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Metal Building Terminology


A building component added to a basic building such as a door, window, vent etc.

Anchor Bolts

Bolts used to anchor structural members to a foundation or other support.  Usually refers to the bolts at the building perimeter and door jambs. Typically a "J" shaped bolt.

Anchor Bolt Plan

A plan view showing the size, location, and projection of all anchor bolts for the metal building system components, and the length and width of the foundation.

Base Plate

A plate attached to the base of a column that rests on the foundation or other support, usually secured by anchor bolts.

Bead Mastic

Sealant supplied in a continuous roll, normally used for sealing roof panel laps to insure water tightness.


A primary member, usually horizontal, that is subjected to bending loads.  There are three types: simple, continuous, and cantilever.

Bottom Chord

The member forming the bottom of a truss, usually a "C" Section.


A structural support projecting from a wall or column on which to fasten another structural member.  Examples are canopy brackets, lean-to brackets, and crane runway brackets.

Building Codes

Published regulations and ordinances established by a recognized agency (usually a county or parish) describing design loads, procedures and construction details for structures.

"C" Section

  A member cold-formed from steel coil in the shape of a "C" used for the primary framing.


Any overhang or projecting roof structure with the extreme end usually unsupported.

Chord The perimeter members of a truss (or trussed floor joist).  See Top Chord and Bottom Chord.
Clear Span

Buildings designed without internal support columns.


A plate or angle used to fasten two or more members together.  Either pre-welded to member or bolted on.

Closure Strip

A resilient strip formed  to the contour of ribbed panels used to close openings created by joining metal panels and flashing.

Cold Formed

The process of using press brakes or rolling mills to shape steel into desired cross sections at room temperature.

Collateral Load

All specified additional dead loads other than the metal building framing, sprinklers, mechanical and electrical systems, and ceilings.


A primary member used in a vertical position on a building to transfer loads from main roof beams, trusses, or rafters to the foundations.

Corner Column

Corner column (usually a "C" shape) located at the corner of a bearing frame endwall.


A baffle used to open  or close the throat of ventilators.

Dead Load    

The weight of all permanent construction, such as floor, roof, framing and covering members.

Deflection The transverse displacement of a structural member in the direction of load and measured from its no-load position.
Diaphragm Bracing

The resistance to racking generally offered by the covering system (roof and wall panels), fasteners, and secondary framing.


The line along the sidewall formed by the intersection of the planes of the roof and wall.

Eave Height

The vertical distance from finished floor to top of the eave strut.

Eave Strut

A structural member at the eave to support roof panels and wall panels.  It may also transmit wind forces from roof bracing to wall bracing.


The on-site assembly of pre-engineered components to form complete structure.


To manufacture, form, construct or assemble a product or component.


Clips or screws used to attach panels to the structure (member screws) or each other (stitch screws)

Fixed Base

A column base that is designed to resist rotation as well as horizontal or vertical movement.


The projecting edge of a structural member.

Flange Brace

A brace from flange of column or rafter to girt or purlin to provide lateral support and stability.


A pad or mat, usually of concrete, located under a column, wall or other structural member that is used to distribute the loads from that member into the supporting soil.


The substructure on which a building rests.


The primary and secondary structural members (columns, rafters, girts, purlins, brace rods, etc.) that go together to make up the skeleton of a structure to which the covering can be applied.

Framed Openings

Framework (headers and jambs) and flashing that surround an opening in the wall or roof of a building; usually for field installed accessories, such as overhead doors or powered wall fans.


A triangular portion of the endwall of  a building, directly under the sloping roof and above the eave height line.

Gage or Gauge

Thickness of steel or distance between holes punched in flange, base or splice plates.


A secondary horizontal structural member that supports vertical loads.


Reinforcing bar used to help transfer anchor bolt shear (due to column thrust) to concrete floor mass. The "U" shaped hair-pin wraps around the anchor bolts inside the slab.


The portion of a truss where the top chord and the bottom chord meet.  Usually occurs at the connection of  the wall.


A horizontal framing structural member over a door, window, or other framed opening usually constructed of a "C" channel.

High Strength Bolts

Any bolt make from steel having a tensile strength in excess of 100,000 pounds per square inch (p.s.i.). Some examples are ASTM A-325, A-354, A-449.

Hot-rolled Shapes

Steel sections (angles, channels, I-beams, etc.) which are formed by rolling mills while the steel is in semi-molten state.


