Agriculture is a 24/7, day-in and day-out endeavor, and that doesn’t just apply to the people involved. It applies to the equipment and buildings as well.

The forces of nature and the rigors of day-to-day operations create a challenge for building in agricultural settings. From barns, stables, and machine sheds to greenhouses and storage facilities, the importance of sturdy, long-lasting structures cannot be overstated. The demands of an agricultural setting – often involving exposure to chemicals, livestock waste, water, and weather – call for specialized building materials, especially (but not limited to!) roofing and siding.

These buildings play a critical role in safeguarding valuable assets (livestock, machinery, seed, feed, etc.) and ensuring seamless operations. Construction in such a setting requires consideration of the environment and the structure’s function since durability becomes a crucial factor. Whether your agricultural setting is a family farm, a large custom operation, or an industrialized site, corrugated metal has emerged as an ideal choice. Farmers, ranchers, and growers choose to build with metal due to its durability, longevity, flexibility, cost-effectiveness, and appearance. It’s a solid choice for agribusiness operators intent on creating agricultural structures that will weather the elements and meet the demands of a thriving ag operation.


Metal panels are one of the most durable building materials on the market and are ideal for roofs, siding, and decking among other uses. Bring on the rain, snow, sleet, and hail! Even when spanning large areas, metal panels are strong while still being lightweight. This makes them ideal for large barns, machine sheds and shops where high ceilings and vast open areas are required. Besides resisting corrosion, metal is also resistant to termites and other insects. It’s also non-combustible – a great benefit in spaces where welding, machinery, and portable heaters may be in play.

Farming can be a dirty job, and outbuildings of all kinds need regular cleaning – and that means moisture. Hosing down equipment or washing walls in a milking parlor requires somewhere for the water to escape, so well-planned floor drain systems and slip-proof decking are part of the equation for structures where water is often present. But moisture will still splash the walls and collect in corners. Metal walls and panels are well-suited to such an environment. Especially if coated with protective finishes, metal is not apt to rot or otherwise deteriorate. Natural wood breaks down over time due to exposure to the environment, even if it’s treated. Metal can corrode over time, but a variety of finishes, thoughtful design, and careful planning can help keep decay to a minimum.

The finish on the panels you choose to build with can have an enormous impact on the functionality and durability of your structures. Not only can corrugated metal panels hold up against the elements, but they also hold up against the tests of time, meaning minimal maintenance year in and year out – that’s one less chore on a list that’s surely lengthy.

Durability is of utmost concern for sprawling animal confinement structures, such as hog or turkey barns. Not only does the structure itself need to be sturdy, but the surfaces – inside and out – need to be durable as well. The combination of animal waste-generated bacteria, humidity, and water from cleaning creates a highly corrosive environment. Painted, zinc-phosphate-treated G90 HDG is particularly well-suited for the confinement of hogs, cattle, and poultry when combined with a vapor barrier and adequate ventilation. Since these animals live the bulk of their lives in confinement and their waste creates high levels of amines, sulfides, urea, and other corrosives that readily attack aluminum iron, and zinc, material choice, design (particularly when it comes to waste removal processes) and maintenance each plays a key role in ensuring the durability of the structure.

Corrosion can even happen in roofing due to fumes and anywhere manure rests for long periods, like corners or walls. These issues can be mitigated with proper ventilation systems, regular cleaning schedules, and quick attention to needed repairs. In this instance, design and maintenance are as important as the material choice but metal panel construction is ideal.


Metal panels last three to four times longer than their wood counterparts and don’t get brittle and crack like fiberglass panels. Depending on the type of metal and coatings used, corrugated metal panels have a lifespan of 40 to 60 years, even when withstanding harsh elements like wind, rain, hail, and drastic temperature fluctuations. On average, a corrugated metal roof has a lifespan that’s twice as long as that of traditional asphalt shingles.

That lifespan can extend even further if you recycle your materials once they no longer serve their original purpose. Since construction and demolition account for up to 40% of all waste, choosing green building materials is important. Not only do metal panel structures last longer than wood construction (and thus need to be replaced less frequently), but the panels are also often made from recycled metals and are completely recyclable themselves.


As agricultural technology advances, buildings must follow. Larger buildings with higher ceilings are needed to house larger equipment, accommodate robotic milkers in the dairy industry, or handle the requirements of cage-free egg-laying facilities.

From a design and engineering standpoint, building with metal panels is very flexible and allows for many variations and features other building materials lack. Since aluminum and steel panels are relatively lightweight yet incredibly strong compared to other materials, metal buildings can provide a variety of complex layouts, including large, unobstructed open spaces.

Adding on to or renovating an existing corrugated metal building for a slightly different or enhanced use is becoming standard practice. Skylights, advanced fan or ventilation systems, and larger overhead doors are often part of the plan for renovations and existing structures alike. Many owners opt to incorporate insulated offices or even living quarters into storage, shops, or similar structures. Insulated storage, she-sheds, shouses, and even stables are steadily increasing in popularity as buildings are being used for multiple purposes.

Flat grain storage and shelter for liquid chemical, seed, and seed treating equipment are other popular uses for corrugated metal panel construction. Water tanks, irrigation piping, fencing, and even livestock trailers are other ideal uses for various types of corrugated metal.

Cost Effectiveness

Investing in ag buildings is significant, and materials cost is a major factor. The cost savings gained by using corrugated steel or aluminum for a barn, shop, shed stable, or other livestock structures are huge. It’s the number one reason cited by farmers for choosing metal structures over traditional wood construction. Compared to wood, fiberglass, and other common agricultural building materials, corrugated metal’s value is found in how long it remains fully functional. Savvy ag producers know that a longer-lasting barn means avoiding additional expenses when it needs to be razed and replaced.

In general, metal panels are easier to install, and progress is much faster than traditional stick-built construction. For example, a metal panel covers several square feet with each sheet; when compared to roofing shingle-by-shingle, it’s clear why installation moves along much more quickly. Since less labor is needed to erect the structure, fewer man-hours add to the initial construction costs. Some metal panel barns are prefabricated and take even less manpower to build. Further, metal structures require less maintenance than their wooden counterparts, adding to the cost savings over time.

Appearance and Aesthetics

There are many finishes, colors, and profiles from which to choose when selecting your roofing and siding panels, trim, and decking so you’ll be able to get the look you want. Want all your buildings to have a cohesive, professional look? It adds to the brand when the entire farm tract has a unified, clean appearance. Often visible from far and wide, visitors, customers, and vendors will know they’ve arrived at your operation by the aesthetic of the structures.

On a family farm, would you like your outbuildings to coordinate with the house colors or even match the roof? It’s all possible with metal panels. Also of note, seemingly simple choices can make a difference to your comfort level: Choose a light color for your barn roof – it will reflect the sun’s heat and keep your barn cooler during the heat of summer.

Given these benefits, it’s easy to see why corrugated metal is a popular choice for agricultural construction. It offers a practical, durable, long-lasting, efficient, and attractive way to protect machinery, livestock, and other assets. If ag structures are in your future, an experienced custom sheet metal manufacturer like CMI is your go-to source for the right materials for the project. We have over 100 years of experience supplying custom solutions for agricultural applications. If you’d like to learn more about our unique capabilities or the different metal types we offer, we’d be happy to help. Give us a call today.