For a Customized Man Cave, Steel Workshops are Tough to Beat

Steel sheds surpass traditional construction for their ability to withstand a far greater range of extreme climatic conditions and the minimum of maintenance they require – benefits that make them highly cost-effective in the long run.

This level of durability is due in large part to the steel components themselves, possessing a high tensile strength that will most likely never need to be replaced within the lifetime of the shop. In fact, it’s not unusual to find them paired with a rust-through warranty of at least 35 years. Plus, they come pre-painted and are often backed by a 40-year paint guarantee, ensuring they’ll look as good after 20 years as they did on the day you installed them.

Steel shop buildings are typically available in two main styles: traditional straight-wall and Quonset hut. Easily distinguished, the straight-wall design looks like a standard building while the Quonset looks like a loaf of bread. Depending on your intended usage and location, the architectural design of the Quonset adds extra value as it naturally provides an enhanced level of protection against extreme weather like snow, earthquakes, and high winds – even up to 150 mph!

Regardless of the style, common applications include:

  • Backyard storage for home
  • Home office
  • Manufacturing for small business
  • Woodworking
  • Metalworking
  • Auto body finishing and repair
  • Hobby garage or craft room
  • Extra carport

Endless customizations

Steel workshops are prefabricated, preformed, and predrilled. But that only makes them easy to assemble – it doesn’t mean they all look the same. Most kits can be customized to provide a wide range of add-ons that tailor the shed to your specific needs and desired appearance.

Some of the most popular customizations include:

  • Doors – Doors provide limitless access from a variety of different points and are available in a full range of sizes, styles, and pre-painted colors to match the sidewalls. Available options include man doors, curtain roll-up doors, and self-storage doors.
  • Monovent / Univent – These are ventilation units with dampers that expel air and help prevent condensation. They are typically circular and 20 inches in diameter for monovent and 10 feet long with a 9-inch throat for univents. Crafted for continuous run, material is often 26-gauge standard.
  • Curbs – Created to protect skylights, power roof exhausters, intake and relief vents, smoke hatches, and flues from cascading water and other debris, curbs are typically custom welded to size and tapered to match your roof’s pitch. Materials are often constructed from Galvalume Steel for enhanced corrosion resistance. Pipe flash is also available for pipes up to 16-1/4 inches in diameter.
  • Trim – From corner trim and eave trim to gable trim and window trim, these accessories quickly dress up any steel workshop to rival the appearance of traditional construction. Framed opening trim and base trim are two other options. All are crafted from stainless steel (often between 29 to 26 gauge) and come in a variety of colors.
  • Downspouts and gutters – Downspouts and gutters and essential in wet climates for their ability to direct rainwater away from your metal structure. Similar to other steel shed accessories, they are usually constructed of 26-gauge steel and come in more than 20 colors, featuring a zinc-aluminum coating to prevent rust.
  • Translucent light transmitting panels – Skylights by another name, light transmitting panels are crafted from fiberglass reinforced plastic to provide durability in extreme conditions (heavy snowfall being one) with low maintenance requirements. They also help to reduce lighting costs during daylight hours.

Steel buildings vs. standard construction

One of the few drawbacks to using steel is the expense of raw materials in comparison to wood. But that disparity is often short-lived. Because while steel is initially costly, the durability it provides can greatly outweigh the cost of the material over time. In addition, construction costs are noticeably lower than that of wood building materials (50% less by some estimates) due to the simplicity of the construction process and dramatically lower levels of waste and culled materials.

For example, stud framed (a.k.a. “stick frame”) buildings are estimated to cost between $23 and $40 per square foot in comparison to steel frame construction which can be as low as $12 to $18 per square foot.

With these figures in mind, you can expect to pay the following for popular steel shed kits:

Quonset 20' 20' $8,000
Quonset 30' 40' $10,000
Quonset 40' 40' $15,000
Quonset 40' 60' $20,000
Straight-Wall 20' 20' $11,000
Straight-Wall 30' 40' $14,000
Straight-Wall 40' 40' $18,000
Straight-Wall 40' 60' $23,000

Assembly and installation

Most kits come with step-by-step instructions that enable you to build a steel workshop on your own with basic tools.

It’s worth noting that, by some estimates, professional installation could assemble the same shed in almost half the time. But that convenience doesn’t come without cost – expect to pay an extra 15% to 20% for the project when subcontracting your assembly.