Some Common Myths About Pole Barn Constructions Set Straight

Using our 30 years of experience in constructing nothing but pole barns we've put together the top eight misconceptions we hear about pole barn construction.

Myth #1

"A pole barn/building is good for unheated storage, but not a shop, because you can't heat them."

Fact

Post frame (pole barn) buildings are easier to insulate well than other types of construction, and thus are very effective as a climate controlled building. Because the posts are 8' on center, you have large, unbroken areas to insulate, with fewer 'thermal breaks' where the insulation is interrupted by a framing member. Using post frame methods, you can easily insulate to R-19 in the walls, and R-30 or more in the ceiling. Steel frame buildings are notoriously difficult to insulate well, and concrete block is hard to insulate as well. A stick frame building has a stud every 16" or 24", so there are many breaks in the insulation.

Myth #2

"Post Frame construction lacks the ability to put in things like insulation, wiring, drywall, or other amenities you may wish to add."

Fact

Actually, Post Frame is a much more adaptable building method than either steel frame buildings, or concrete block buildings. It is easy to add doors, interior walls, windows, wiring, plumbing, etc.

Myth #3 

"Pole Barns cannot be partitioned. In other words, you can't have one part horse barn and one part machinery shed."

Fact

Not true. Some inexperienced post frame builders will tell customers this, but with AJB, you can partition out the building any way you like, with readily available framing lumber. But with steel frame buildings, you can't just nail in a 2x4 to the steel frame. You need special fasteners and components, which may be difficult to find. Some of the same challenges exist with concrete block.


Myth #4

Pole barns won't hold up to the wind as well as other buildings."

Fact

Yes. A poorly constructed pole barn will rattle and make a racket during windstorms, however, properly built post frame buildings perform incredibly well in high wind areas. The best advice is to select a real specialist in pole buildings who has years of experience in all aspects of construction - including how to construct your building to withstand wind without a noise.


Myth #5

"Pole Barns are much noisier on the inside when it rains."

Fact

It can be a bit noisy when it rains on the metal roof. You can solve this by using an insulation/vapor barrier. To prove this, try this experiment: take a piece of tin and hit it with a hammer - it makes a ringing sound. But as soon as you hold the palm of your hand on it, the ringing stops. That is how the insulation works, it stops the vibration. A shingle roof also works the same way. During consultations or even quick phone calls, the team can go over all the different options you have to prevent too much noise.


Myth #6 

"Having roof trusses 48" apart doesn't work well to install an interior ceiling."

Fact

This can be a challenge with post frame construction, since the trusses are generally spaced at 8'-9' on center, instead of 24" or 16". For utility buildings, the best option is often to use a ceiling material that spans the 4' centers, such as our very popular steel liner panel. Another option would be to use OSB or plywood. These materials (especially our painted steel liner panel) are much more durable than sheetrock, for use in utility or storage buildings. If sheetrock is desirable in your application, we recommend running 2x4's laterally across the bottom of the trusses 2' apart. This provides substantial support for a sheetrock ceiling. Much of this is also true for the interior walls, if they need to be finished. Installing lateral 2x4's at 2' on center on the inside of the posts gives you the framing you need to install wood, steel, or sheetrock interior finish.


Myth #7

"One outstanding benefit of a steel-framed building over a pole barn is that it will not rot. Steel is non-organic, ages very slowly, and is dimensionally stable."

Fact

Steel framing is good for some applications, for example when you need more than 100' clear span. Some of the challenges with steel are that it can rust or corrode if not properly protected. It is quite expensive compared to wood; wood is a strong, readily available material. It is economical, and is an organic, renewable resource. Due to advances made in wood treatment and protection technology, there is little risk of wood rotting in the ground. Wood is also more flexible, and performs better in high winds, such as hurricanes. The design of a pole barn allows it to 'give' slightly in high winds, springing back into shape, rather than just bending or collapsing.
 

Myth #8

"Wood frame buildings like pole barns aren't as fire resistant as other types of buildings."

Fact

When structural steel heats to failure point, it fails catastrophically... In a fire, wood trusses have to char and burn through before they fail, and then it is a smaller, more localized failure, allowing time to remove equipment, vehicles, or animals. We saw this again recently when a customers truck ignited and started a fire in his pole barn. However, he was able to remove his other trucks and valuables in time, and we can quickly repair the roof of the pole barn.