Red Iron Buildings

red iron buildings

Red iron buildings are very common in larger-scale construction. These buildings are made from steel I-beams that are coated in red iron oxide to protect them. Here are some more facts and details about this construction method to help you decide if it’s right for your project’s needs.


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What are Red Iron Buildings?

These buildings are a type of steel building that use steel beams with a red iron oxide coating to protect them from rust and corrosion. Not all of these buildings will have red beams given that you can paint overtop of the protective coating to make them any color you’d like. Because of that, red iron is often used to describe all types of buildings made with I-beams.

They’re typically built on a concrete foundation and feature an internal structure made of rigid steel that is typically clad in steel sheeting.

Red Iron Building Pictures

Below are some examples of other buildings to give you an idea of the possibilities.

What are the Most Common Uses?

  • Warehouses
  • Factories
  • Riding Arenas
  • Sports Facilities
  • Large Garages
  • Aircraft Hangars

What dimensions do Red Iron Buildings come in?

While smaller sized buildings can be made of red iron, they’re generally better suited for either light steel frame buildings or quonset hut buildings. Those buildings provide more cost-effective solutions at smaller sizes.

This type of construction requires heavy equipment but allows for larger clear-spans so they’re better suited for larger projects. As such, this type of building is generally suited for structures which are greater than 40 feet wide.

Their widths and lengths can be increased to virtually any size by including additional support columns.

What is Red Iron Oxide?

Iron oxide is a coating paint that’s used on the steel I-Beams to protect the beams from rust and corrosion. It’s typically applied in two coats. There’s often a thin layer of zinc or aluminum between coats for added protection against the elements. The paint contains pulverized bits of iron oxide (rust), which helps the paint adhere to the steel beams. It may seem counter-intuitive to put rust on a steel beam to protect it, but this method has proven itself effective for over a century.

The History

This construction method has been around since at least 1908 when it was used in a steel mill. Since then, it’s become more popular recently thanks to the need for stronger and more durable buildings. Although they have been around for about 100 years, red iron oxide has only been the industry standard since around 1990. At that point, it became required by many building codes.

Where can I find Red Iron Buildings?

You’ll find this type of building almost anywhere larger steel beams are needed. Bigger cities will have a higher number of these types of construction in the industrial districts.

Red Iron Building vs Wood Construction

These metal buildings may seem like an expensive investment, but in the long run they’re often more affordable. This is because their lifespan is significantly longer than that of wood structures. You also don’t have to worry about having to repair it as it’s almost maintenance free.

This steel construction method is more resilient to common issues that your building may face such as flooding, pests, or termites. Any one of these issues could make your wood structure completely unusable. A red iron building will weather those issues without any major damage.

What Maintenance is Required?

Metal buildings don’t require much maintenance after they’re built because the paint is usually very thick on them. Surface rust can appear under certain conditions if it’s exposed to salt or chemicals. A bit of rust is no issue however and can easily be remedied by spraying the steel beams with a garden hose.

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