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The Impact of Self-Storage Building Materials: Creating Harmony Between Aesthetics, Function and Cost


By Ryan Rogers

The materials chosen to construct a new self-storage facility impact a number of project components and forces. These forces are woven together similar to the threads of a spider web—when one thread is pulled, the rest will move. Successfully weaving the web of materials into the greater whole of the building is what creates a beautiful, well-performing and cost-effective project.

While materiality can be waxed on poetically, I’ll distill it to three factors: aesthetics, function and cost. When these work in harmony, they produce lasting beauty and building longevity.


The aesthetic quality of your components impacts many of the building’s users. New construction and additions have the opportunity to attract new customers with beautiful buildings comprised of a wide variety of materials. Understanding the psychological impact of these choices will allow you to tailor your project to the neighborhood it serves.

Using ground-face and split-face concrete masonry unit creates articulation and dynamism at nominal cost.For example, masonry creates a paradigm of soundness and longevity for the customer, and may even impart a feeling of safety and security. Metal wall panels, which are also popular, are available in an array of forms—corrugated or smooth, with concealed or exposed fasteners, etc. The calculated use of smooth, concealed-fastener panels harkens to contemporary design styles with an eye toward the future. This can create the perception of innovation and dynamism, communicating to customers that your facility is on the cutting edge of the industry and, as such, a successful leader.

Corrugated, exposed metal panels create the sensation of gritty economy where beauty is found in the honest simplicity of the panel, which can evoke a perception of the same. These are just a few of the many materials developers are adding to their projects to create unique and attractive structures.


While the aesthetic quality of materials can impact customers, functionality is equally important. Functionality is a broad term that covers performance abilities, maintenance characteristics, wearability and code compliance. It’s important to choose materials that will provide minimal maintenance and have a long life span.

Masonry is a robust material that resists damage and lasts decades. However, if it’s used at loading locations or near drive-up doors, it’s susceptible to being hit by vehicles and can be expensive to repair; whereas metal wall panels will last for decades and can be easily replaced if damaged.

As more cities adopt the most current energy codes, the efficiency of using load-bearing masonry in temperature-controlled buildings is negated due to the requirement for continuous insulation. If you’re building in a jurisdiction applying the latest codes, a veneer system will be preferable over load-bearing masonry due to greater cost-efficiency and available floor area (because of thinner walls).

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