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The C-Channel Metal Building System

September 16, 2022

Steel garage building

In a previous blog we discussed the different Metal Building Systems in the Norsteel Product line. We have addressed important fundamental concepts and terminology that our clients need to understand when working with architectural consultants. With the basic concepts down, let’s examine one of our most popular building options.

Our most economical and simplest steel building system, the C-Channel Steel Building System, is aptly named as it’s constructed from steel components that have a “c” shape. Our customers kept asking for simpler steel building options that they could construct on their own, so we at Norsteel created the EasyBuild Steel Building product line specifically for those Do-It-Yourself customers. Each EasyBuild kit uses the c-channel construction method to achieve an easy DIY option that doesn’t sacrifice on quality or strength.

This blog will provide you with an introduction to our EasyBuild Steel Building Kit. It will give you an overview of the structural support system that gives it strength and the components that give it aesthetic appeal. 

What is the Norsteel EasyBuild C-Channel?

History and Origin

Our EasyBuild steel structure can be described as a C-Channel building because it relies on c-channel components for the structure itself. These are bolted together to construct I-beams, forming the structural basis for this metal building system.

The Norsteel EasyBuild Steel Building can be provided at the same affordable cost as a Quonset or wood build while maintaining the regular conventional look and effect as a Rigid Frame Steel Structure. This is because the EasyBuild is a simple structure. There is less design required to engineer it, there is no welding in manufacturing, and it is a lighter gauge structure, so there is less steel.

c-channel metal building system

In fact, our EasyBuild Metal Buildings are affordable and more efficient on every level. From engineering, to manufacturing, to shipping, and even off-loading and assembly; the EasyBuild is the most affordable choice for simple, clear-span space –specifically, these C-Channel Steel Buildings are perfect for customers looking for structures up to 35’ in width.

Because it is marketed as a Do-it-Yourself Kit that can be assembled with minimal use of equipment (many of our customers assemble with ladders and scaffolding), the savings continue right into the assembly of the EasyBuild steel building. Full crews and heavy machinery are not necessary to erect these steel buildings when using our easy-to-follow DIY instruction manual and blueprints.  The new, innovative creation of our EasyBuild Foundation Kit further increases savings in time and money by decreasing the amount of concrete that is needed in the foundation.

EasyBuild Steel Building – Components

Our EasyBuild Structures have a hot-dip galvanized steel frame. Zinc coats all primary and secondary framing members in our EasyBuild model. This zinc galvanizing process prevents rust and ensures a long life-cycle of performance.

1. Primary Structural Support System

C-Channel Diagram

When we speak about the Primary Structural Support of a Pre-Engineered Steel Building, essentially, we are addressing the framing of the building.  The Primary structural support system is the main support of a pre-engineered steel building. For this reason, we often refer to the primary structural support systems as the main framing system of the building. It follows that when a frame is at an Endwall, it is called an Endwall Frame, and when a frame is within the building, it is called an Interior frame.

Interior and Endwall Frames are laid out in a carefully engineered pattern to provide the primary support for Metal Building Systems.

The distance between the centerline of each of the frames is called a Bay.  Bay Spacing is an important factor in determining the design of your structure. The required width of each bay is something that customers should consider because it will have an effect on where you are able to place windows and service doors along the sidewalls of your EasyBuild metal building system.

C-Channel Diagram

The Primary Framing in our EasyBuild Steel Structure consists of galvanized, C-Channels which are bolted together to form the structural basis of the building. Typically, these c-shaped channels are 8” in depth, but this can change depending on the design and location of the steel building. Two C-Channels bolted back to back form the “I” beam that is equivalent to the primary framing of the Rigid Frame Metal Building System.

Tip: In keeping with the simplicity of the EasyBuild steel structure, Interior and Endwall Frames are created equally, and there are no expandable Endwalls.

Clear Span Primary Framing

By far the most functional component of Pre-Engineered Steel buildings is the Clear-Span Primary Framing system. We call these frames “Clear-Span” simply because they require no interior columns or support between the exterior columns. An amazing thing for any customer looking to achieve 100% usable interior space! In fact, it is the Clear-Span Rigid Frame that first revolutionized construction and made metal buildings such an incredibly versatile and innovative investment.

The frame on our EasyBuild steel building has straight vertical columns attaching to straight rafters. These c-channels bolt together to form the I Beams of the steel building – meaning that if you took a cross-section through either a column or rafter section, you would have an I-shape.

In our EasyBuild product line, the primary framing is reinforced with thick metal plates in three specific spots on each frame:

  • at the interior center point where the rafters meet and join to form the peak of the building and,
  • where the columns of the frame are connected to the rafter beams – at the Haunch, on each side of the building.

