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Do You Need a Clear Span or a Modular Pre-Engineered Steel Building?

Choosing Metal Framing Based on the Lowest Cost or the Greatest Space

Drawing of a frame for a modular steel building.One of the most important decisions in purchasing a pre-engineered steel building is choosing the type of framing.  Which best fits the end-use, size, design, specifications, and budget for your project?

A RHINO steel framed building uses “rigid-frame” steel framing.

These types of steel buildings are also called “red-iron” buildings because of the red-oxide paint primer on the steel.

Clear Span Steel Building

The frame of a clear span building is self-supporting and requires no interior columns.  The interior is completely open and unobstructed.

A clear span system provides the maximum amount of usable floor space and maximum floor plan flexibility.

Clear span structures are available up to 150’ in width on RHINO standard steel structures.  Clear span widths of 200’ or more are also possible with a custom order.

Typically, clear span framing works well wherever maneuverability is a factor.  Clear span structures are ideal for:

As the open-span width increases, the size and weight of the steel framing members must also increase to handle the structural load.

Modular Metal Framing

Graphic image showing the seven different types of RHINO steel framing.In modular framing, interior columns evenly distribute the structural load.  Therefore, modular steel structures require lighter steel.  Less framing weight reduces the cost of not only the steel building framing, but often the foundation as well.

The cost differences between clear span and modular metal framing start to become noticeable at about 80’ in width.

Generally speaking, the wider the building, the greater the savings with a modular frame.

Unless unobstructed floor space is critical to the operation, most steel framed buildings wider than 150’ use modular span framing.  These may include:

  • Distribution Centers
  • Industrial Facilities
  • Large “Box” Stores as used for discount operations
  • Manufacturing Plants
  • Warehouses

If clear span space is not paramount to your building’s operation, consider getting quotes for both systems for comparison of pricing.


Clear span designs offer the most usable space; modular designs create the most economical steel structures.

Which Steel Building Framing is Right for Your Project?

Whatever your metal building needs, RHINO’s steel building framing specialists can provide you with expert guidance in choosing the best steel framed building for your specific application.  Our friendly and experienced staff will answer all your questions from building concept to completion.

Contact RHINO today.  Find out how quality-made, RHINO-tough steel structures can make your next building project a reality.

Call RHINO now at 940.383.9566.

 (Updated 8-18-2021.  Originally published 3-12-2013.)