Understanding Metal Construction Industry Terms, Part 2 - Metal Building And Wall Systems

By Shawn Zuver, DesignandBuildwithMetal.com

In my previous column, I reviewed some of the many terms used in metal construction which are known by multiple names. That column focused on roofing terms, while this one will cover buildings and walls.

ACM: Aluminum Composite Material is a Smooth Faced aluminum material that is a popular choice for architectural wall panel applications. Through efforts of some companies who supply ACM and fabricate panels from the material, many people now refer to ACM as MCM - Metal Composite Material.

Butler Building: Butler Manufacturing Company has a worldwide reputation for its metal building systems, so much so that it is frequently used as a generic reference to metal buildings. I’ve heard this countless times through the years, from those outside of the metal construction industry and also from metal building contractors with decades of experience. Like Kleenex, which is a specific brand of paper tissues and related products, Butler is a specific brand of buildings.

Gage, Gauge or Guage: There are a few variations of Gauge, the measurement commonly used to measure material thickness. We don’t get too picky about which version is used on DesignandBuildwithMetal.com, though we’re most likely to use Gauge. And, yes, there are many who would prefer to have material thickness identified in a decimal/inches format.

Galvalume: A proprietary aluminum-zinc coating used on sheet steel to protect against corrosion, Galvalume also goes by the Zincalume name because of its licensing agreements. In the western regions of the U.S., for example, you’re likely to encounter Zincalume.

Light-Gauge Steel Framing: Light-gauge steel framing is also commonly referred to as Cold-Formed Steel Framing. While “light” is a subjective measurement, the fact that the material can be cold-formed into its shapes (cees, hat sections, etc.) is a bit more definitive. You’re sure to find both terms widely used.

Pre-Engineered Metal Building: Steel-Framed Building, Steel Building, Metal Building and Metal Building System are all terms that are used somewhat interchangeably. Pre-Engineered refers specifically to buildings that have been packaged by the manufacturer/supplier as opposed to Custom-Engineered buildings that are designed to meet specific project needs. Many people use the term Pre-Engineered for all metal buildings, along with its abbreviated form of PEBS. While we’re likely to use metal building or metal building system, we can’t find fault with any of these.

Pole Barn: This is a term that makes many people in the post-frame building industry cringe, despite being an endearing phrase to others, because it pigeon-holes post-frame construction into the image of being used exclusively for farm buildings.

Sandwich Panels: Insulated Metal Panels, consisting of a form core that is injected between two metal panels. It's now more common to see the term Insulated Metal Panels (or IMPs) used, but there are still people who call them Sandwich Panels or the combined phrase of Insulated Metal Sandwich Panels.

Tin Shed: This reminds me of an 8’ x 10’ structure in your backyard that holds the lawn mower and shovels, but some people use this slang term to describe metal building systems. If you take a look at the case studies in our Project Type Gallery, I’m sure you’ll agree that this one is very far off base.

To see my previous column on Metal Roofing Terms, click here.

Shawn Zuver is editorial/content director for DesignandBuildwithMetal.com. He has been covering the metal construction industry, including residential and non-residential construction, since 1985. To contact Shawn, email shawnz@designandbuildwithmetal.com.

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