The center point and the haunch are the thickest parts of the primary framing in the EasyBuild Metal Building system simply because these are load bearing spots on the building. It follows that they must support great force, and so, we must reinforce that area with thick steel plates.

Exactly like the Rigid Frame Metal Buildings, the EasyBuild Primary Framing is designed to bear the load for half the bay of the roof on either side of its location and transfer that loading to the foundation.

Tip: Unlike the Rigid Frame, the primary framing components of our EasyBuild steel structures can be bolted together in sub-assemblies on the ground, where work is faster and safer. This requires fewer lifts and fewer connections to be made in the air by our DIY customers.

2. Secondary Structural Support System

Purlins and Girts are the primary components of the secondary structural support system. These are steel components that run horizontally across the roof and walls and span the primary structural support systems.

Girts and Purlins essentially have the same uses with the only difference between the two being the location on the steel frame building. These structural members have 2 main functions: to provide surfaces onto which the roof and wall panels are screwed, and to transfer loads to the primary framing.

The Purlins

We refer to the secondary system that provides structural support to the roof as the Purlins.

The Purlins on our EasyBuild Structure consist of galvanized z-channels which are 6” in depth. These 6” purlins are standard in the EasyBuild Structure, but purlins may be produced in greater depth  to provide greater strength to structures that will be constructed in areas with high snow loads. The depth of the purlin as well as the spacing, is determined by the engineering itself and is dictated by both the design of the structure as well as its location.

The job of the purlins is to transfer roof loads to the primary structural support system, which in turn transfers the loads to the foundation.

C-Channel Diagram
The Girts

We refer to the secondary system that provides structural support to the walls of a Metal Building System, as the Girts.

Girts run horizontally between the frames of the walls and are attached to the columns.

Like the Purlins, the Girts of our EasyBuild Structure consist of galvanized z-channels and the spacing of the Girts, varies with the load imposed on them. The depth of the Girts used in a structure is also determined by the particular loading requirements for that structure. Like purlins, girts are typically 6 inches in depth. Occasionally, deeper secondary members are necessary for specific applications and site locations.

The Girts take the loads imposed on the wall system and transfer them to the frames, which in turn, transfer them to the foundation.

Tip: One last thing to mention when we are discussing secondary structural members of a metal building system, is that the Eave Strut is located at the intersection of the roof and the exterior wall. It acts as both the first Purlin and the last Girt. This is important because the building height for a pre-engineered steel building is always recorded as the measurement to the top of this steel member – It is the eave height that is recorded as the height for the building, not the peak height of the structure.

3. The Bracing System

The final structural support system of the EasyBuild Steel Building is the Bracing system. As its name implies, the bracing system functions to resist the forces of the elements and to transfer these loads to the secondary and primary framing systems. The Bracing System for the EasyBuild Structure is accomplished with a combination of Elbow Bracing and Diaphragm Bracing.

Elbow Bracing

Elbow Bracing, is used to brace the building against forces from the elements. The elbow bracing on the EasyBuild Steel Structure is found between the girts and the primary framing system. Thick steel members are used to provide bridges of additional strength and are bolted and bent into position in the corners from the girts to the primary frames.

Where the bracing goes and how much is needed depends on the design of the building and its location.  A structure that is situated in a municipality with high wind load for example, will require more bracing than one in a different municipality with mild wind. Likewise, a structure designed with an open wall, will require more bracing than a structure that is completely closed.

Diaphragm Bracing

Another type of bracing that is used to establish structural integrity in a pre-engineered steel building is Diaphragm Bracing. Diaphragm Bracing is inherent in most metal building systems, and results from the presence of the cladding – the exterior panels that cover the primary and secondary framing of the steel building.  Cladding provides the building with aesthetically pleasing colour, and it obviously finishes the wall and roof skeleton of the building. In doing so, it provides yet another defensive brace against the loadings that impinge on the structure itself.

Our EasyBuild Metal Building System relies heavily on diaphragm bracing for structural support.  This means that the number and size of doors will be limited, especially on the Sidewalls of the building, simply because removing too much of the cladding means compromising the structural integrity of the building.

4. The EasyBuild Paneling System

Wall Panels

The wall panels for our EasyBuild Steel Building come in twelve popular colors with a 40-year limited warranty against chipping, cracking, flaking or peeling. The paint has a siliconized polyester finish with a substrate galvanized coating beneath the paint providing further protection against rust.

