Tube Steel VS Cold Formed Steel Buildings

In the market for a steel building but not sure if you need a light gauge tube steel building or a heavy-duty cold formed building? Let’s go over the differences between building types so you can make the right decision.

First, what will your building will be used for? Is the building for living in or for parking vehicles and extra storage?

If you want to live in the building then you need a cold formed steel building. Light gauge tube steel buildings are not meant for living in. Some manufacturers will offer custom engineering to make your building habitable but most manufacturers don’t want the liability.

Cold formed steel buildings can be engineered on the fly for barndominiums, shouses or other living quarters. Cold formed buildings also offer a wider range of styling options, configurations and designs.

If a garage or shop is all you want, a light gauge tube steel building could be the right choice. Let’s dig in to both and see what’s best for you.

Cold Formed Steel Buildings: Pros & Cons

Cold formed steel buildings are the bridge between light framed tube steel buildings and red iron structures. They use a combination of C-channel and Z-channel components to form a sturdy structure. We call it the metal pole barn. Here are the pros and cons:


  • Can be engineered to live in
  • Can be engineered for a wide range of wind and snow loads
  • Up to 100ft widths available (depending on snow loads)
  • Easily engineered for living quarters
  • Residential or commercial applications
  • Unlimited lengths
  • Heights up to 40ft
  • Easily add mezzanine for second floor
  • Price includes delivery and engineering
  • Can deliver building kit anywhere in the continental U.S.


  • More expensive than tube steel carport buildings if 30′ wide or less
  • Larger column widths take up interior space (varies based on snow load)
  • Garage doors and windows not included

Tube Steel Buildings: Pros & Cons

Tube steel buildings are an affordable solution for accessory structures such as garages, workshops or other non-habitable buildings. Here are the pros and cons:


  • Fast, easy and affordable accessory structure
  • Affordable at 30′ wide or less
  • Installed in a week or less (typically)
  • Can be installed on dirt, asphalt or concrete
  • Available in most areas across the U.S.


  • Not engineered to live in
  • Limited wind and snow loads
  • Expensive to engineer outside of generic plans
  • Not available in some areas

Now that you’ve seen the differences between tube steel and cold formed steel buildings, which one is right for you?

Ultimately, the deciding factor should come down to why you need the building. If you plan on living in the building, cold formed is what you need even if you don’t plan to live in it right away. If all you need is a place to park cars or store extra stuff then a tube steel building could be the solution.

We offer both tube steel buildings and cold formed buildings across the United States so request a quote today. Visit our contact us page to reach out.

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