Why Choose a Pre Engineered Metal Building with Straight Walls?

Why Choose a Pre Engineered Metal Building with Straight Walls?

The curvature of a Quonset has several key drawbacks when compared to a straight-walled pre engineered metal building.

When it comes to choosing walls for a pre engineered steel building, there are usually two options: straight walls and arched. While the obvious difference between the two is visual, there are several structural differences that should also be taken into consideration.

You’ve probably seen buildings with arched walls (also known as Quonset huts). These structures are typically made of corrugated metal, supported by semicircular cross sections. They used to be quite popular because they were:

  • Easy to build
  • Relatively cost-effective
  • Suitable for an array of building types (garages, shops, commercial etc.)

However, advances in design software and manufacturing processes for pre engineered metal buildings have made the two styles comparable in terms of price.


Foundational Requirements

Due to its curved design, the load on a Quonset is directed towards the base of the building. As a result, it requires more concrete foundation as compared to a pre engineered metal building of the same size.

Plus, in order to properly build a Quonset, custom notches need to be made in the foundation to anchor the arched cross sections. This further adds to the building costs.


Usable Space

With pre engineered metal buildings that have straight walls, you can use every inch of floor space. On the other hand, the curvature of the sidewalls on Quonset-style buildings results in a loss of useable space. 

There are various subcategories of Quonsets that have straight (or near-straight) walls, however, they are limited to certain building widths.



Arched buildings are somewhat limited in their functionality. While they suitable for storage buildings and shops, a pre engineered metal building with straight walls can be used for just about any application: 

  • Retail
  • Commercial
  • Warehousing
  • Industrial
  • Agricultural
  • Mini storage
  • Community 

This versatility opens up a range of options when choosing building designs. For a good example of this, check out our post: Why Metal Building Kits Are Ideal for Retail Outlets.


Multiple Stories

With an arched building, you get one level. That’s it. With straight-walled buildings, you can go up to a second or even third level if you choose. Plus, you can incorporate mezzanines and other interior structures to suit your design needs.


Building Access

One of the biggest drawbacks of an arched building design is access and egress. Due to a lack of framework, you’re limited to doors and windows being placed on the ends of the building. With straight walls, you can place man doors, windows and skylights virtually anywhere you see fit.



Again, a lack of framework makes it very difficult (and expensive) to insulate Quonsets efficiently. On the other hand, insulated wall and roof panels are commonly used on pre engineered buildings.

Curved walls also make it difficult to install things like:

  • Drywall
  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • HVAC systems


Do you need a pre engineered metal building that offers strength and versatility? At Metal Structure Concepts, our team of expert designers will help you create a customized structure that suits your specific business needs. Call us to learn more.