Custom shelter collapse

Custom Shelter Buyer Beware: Top 5 Advantages of Between Slip Tube Structures

When you buy a Slip Tube custom shelter, you’re getting a structure that’s up to national building standards. We have many competitors and imitators, but buyer beware: what may look like a good deal on paper can be a recipe for disaster, especially when you’re installing your portable shelter in an extreme climate, like those found in Northern BC.

Even domestic suppliers of temporary sheds and shelters may not be using domestic steel in their manufacturing process, which is a huge source of problems when it comes to long-term durability.

Here are a few key differences to watch out for when purchasing a custom shelter.

Custom Shelter Package Weight

When you’re comparing a Slip Tube custom shelter to a competitor shelter, they might look very similar. The steel tubes might be the same diameter. The key, however, is in the weight of the steel.

A lot of shelters manufactured overseas are made with steel tubing of the same diameter as our own products. From the outside, they appear identical, but in fact, the overseas product is made with a higher gauge of steel. The competitor steel has thinner interior walls, and weighs less.

If you’re shopping around and comparing our shelters to a competitor’s, our advice is to compare the weight of the packages. In most cases, a package from an overseas supplier will weigh significantly less than one from Slip Tube, due to the thinner, and by extension, weaker steel.

When we manufacture our sheds at Slip Tube, our in-house engineer gets specs directly from the steel mill, with information about the tensile strength and breaking points of all the materials. Our manufacturing department can then design a shed to fit your dimensions that will stand the test of time – and weather.

Even with identical wall thickness and diameter, not all steel is created equal. We often see sheds with steel manufactured overseas collapsing under snow and rain loads due to the steel mix and level of quality control. When it comes to long-lasting strength and quality, domestic steel is really the way to go.

Beware of local competitors who say they’re using domestic products – many are simply importing overseas materials and repackaging them. At Slip Tube, we use ONLY North American steel in our custom sheds, shelters, and greenhouses.

custom shelter collapsed under snow

Availability of Engineering Specs

Good quality materials are just one part of the puzzle. A custom shelter also needs to be designed and built to withstand the challenges of harsh climates and inclement weather.

In many cases with overseas products, you’ll find a disclaimer right on the box that says that the shed or shelter “may not be engineered for your climate”. Large mass-production facilities that sell to distributors generally don’t know where their products are going to end up. A portable shelter that could work fine in a milder climate may last only a year or two in the colder and windier conditions of Canada and the northern United States.

We’ve seen cases where customers purchased a cheap custom shelter from an overseas distributor, and then installed it up in Whistler or even further north, only to have the whole structure collapse after the first significant snowfall of the year.

In addition, if you’re looking to apply for a permit to keep a large greenhouse or other facility, you need to submit engineer-stamped drawings. These often aren’t available with mass-produced overseas structures, so you’ll have a hard time getting the permits you need for your operation.

At Slip Tube, we have an in-house engineer who looks at steel specs right from the mill and lets our manufacturers know exactly how closely-spaced arches have to be to meet national building standards. Just like with climate suitability, many times overseas products will say right on the package that engineer-stamped drawings are not available. This can lead to insurance losses when the structure eventually collapses and no one can be held liable. We’ve seen this happen a lot, particularly in the last year with the extreme weather we’ve experienced across British Columbia.

Custom Shelter Cover Quality

It’s not just about the steel, either. In many cases, competitor’s covers are simply not up to snuff when compared to Slip Tube quality.

What often happens is that customers see that a competitor is using 20-gauge vinyl, while we only use 18-gauge. But thickness isn’t everything. An 18-gauge vinyl works great for outdoor shelters, when combined with the right UV treatment and a well-designed tie-down system. Competitors will often try to impress with the use of 20-gauge vinyl, but skimp on UV treatment. This can lead to quick degradation, warping, and cracking when the shelter is subjected to summer sun.

In addition, we often see tie-down systems on competitor products that just don’t provide the right amount of tension in the right places, leading to wrinkles or loose flaps that can catch the wind. When wind gets severe or storms happen, covers that aren’t properly secured can fly right off, sometimes taking parts of the shelter with them.

Our covers often account for about a quarter of the cost of the whole building, but keep in mind – you’re likely getting 12 to 15 years of solid use out of them. A cheap overseas cover might seem like a deal at first, but that’s not the case if you have to pay to replace it every two years.

Type of Steel Coating

With overseas products, you’ll often find sheds built with galvanized steel tubing. Galvanizing is an important step to help the steel survive the elements. The problem arises when manufacturers use a process known as hot-dip galvanization. This type of galvanization tends to leave a slightly abrasive film on the surface of the steel, which can wear down the vinyl covers over time.

This is especially true if, as in the previous point, the vinyl cover is not tied down securely. Wind can cause constant motion, which effectively sands down the vinyl. We see covers degrade after just a couple years on structures like this, which turns into a pretty hefty maintenance cost. Our Slip Tube structures, on the other hand, use steel lacquered with layers of smooth coating, so there’s no abrasive surface. Our custom shelters can last 15 years with minimal maintenance and no replacement parts.

A collapsed custom shelter in the snow

Installation and Safety Issues with Custom Shelters

There’s no way around it – a shelter made with inferior materials is a safety risk.

We’ve seen shelters collapse with vehicles and equipment in them, and we’ve seen the damage that a collapse causes. A poorly-constructed shelter can collapse at any time, and if anyone is inside it there is absolutely a risk of serious injury or death.

One big advantage that we offer over competitors is that we’re local, and we have an experienced team that we can send out to perform installations and maintenance. With overseas products, there are no experts readily available to help with repairs. Without service crews that really know the product, you’re setting yourself up for a potentially dangerous situation. When you’re unable to verify the strength of the welding, or the steel, then you may not be able to tell there’s a problem until something goes wrong.

No matter what you need a custom shed or shelter for, it’s just good business to invest in a quality product that you know you can rely on. If you’re in the market for a shed, or have an overseas product that you need replaced, contact us today. We can provide you with an up-to-date quote and get you the service you need.