Pole Barn vs Metal Building, Which Kit is the Best Choice for You?

For many legacy farmers, the pole barn on their property is a symbol of their family history. But as the farmers of earlier eras opted for more innovative farming equipment, the industrial leaders of today are choosing more innovative building structures, including steel buildings.

Be aware, however, that the materials you select to build your pole barn are the key to its many benefits, which may lead you to pursue different avenues.

Typically, pole barns are made from wood, and that means they are inherently vulnerable to moisture damage, rot, pests, fire and other threats.

For this reason, we recommend building a pole barn-type structure out of more durable products such as steel or metal, or skipping the pole barn idea all together and opting for an affordable metal barn instead.

Pole Barn Construction

  • Primary framing anchored in soil
  • Perimeter wood poles set up to 96″ apart
  • Can be up to 120′ wide without posts

Steel building Construction

  • Primary framing anchored with bolts in concrete
  • Columns can be up to 30′ apart
  • Can be up to 300′ wide column free

Expansive Soils and Pole Barns

Since the primary framing of pole barns is set in the soil rather than on top of a concrete pad or pier, the pole barn structure is subject to movement. Soil conditions can change quickly, which makes this aspect of pole barn designs especially inconsistent and even potentially dangerous.

As the ground shifts, the wooden poles are liable to move, which is likely to compromise the structural integrity of your building. If you live in an area with even minor expansive soil, a prefab metal building may be the better choice for your project.

Steel Building vs Pole Barn Price

Steel Building Price

30×50$13,000-$16,000
40×60$22,000-$25,000
50×100$35,000-$40,000

Pole Barn Price

30×50 $25,000-$30,000
40×60 $35,000-$42,000
50×100 $65,000-$75,000
CombustibleDecayPests
Higher Insurance and More Risk

Pole barns are susceptible to fire damage, which can be dangerous for building users as well as animals housed in the building. More than 200 horses every year are reported dead due to barn fires, according to the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture. The dangers that come with the wooden structures also contribute to higher insurance costs.

Wood Rot

Pole barn construction often lacks the precision of steel construction, leaving gaps and holes in the structure over time. These holes can lead to leaks, which kickstart the process of rot and decay. Wood is extremely vulnerable and offers the right combination of moisture, temperature and oxygen to produce destructive fungi that can leave your building exposed and defenseless to extreme weather.

Especially in the Southeast and Northwest

Raccoons, possums, mice, rats and termites pose a serious threat to the quality of your building, and more importantly, the animals that are housed there. These pests are capable of gnawing through wood pole barns, which not only causes structural deficiencies, but also gives them access to your livestock’s feed supply.

Perceived Value

Pole barn designs were celebrated in the 1930s because they were affordable and relatively easy to construct. Those same principles are still promoted by pole barn manufacturers, but it’s increasingly obvious that their time has passed.

While the wood structures are sometimes the less expensive than a custom designed metal building, their low cost quickly balloons once maintenance and repair are factored in. Click below to review a few additional advantages that pre engineered steel buildings have over traditional pole barn construction.

Source; General Steel Building

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