Are Metal Buildings Safe From Lightning?

So you’re worried about a metal building getting hit by lightning? Don’t worry, we’ve all been there. I’ve got GOOD news and GREAT news…

Here’s the deal:
Long story short, lightning is not actually attracted to anything specifically. Lightning can strike anything. This is the GOOD news. Lightning occurs on too large of a scale to be influenced by small objects on the ground, including metal objects. The common myth is that metal buildings are more prone to lightning strikes than any other type of structure. In other words, metal buildings or metal roofs are basically lightning magnets. Makes sense, right?


There are a ton of other crazy myths along the lines of:

  • Being safe outside as long as you’re not wearing (metal) jewelry.
  • Wearing metal cleats or having something with metal on you is prone to get struck.

But you’re thinking:

Yeah, but what is lightning really attracted to?
Most of us know that when you see lightning and count how many seconds are between the light and the big crash, are the approximate amount of miles you are to the storm.

So, instead of worrying about lightning having it in for you or your building…

Here’s what you need to knowLightning does not care about the small amount of metal that you may have on or be carrying around.

It cares about what is higher off of the ground.

What happens when lightning strikes metal?
On the slight chance that a steel building or roof is struck by lightning, it is less likely to result in a fire than other types of roofing materialsThis is because the grounding of the building creates a more secure way for the lightning to travel. Take this extra precautions and increase your safety (This is the GREAT news.) Since metal buildings are not being singled out from being prone to lightning, you can take extra precautions to make sure you and your steel building(s) are safe.

The Metal Construction Association breaks this situation into 2 parts:

  1. The probability of lightning hitting your home or building
  2. What actually happens when lightning strikes

Steel is not a lightning magnet. But you can deter the lightning if it does happen to strike your home or building. A metal building and roof will survive a lightning strike with less damage.

Should a metal roof or building be grounded?

Our answer would be a definite yesThe rod is simply another piece of metal if it is not grounded, meaning, there is no point of having the rod prevent the lightning strike without having it grounded into the earth.

Now we’re taking a few extra preventative measures:

  1.  A lightning rod
  2. Concrete foundation
  3. Grounding.

Should you be concerned about getting a metal building or metal roof on your home? Not at all. Steel roofs will, in fact, be less dangerous when they are struck by lightning even without a lightning rod. Yes, you read that right, less dangerous!

For metal building construction, repair, or renovation contact us for free quote.