Post-Frame Buildings vs. Steel-Frame Buildings

July 7, 2016

With many construction methods available to customers in the market for a new building, it’s important to note a handful of advantages in building a post-frame building as opposed to a steel-frame building.

As we noted here earlier this year, post-frame buildings are efficient, aesthetically pleasing and bring a lower price tag than alternative construction methods.


A post-frame building has thicker wall cavities than steel-frame buildings, creating a larger space for insulation and controlling energy costs 12 months out of the year. In the places where the insulation is interrupted – triple-laminated columns – post-frame buildings have natural insulating properties and conduct less heat than most steel-frame buildings.

Additionally, post-frame buildings include an attic, allowing for more effective ceiling insulation, enhanced air circulation and condensation control. In a standard steel-frame building, insulation is draped over roof purlins and compressed when the roofing is applied, resulting in the loss of nearly half of the thickness of the insulation.

For Morton Buildings, the Energy Performer insulation system has been in place for nearly 50 years and continues to evolve as the premier efficiency model in the industry.

At the time it was introduced, the system was so advanced it exceeded energy conservation mandates that were not introduced until two decades later. The configuration also allows plumbing and electrical work to be placed between the insulation and finished wall – allowing minimal penetration.


Post-frame buildings are also aesthetically pleasing thanks to a 4/12 roof pitch, overhangs and a variety of trims. The building versatility gives customers a wide variety of options throughout the design process.

The most common exterior found on a Morton buildings is its commercial-quality Hi-Rib steel, but brick, stonework, masonry or siding can also be featured.

Knowing the Facts

A potential customer weighing his or her option of building a post-frame building or a steel-frame building must be aware that a fair amount of misconceptions exist about post-frame buildings. Here are some facts to be aware of:

FACT: A wood-frame building is stronger than steel-frame building

When standing alone, a piece of steel is arguably stronger than a piece of wood.

But when the components of a post-frame building– a strong foundation, triple-laminated timber columns, heavy-duty trusses and a wide variety of durable exteriors – are put together, the strength and durability often times exceed that of a steel-frame building.

A post-frame building from Morton Buildings is a precisely engineered system that is built to withstand the test of time and features the industry’s strongest warranty.

Additionally, a post-frame building maintains its strength much more effectively than a steel-frame building in the event of a fire.

FACT: Wood structures stand the test of time
A post-frame building from Morton Buildings features triple-laminated timber columns manufactured out of No. 1 Southern Yellow Pine. The upper columns are staggered and hydraulically compressed for additional strength.

The columns composed of No. 1 Southern Yellow Pine – a renewable resource – also store carbon long after the tree has been harvested, reducing Morton’s carbon footprint.

A Morton building also features a variety of foundation types, most notably the exclusive concrete Morton Foundation System, replacing treated wood in the ground with the strength of concrete lower columns and eliminating issues of decay.

FACT: Post-frame buildings are long-lasting and can withstand extreme weather

Owning a national presence with more than 100 construction centers nationwide, Morton Buildings builds post-frame structures in a wide variety of climate conditions. Oppressive heat, bitter cold, hurricanes, tornadoes and blizzards are a handful of the extreme weather events that face Morton buildings each year.

Morton uses only the strongest and more reliable building materials, ensuring its buildings withstand the elements. Post-frame buildings from Morton have a long history of standing up to extreme weather.

Additionally, a post-frame building from Morton is protected by the industry’s strongest warranty. The Morton warranty, which in some cases lasts as long as 50 years, protects customers from snow loads, decay and insect attack, concrete column damage, paint flaking and rusting, wind loads and roof leaks.

In the event of a renovation or repair, the engineering of post-frame buildings allows for easier on-site alterations.

FACT: Post-frame buildings are engineered to meet code requirements
Not only do post-frame buildings from Morton meet local code requirements, a Morton sales consultant will work alongside a customer to ensure the process is done thoroughly. The Morton sales consultant is supported by a dedicated staff of design professionals specializing in architecture and engineering, guaranteeing a strong and efficient structure.

In fact, the Morton sales consultant will assist the customer in many aspects of the project, including site planning and preparation, coordinating subcontractors and assisting with any warranty claims or questions.

FACT: Post-frame buildings do not need interior support columns

While Morton provides standard heavy-duty trusses with widths of 18′, 24′, 30′, 36′, 42′, 48′, 54′, 60′, 66′, 72′, and 81′, an additional option exists for customers wishing to build a post-frame building with clear spans even larger. A Morton hybrid building combines the versatility and efficiency of Morton’s triple-laminated timber columns with the strength of steel trusses, giving customers the option of building a clear-span building as wide as 150 feet.

Because of this, a post-frame building from Morton Buildings does not need interior support columns.

FACT: The construction timeline and crew capacities of post-frame buildings allow for quick construction

With six major manufacturing plants, a post-frame building from Morton Buildings is pre-engineered prior to its arrival at a construction site. Once delivered by a Morton-employed truck driver, a highly skilled crew composed of Morton-employed workers go to work in bringing a Morton building to life.

The construction process allows Morton to complete nearly 6,000 projects annually. It is time-tested and efficient, supported by more than a quarter-million satisfied customers over several generations.

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