magazine top

Self-storage facilities are some of the most profitable property types, attracting increased attention from business owners and developers. Making the most of this opportunity requires attention to detail, such as selecting the right self-storage building materials.

The self-storage industry has an average profit margin of 41%, almost double that of all sectors. Choosing the right materials will help you minimize construction and operating costs to help you achieve those profits sooner. If you look at existing facilities, you’ll notice steel is by far the most popular option. Here’s why.


Steel’s durability makes it one of the best self-storage building materials. Unlike wood, it’s not flammable and doesn’t risk warping amid changing humidity levels. It’s also resistant to moisture and insects, which protects customers’ belongings.

Similarly, steel provides more protection against the elements than many other building materials. It’s stronger than concrete against shearing and tension, making it ideal for withstanding high winds or other weather-related risks. It also maintains this strength over decades.

While other materials may be sufficient for different applications, self-storage facilities need to be resilient more than anything else. Steel structures provide more resiliency over longer periods than most alternatives, so they’re a natural choice for storage units.


Another reason why steel is the ideal material for self-storage is that it’s relatively inexpensive. Construction material costs have skyrocketed amid surging demand and supply shortages, and self-storage businesses are typically large facilities. Consequently, construction costs can quickly accumulate when building these structures, so you need an affordable option to maximize your return on investment (ROI).

Part of steel’s affordability comes from its ease of use. Teams can measure, cut and assemble steel structures relatively quickly, keeping production and construction costs low. It’s also possible to prefabricate steel structures, which can be up to 25% cheaper than conventional, stick-built buildings, thanks to fewer errors and faster project timelines.

Because steel buildings are more durable, they may also be cheaper to insure. That gives you lower ongoing costs on top of reducing upfront expenses, leading to a faster ROI.


Steel’s insulation benefits are another reason it’s one of the best self-storage building materials. Running a successful storage facility means keeping tenants’ belongings safe from dramatic temperature and humidity fluctuations. Better insulation will also result in lower HVAC costs.

Metal can come in sheets more than 100 inches wide, letting you build walls, doors or roofs in relatively few pieces. Fewer joints, in turn, translate into less gaps that air and moisture can get into, making it easier to insulate these structures more effectively.

Unlike other materials, steel can also deliver high strength and durability while remaining thin. That balance between size and strength leaves more room for insulation without sacrificing interior space. As a result, you can offer more protection and energy efficiency while maximizing storage.

Minimal Upkeep

Another advantage of steel for self-storage facilities is that it requires minimal maintenance. This easier upkeep is more convenient for customers and reduces owners’ operating expenses.

Wood stains only last three to five years, so they need periodic treatment to protect them from environmental damage and insects. Similarly, masonry requires regular resealing to keep moisture out. Steel doesn’t carry these maintenance requirements, as it doesn’t warp, isn’t as porous and is more resistant to the elements.

Cleaning is the only regular upkeep steel structures need. As long as you periodically wash the building’s exterior to prevent mud and other foreign particle buildup, issues like weathering and corrosion won’t be an issue. Because steel is relatively nonporous, it’s also easier to clean, streamlining these already minimal maintenance steps.


Steel’s versatility also plays a role in its status as the best self-storage building material. Facilities must meet more specific niches to compete in an increasingly crowded market as the industry grows. Steel can meet a wide range of design and construction needs, making it ideal for this sector.

Steel is easy to paint, clean and repaint since it’s nonporous. That lets you adapt to changing styles to meet shifting aesthetic trends, maintaining curb appeal over time.

Similarly, because steel is affordable and easy to work with, you can quickly tear down, expand, or otherwise modify structures. The nation has built 253 million square feet of storage space in the past five years alone, and scalability is an important advantage in this market. Steel enables it.

Choose the Best Self-Storage Building Materials

It’s easy to see why steel is the self-storage building material of choice for most businesses. If you plan on capitalizing on this market, start with steel construction to give yourself a better chance of success.

Using the most cost-effective, accessible and long-lasting materials will help you achieve the best ROI in the self-storage industry. You can then meet America’s growing storage needs and remain competitive amid changing markets.

Follow Us