Different Types of Steel Structures

There are three different types of steel structures used in building, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. These include Quonset Hut Steel, Steel I-Beam and Hybrid Steel/Wood combination buildings. Understanding the importance of the highlights and downfalls of each structure can save potential builders thousands of dollars as well as unnecessary hassles.

Quonset Hut

Steel structures come in three basic types.

These steel building structures are in the shape of an arch or a "curve" and are defined as self-supporting structures. Assembling a Quonset building is begun by laying each individual piece of the arch onto the ground, bolting them together and then assembling them onto the foundation. Quonset Hut buildings come in two different styles: the older full arch structure and the updated, modified counterpart which is designed to take up less space. Quonset buildings are frequently used for the storage of feed and grain, as well as other smaller structures. These types of buildings are the least expensive to construct and the easiest of the three to build; however, insulating them can be somewhat expensive.


I-Beam structures are the most common types of steel buildings. A steel truss, which consists of two sidewall sections and two roof sections, is what supports the building. Once assembled on the ground, each solid steel beam truss is raised and then bolted into the foundation of concrete. These structures are great for wide, large buildings such as airplane hangars. Although they are common and sturdy structures, they are usually limited to a boxy rectangular or square shape.

Hybrid Steel/Wood

These buildings use a steel truss composed of two sidewall sections and two roof sections. These trusses are placed every 10 to 16 feet apart. Every section is bolted at the peak and at the eve. The trusses are then assembled on the ground and then hoisted onto anchor bolts in the concrete foundation. Although more expensive than the Quonset and I-Beam structures, these buildings are a viable option if interior finishing is desired. Hybrid steel/wood structures are used to build commercial buildings such as churches, schools, and offices.

About the Author

Catherine Fiorentino began work as a professional freelance writer in 2006. Since then she has written for several online content websites, private clients and blogs. Fiorentino has an Associate of Arts in journalism and mass communication from Kent State University.