Any material used in building construction to reduce heat transfer.

Intermediate Bay

A distance between two main frames within a building, other than end frames. 

Jack Beam

A beam used to support another beam or rafter to eliminate a column support.


A side columns of a doorway or opening.


A unit of measure equal to 1,000 pounds.


The connecting area of a column and rafter of a structural frame such as a rigid frame.


A structure such as a shed, having only one slope or pitch and depending upon another structure for partial support.

Live Load

All loads, including snow, exerted on a roof except dead, wind and lateral loads.


An opening provided with foxed or movable, slanted fins to allow flow of air.


Metal Building Manufacturers Association.


The tendency of a force to cause rotation about a point or axis.

Monolithic Construction

A method of pouring concrete grade beam and floor slab together to form the building foundation without forming and pouring each separately.


That portion of the vertical wall of a building that extends above the roof line at the intersection of the wall and roof.


The uppermost point of the gable.

Piece Mark

A number given to each separate part of the building for erection identification.  Also called Mark Number or Part Number.


An inclination or slope measured in degrees, or percent, or by the ration of the rise and run.

Portal Frame

A rigid frame structure so designed that it offers rigidity and stability to its plane.  It is used to resist longitudinal loads where diagonal bracing is not permitted. Also called a Wind Bent.  


A secondary, cold formed horizontal structural member located in the roof to support sheeting, that is itself supported by the primary structure framing.


A primary beam supporting the roof system.


The intersection of roof and endwall.

Rake Angle

Angle attached to purlins and rake for attachment of endwall sheeting.


The resisting forces at the column bases of a frame holding the frame in equilibrium under a given load condition.


A raised line in the flat portion of a metal panel that gives added strength and minimizes the appearance of oilcanning.


Highest point on the roof of the building that describes a horizontal line running the length of the building.

Ridge Cap

A transition of the roofing materials along the ridge of a roof.

Rigid Frame

A structural frame consisting of members joined together with rigid (or moment) connections so as to render the frame stable with respect to imposing loads, without the need for bracing in its plane.


Forming metal shapes by applying pressure through rollers.

Roof Slope (Pitch)

The angle that a roof surface makes with the horizontal.  Usually expressed in units of vertical rise to 12 units of run.

Secondary Members

Framing consisting of minor load bearing members of a structure, such as purlins, girts, eave struts, etc.

Seismic Loads

The assumed lateral load acting in any horizontal direction on the structural system due to the action of earthquakes.

Self-Drilling  Screws

A fastener that combines the functions of drilling and tapping.  It is used for attaching panels to purlins and girts.

Single Slope

A sloping roof with one surface.  The slope is from one to the opposite wall of a rectangular building.


A roof accessory to admit light.

Snow Load

A load imposed on buildings or other structures due to snowfall.


The underside covering of any exterior portion of a metal building system.


The distance between supports of beams, girders or trusses.


The term used for an area of 100 square feet.

Standing Seam

Seam type that consists of an upturned rib, that may also be structural, with a watertight seam.  It is made by turning up the edges of two adjacent metal panels and then folding them over in one of a variety of ways.

Structural Members

Load carrying members.  May be hot-rolled sections, cold-formed shapes, or built up shapes.


A brace fitted into a framework to resist forces parallel to its length.

Tensile Strength

The longitudinal pulling stress a member can bear without pulling apart.

Top Chord The member forming the top of a truss, usually a "C" Section.
Tributary Area

The area that contributes load to a specific structural component.


A method for pre-tensioning high-strength bolts.  The nut is turned a specified amount of rotation from the snug-tight position, corresponding to a few blows on an impact wrench or the full effort of a man using an ordinary spud wrench.

UL Rating

Underwriters Laboratories certification rating.


Wind load on a building which causes a load in the upward direction.

Valley Gutter

A channel used to carry off water from the "V" of roofs of a multi-gabled building.

Vapor Barrier

Material used to retard the flow of vapor or moisture into walls and thus prevent condensation within them.


In a truss, the interior members connecting between the top chord and the bottom chord, sometimes called diagonals or braces.  In a channel, track, or hot-rolled section, the portion of a structural member between the flanges.

Wind Bent

See Portal Column.

Wind Load

A load caused by the wind blowing from any horizontal direction.

"Z" Section

A member cold-formed from steel sheet in the shape of a block "Z".


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