Portable Building Materials

Portable Building Materials


There is some debate among dealers of portable storage buildings over the best material for building one. Materials like plastics are suitable for small sheds for small backyards or patios, but lack the durability to be used for larger products, vinyl siding has it’s uses, and it’s proponents, but has less support than the two major materials, wood, and metal. Of the metal siding products, the most common is galvanized, painted sheet steel. So, the debate is really between those who advocate wood siding, and those who advocate steel siding. I will let you in on a little secret, most manufacturers now build both types.

What we are talking about here is the shell of the structure. Most builders use wooden framing by default. This has it’s advantages. Wood is stronger than steel by weight, and makes an excellent frame for most residential type structures. It’s major enemy is water. When exposed to moisture for long periods of time, wood can become susceptible to rot. Keeping high levels of moisture out is the function of the siding and roofing of the structure. As long as the shell stays intact, the internal framework will be fine.

Steel siding

Steel does not rot, but it can rust, and rust through is the chief worry in steel siding. Most modern steel siding is zincĀ  coated by a process known as galvanizing, and then coated with a high quality paint that resists moisture, flaking, pealing, and powdering very well. In fact, most steel siding in today’s market is guaranteed for 20 years or more not to rust through.

One drawback to steel siding is it’s tendency toward condensation, or sweating on the inside of the building. Good ventilation usually keeps this in check.

Steel siding is virtually maintenance free, requiring little but occasional cleaning to remain in top condition.

Wood siding

Wooden and steel portable buildings

Wood siding of the grade used in today’s portable buildings is also a great material. It is strong, and, (this surprises most people) it is heavier than it’s steel counterparts when used in the thickness required for proper construction. This can be an advantage in windy areas, but only a slight advantage since the contents of almost any building will add the weight to keep it in place.

Wood will not normally sweat in the way that steel is prone to do. This is an advantage, and a disadvantage. The moisture is still present, but is often absorbed into the wood fibers, and prolonged periods of extremely high humidity can allow rot, if not properly ventilated. Obviously, good ventilation is needed in both wooden and steel buildings.

Wood siding does require some maintenance over time. The sealants used will eventually cease doing it’s job, and it will need to be replenished. Special attention should be paid to corners, edges, openings, and other areas where the ends and edges of the wood have the most chance for exposure to the elements. Your builder or dealer will give you more details on how often this should be done.

One of the advantages of wood siding is in the realm of Home Owner associations. Most HOA’s require wooden sided buildings for any portable outdoor structure. This thinking may be outmoded, but it is still a common requirement.

The best material

So, which is the best material for the job? Well, that’s easy, it is the one that best serves your purpose.

If you prefer the look and ambiance of wood, or have a Home Owners association that requires it, go with wood. It may require a little extra maintenance, but that is a small price to pay for getting a building that you and your neighbors can all appreciate.

If you like vivid colors, and don’t want to do any but the most rudimentary maintenance procedures steel may be your best bet.

Either way, pick a building that is well framed, and meets your needs for a utility building, and all should be well.