Steel frame

April 2, 2024

Construction Knowledge

What is post-frame construction?

Post-frame construction is a building technique that involves creating structural frames using large, widely spaced wooden posts or columns as the primary vertical supports. This method is commonly used for constructing agricultural buildings, such as barns, as well as commercial and residential structures like warehouses, retail stores, and even homes.

The basic process involves setting sturdy wooden posts or columns into the ground, typically anchored in concrete footings. These posts are spaced relatively far apart compared to traditional stud framing methods, often ranging from 8 to 12 feet apart, depending on the design and intended use of the building. Horizontal framing members, called girts and purlins, are then attached to the posts to provide additional support and create the framework for the walls and roof.

Here is an example of a steel building we did for a customer.


Steel frame construction is a building method that utilizes steel columns, beams, and other structural elements as the primary support system for a building’s framework. In this construction technique, steel members are fabricated off-site and then assembled on-site to form the structural skeleton of the building. 

Contrasting Steel frame and Post-Frame

The primary difference between a wood post frame and a metal frame lies in the materials used for the structural framework of the building. Here’s a breakdown of the main distinctions:

  1. Materials:

    • Post-Frame: In post frame construction, large wooden posts or columns are the primary vertical supports of the building. These posts are typically made of treated lumber and are spaced widely apart, with horizontal framing members attached to them to form the walls and roof structure.
    • Steel Frame: In steel frame construction, steel columns, beams, and other structural elements are used as the primary support system for the building’s framework. Prefabricated steel components are fabricated off-site and then assembled on-site to create the structural skeleton of the building.
  2. Strength and Durability:

    • Post-Frame: Post-frame construction can be durable when properly constructed and maintained, but it may be more susceptible to issues like rot, pests, and decay over time, especially if not adequately treated and protected.
    • Steel Frame: Steel frame construction offers excellent strength and durability. Steel is inherently resistant to issues such as rot, pests, and decay, making metal frame buildings less susceptible to deterioration over time. Additionally, steel is fire-resistant, enhancing the safety of the structure.
  3. Cost:

    • Post-Frame: Post-frame construction is often more cost-effective than metal frame construction due to lower material and labor costs. Wood is generally less expensive than steel, and wood post frame buildings can be constructed using simpler construction techniques.
    • Steel Frame: Steel frame construction tends to be more expensive than wood post frame construction due to higher material and labor costs associated with steel. However, the long-term durability and reduced maintenance requirements of metal frame buildings may offset the initial higher cost.
  4. Design Flexibility:

    • Post-Frame: Post-frame construction offers some degree of design flexibility, allowing for various architectural styles and configurations. However, there may be limitations on the size and shape of the building due to structural considerations.
    • Steel Frame: Steel frame construction provides greater design flexibility and versatility compared to wood post frame construction. Steel components can be fabricated to accommodate a wide range of architectural styles and building configurations, including large clear spans and complex shapes.
  5. Construction Time:

    • Post-Frame: Post-frame construction can be relatively quick, as it typically involves simpler construction techniques compared to metal frame construction.
    • Steel Frame: Steel frame construction also offers fast construction times, particularly when using prefabricated steel components that can be quickly assembled on-site.

In summary, the choice between post-frame and steel frame construction depends on various factors such as budget, durability requirements, design preferences, and local building codes. Each method has its own advantages and disadvantages, so it’s essential to carefully consider these factors and assess which option best suits the specific needs of the project.