How Metal Buildings Withstand Weather Changes

How Metal Buildings Withstand Weather Changes

Metal buildings are designed to withstand whatever weather comes their way.

We all know that metal buildings are meant to last. All you have to do is look at existing structures to see that many have been around for decades and still going strong. One of the reasons they’re able to stand the test of time lies in their ability to withstand changing weather.

In northern Alberta, we can experience a range of extreme weather patterns and temperature fluctuations, including: 

  • Scorching sun
  • Bitter cold
  • Monsoon-like downpours
  • Strong winds
  • Heavy snow loads
  • Constant freeze-thaw cycles

Pre-fabricated buildings are designed to handle it all, and here’s how they do it.


Thermal Movement

As metal heats up and cools down, it expands and contracts, respectively. It is unperceivable to the naked eye, but this phenomenon, known as thermal movement, can place a lot of stress on metal buildings. If this isn’t accounted for in the planning process, your fasteners could fail, which could lead to subsequent leaks.

Temperature fluctuations happen all day, every day in nature. Roofing systems take the brunt of this, which is why we recommend standing-seam roofs for most applications. They are designed specifically to accommodate thermal movement, as they are attached with special clips that allow for the continual expansion and contraction of metal.



Heavy rain and thunderstorms can happen unexpectedly. Just look at the severe storms that rolled through a number of communities in northern Alberta in mid-July. 

Whether you’re dealing with residential homes or metal garage buildings, the best way to keep rainwater from infiltrating your structure is to channel it away with a gutter system. This will prevent standing water from accumulating around your building footprint and reduce the risk of flooding.


Wind and Snow

Whether you’re planning a pre-fabricated building for hay storage, livestock or a commercial application, it needs to meet the wind and snow ratings established by the Alberta Building Code. These guidelines are based on historical climatic data for the area in which you intend to place the building.

In addition to having an excellent strength-to-weight ratio, prefab structures utilize a number of components and design principles that enable them to withstand gale-force winds, including: 

  • High-grade fastener materials
  • Support columns securely anchored to the foundation
  • Bracing for added support and rigidity



Everyone knows that metal is an excellent conductor. So, in a lightning storm, wouldn’t it stand to reason that a metal structure would be the last place you’d want to be?

The short answer is: no.

This might sound counter-intuitive, but in the event of a direct lightning strike, having a metal roof and frame would allow the electrical charge to flow freely (i.e. without resistance), effectively dispersing the energy into the ground.


To learn about using prefab buildings for agriculture, read: 7 Benefits of Steel Barns for Agriculture.


For metal buildings that can withstand harsh weather in northern Alberta, call Metal Structure Concepts. We back our buildings with an industry-leading warranty.