Static meshes and BSP visibility

I want to make a building which is covered with corrugated metal. I tried using a bump map texture, but it didn’t really look right up close. So I was thinking about trying to skin the building with a static mesh. But I’m not sure that static meshes behave the same as brushes when it comes to doing vis on the level. Anyone have some insight on this?

No, static meshes and BSP do not behave the same, and you can do more with static meshes than with BSP. Also BSP is not great for final production work anyway, it is typically only used to quickly block out levels, then you go back and replace it with SM.

With a static mesh, you can use polygons to create an actual surface for the building if you want. This will give the highest quality result, and I’ll bet it could be achieved with not too many polys if you know how to use 3d modelling software.

If that’s not an option, try to get a high-quality texture set including diffuse / normal / specular maps so that you get the texture looking as good as possible. Here is one for sale for about $8 that I found:

Corrugated metal texture by Textures R Us

Get the shader right and high-quality texture sets can work wonders.

I know static meshes are far more flexible than brushes. But my question is whether static meshes are considered in the vis calculations. In other words, do static meshes behave like the old detail brushes did?