The wall panels are continuous from floor to eave and meet or exceed required wind loads. These panels are 26-gauge as standard. All wall panels are attached to the girts with screws that come assembled with neoprene washers. The washers eliminate the potential for rust by preventing damage to the sheeting. The heads of the screws are painted to match the colour of the sheeting. They will not rust, tarnish or turn black.

Roof Cladding

Galvalume roof panels are standard on all our EasyBuild steel buildings. Our roof panels are 26-gauge high-tensile steel with a corrugation depth of 1-1/4”. The Purlin Bearing Rib (PBR) roof system provides a full overlap, which means our buildings are weather-tight, even under extreme conditions.

Rigid-rib panels are designed for long-life and pre-cut to building dimensions. AZ55 Galvalume® is an aluminum/zinc coating, which protects the roof sheeting against rust. It requires no maintenance or painting to retain its original luster and is comprised of 55% aluminum, 44% zinc and 1% silicone.

The AZ55 roof panels have a high aluminum content providing superior protection against rust and backed by a 25-year, limited rust-through perforation warranty. In addition, the self-drilling roof fasteners are stainless steel capped and come fully assembled with a self-sealing neoprene washers for a weather-tight seal and a limited lifetime rust warranty.

Our EasyBuild Steel Buildings come standard with a screw-down Galvalume roof system.

Trim Package

The Trim Package for the EasyBuild Structure is supplied at no additional charge and serves to provide a finished appearance as well as added protection against leaks and the possibility of rodent and insect infestation.

Trim is available in six complementary colors.

Closing Out

Norsteel’s EasyBuild Steel Building System is the ideal choice for DIY projects. In fact, we began carrying this product line specifically for our Do-it-Yourself Customers who had been asking for a simpler pre-engineered steel building that they could construct on their own.

The Norsteel EasyBuild Steel Building offers the same basic pre-engineered design as our Rigid Frame metal buildings. All of our EasyBuild C-Channel buildings have the same strong engineering, look, and effect of their rigid framed cousins, all while maintaining the same affordable cost of a Quonset or wood structure.

This is because the EasyBuild is a simple construction with fewer options, making it affordable and more efficient on every level. From engineering, to manufacturing, to shipping, and even off-loading and assembly; the EasyBuild is the most affordable option for simple, clear-span space – perfect for clients looking for steel structures 35’ in width or smaller. The simplicity, affordability, and ease associated with the EasyBuild makes it a particularly popular choice for garages and backyard shops.

It took us a long time to design a DIY product line that measured up to the Norsteel standards. Going so far as to put one together ourselves with our consultant team to make sure it was everything that we were hoping for in a do-it-yourself steel building before we offered it to our customers. The EasyBuild Steel Building Kit is a welcome addition to the Norsteel product line.

Click the link below to download Norsteel’s EasyBuild brochure!

Contact Us Today!

When you buy a building from Norsteel, we become your partner throughout the construction process. We work with you, or with your general contractor, to ensure that all your building requirements are met. Your project is our project, and we’ll be with you the whole way through.

For more information on specific building applications, click here to learn more about our line of products. If you have any questions or comments, click here to contact us today.

About the author 

Michelle Keenan

Michelle is one of two owner-operators of Norsteel Buildings, alongside her husband Sean. Michelle has more than two decades of experience in steel building design and construction, and has worked with thousands of customers over the years to make their building dreams come true. Under Michelle's leadership, Norsteel has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Builders in North America 5 years in a row.

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  1. I appreciate that this post reminded us when looking for a steel building, it is best for us to be mindful of the quality as well as the material used. In doing so, we will have a fair idea of its quality. I will definitely keep this information in mind.

  2. My mother would like to have a metal building built in her backyard because this is where the garden tools will be placed, which is why she has decided to start looking for a steel supplier. Well, you made a pretty good point that this type of material is very sturdy. Thank you for sharing here as well that this will last longer.

  3. I want to get a nice durable building made, but I'm not sure how to put it together. It makes sense that I would want to get a metal shed for this! That seems like a good way to ensure that it lasts a long time.

  4. It's great that this post reminds us to consider both the quality of the steel and the material itself while looking for steel construction. Thank you so much for being so helpful! I'm looking forward to your next blog!

  5. It's awesome that you talked about the importance of having a designed metal for the foundation of the building. My uncle mentioned to me last night that his friend is hoping to find a metal building contractor for his desired self-storage building, and he asked if I have any idea what is the best option to do. Thanks to this informative article and I'll be sure to tell him that he can consult a well-known metal building package company as they can answer all his inquiries.

  6. This DIY system looks fantastic! Thank you for your sharing! I think it will be helpful for those who want to do it on their own but are worried about the operation difficulties.

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