How Can You Prepare Your Steel Building to Handle High Wind Speeds?

Worried about high wind speeds and your steel building?

In every part of the country, high winds can be an issue. If your building might be in the path of hurricanes, stability during high winds might be one of your biggest concerns.

Today’s researchers and architects are working to find out how much wind a building can survive with the right techniques. In fact, they’ve designed buildings that can withstand winds up to 250 mph. However, this can get expensive.

In most areas, buildings don’t need to withstand wind speeds quite so high. However, you can still reinforce your steel building with a design that will keep it safe in high winds. Wondering how? In this guide, we have your answers – keep reading for more.

Wind Resistance Ratings

Exposure ratings refer to the wind’s threat level in your area, factoring in the effects of urbanization. An Exposure B rating means a low wind threat, usually found in wooded areas with windbreaks, as well as many urban and suburban locations. When buildings are closer together, the wind poses less of a threat.

If there are no factors to give a place a different rating, it will get rated Exposure B. However, a rural, open area without many buildings or large hills will be rated Exposure C instead. The fewer windbreaks there are, the more wind resistance needs to be built into a building.

Finally, there’s Exposure D. This rating only applies to completely flat land without any obstructions.

How Wind Forces Work

Wind forces can be broken down into three types: sheer load, lateral load, and uplift load.

Sheer load is caused by wind pressure in a horizontal direction. This makes structures tilt or lift away. Lateral load also involves horizontal wind forces, which can pull or push a building, moving it off the foundation. Uplift load happens when the wind lifts surfaces off a building, such as the roof. It can also damage the walls.

These wind forces will have different impacts depending on how the building is oriented, how it’s built, and how strong the wind is. You can’t control how strong the wind is, but you can change the other two factors to help your building stand up to high winds.

As you design your building, you’ll also want to consider your region’s prevailing wind direction. Although wind can blow from anywhere, most areas have prevailing winds in certain directions. Your building design should account for this to make sure the structure will be stable for years to come.

Frames for High Wind Speeds

First, you’ll need to decide on the best frame for the local winds. Steel frames are the best for standing up against high wind speeds. That’s because it has a higher strength-to-weight ratio than any other material used in construction. It’s light, but it’s strong.

For industrial and commercial buildings, rigid frames with I-beams are typically the best choice. If they have shallow roofs, these buildings can stand up to incredibly powerful wind events.

In residential areas, open truss is more likely to be the frame of choice. This keeps the building durable and heavy, and strong enough to stand up to high wind speeds.

Modern construction methods are better than ever before, thanks to years of innovation, experience, and analysis. Today’s building creators know that the roof edges and wall junctures are the weakest areas of any building. Buildings should be reinforced in those areas for added stability.

High Wind Anchors

High winds require powerful anchors. The staples and nails often used in wood-frame buildings can’t stand up to powerful winds. Instead, they’ll get pulled out by the wind load, letting the roof come off the building.

Anchors, strong bolts, and screws can all help a building stay together even in a hurricane. Not only are they stronger, but they’ll spread the uplift forces more evenly across the building, so they can do less damage.

The best anchors for the building depend on the building’s location and style.

Roof Pitch and Height

The taller a steel building is, the more vulnerable it is to wind forces. A low, wide building will always be more stable than a tall, narrow one. And if a tall building stands all by itself, it will take on more wind force than if it was surrounded by buildings of the same height.

Flat roofs also take on more uplift forces than pitched roofs do. It’s the same principle that helps keep planes in the air. Wind passing over a flat surface, like the wing of a plane, makes an uplifting force. But you don’t want your building’s roof to act like a plane and become airborne.

Build a pitched roof instead – it’s less likely to come off during high wind events and expose the inside to more damage.

Roofs made of steel are ideal for wind compared to roofs of other materials. A steel roof has panels installed as a single piece across the roof. This means there are fewer places for the wind to get inside and tear parts of the roof away.

Doors and Exterior

The doors and skin of the building also need to be designed to resist wind. Thicker steel stands up best to high wind pressures. And the more the panels overlap, the more wind resistance they will have.

Is Your Building Ready For High Wind Speeds?

High wind speeds are a common occurrence in the Florida and South Georgia areas. A well-crafted steel building is the best way to make sure your building will still be intact after a hurricane blows through.

Steel is sustainable, easy to disassemble and move if needed, and easy to insulate. The material has a lot of benefits, and wind resistance is one of the most important ones. Ready to learn more about our commercial steel buildings? Find out more here.


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