steel but in the rural builder industry, most common is Grade 50 used for trim and Grade 80 for building panels.

“All the product from a mill is certified from a strength level,” said Switzer, “meaning that when you order a panel, it has an 80,000 yield strength or it has a 50,000 yield strength. Wherever you order it from, it’s important to ask your steel supplier for a test report.”

In addition to the strength of the materials, the test report will reveal how much coating is on the steel, the gauge and the width.

Gauge is where many problems arise. There is a legitimate decimal range of thickness that panels can be made within a given gauge. A Gauge 29 panel, for instance, might range from .0142 all the way to .020 in thickness, but most people are selling in the .0145 to .0152 range. The lower the gauge, the heavier (stronger) the panel.

“Some [suppliers] are always trying to be on the skinniest side of that gauge so they can still call it 29 gauge,” Switzer said.

There are legitimate uses for both ends of the range, yet builders should not be fooled into thinking that one-gauge-fits-all.

Switzer is a strong believer that builders should stop thinking in terms of gauge and start thinking in terms of actual decimal thickness.

But even then, it’s important to know that the measurement of thickness never includes the paint.

“When you measure thickness or gauge of a panel, you have to take away the paint,” Switzer said. “The paint doesn’t provide any structural value.”

An even better method than measuring thickness, is actual weight since weight leaves little room for exaggeration.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru: Come back Monday when I continue to share Sharon’s article as she talks about the importance of paint.

BUILD magazine

Just announced – Hansen Pole Buildings, LLC has been selected by BUILD magazine in their Engineering Leadership awards.

According to Dominic Lloyd, Feature Executive at BUILD (www.build-review.com/build-rewards/), “Hansen Pole Buildings LLC has stood out from the thousands of potential contenders due to your creative movements, dedicated team and brilliant quality of production and service you have offered to your customers. This shows in your constant progression within this sector allowing growth within your firm and being a one to watch in the near future.”

Build is the only globally focused free-to-subscribe construction magazine. The Build distribution spans a worldwide network of more than 110,000 dedicated and informed industry experts.

Published monthly, Build endeavors to bring you the latest need-to-know content and updates from across the global construction and property industries.

Keeping pace with a vast array of ever-changing sectors thanks to regular contributions from some of the world’s foremost construction, design and real estate experts and firms, Build is home to the very best news, features and comment from the people and institutions in the know.

Taking in everything from the latest products and techniques, to up-to-the-minute design trends and industry molding regulations, Build should be the first port of call for any construction or property professional looking to remain on the cutting edge when it comes to their or related industries.

Compiling the latest trade news with featured case studies on the industry’s leading organizations and professionals, Build magazine is a comprehensive source of industry information. Covering all aspects of buildings, infrastructure and related works, the magazine highlights everything related to corporate social responsibility across a vast number of sectors, including, but not limited to: new-build and construction, property and asset management, design and architecture, project management and procurement, mechanical and electrical, energy, utilities and civil engineering.

Eric Graff and Judy Hansen, the owners of Hansen Pole Buildings, along with myself, Mike the Pole Barn Guru, are humbled and honored for this prestigious award. We thank those at Build magazine for notation of our dedication to providing pole building kits to clients: Your Building. Your Way.