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So What’s the Difference between Pole Barns and Steel Barns?

Part 1: Defining Pole Barns and Pre-engineered Metal Barns

Perplexed about pole barns vs. steel buildings and what the advantages of steel buildings are? Let’s start with the basics by defining each type of structure.

Two photos compare wood pole barn framing to steel barn framingThis article is the first in a eight-part series exploring these two building systems, comparing the short-term and long-term differences.

So what exactly is a “Pole Barn”?

Although there may be small variations from source to source, most pole barns are similar in framing.

Typically, pole buildings use chemically-treated wood beams, actually “posts,” for the main framing supports. These beams are usually buried in the ground 3’ to 6’ deep. The beams are normally spaced 8’ apart.

Wooden roof trusses attach to the posts. Lateral boards connect the beams horizontally on the outside of the posts. Lightweight sheets of corrugated metal cladding fasten over the lateral wood framing and to the roof trusses.

Although sometimes a concrete floor is added, pole barns most often have plain dirt floors.

So what is a meant by a “Steel Barn”?

Pre-engineered metal barns and other structures use rigid-frame red-iron steel columns.

Typically, two steel rafter beams attach to two steel columns to form one “frame.” Depending on the building codes required, the frames are spaced 20’ to 25’ apart.

Lateral steel pieces called “girts” fasten horizontally across the outside of the “frames,” forming part of the secondary framing. Fixed across the roof trusses, steel components termed “purlins” span the distance from frame to frame, completing the secondary framing.

One of the advantages of these buildings is that they offer heavy-duty exterior coated steel panels that can fasten to the roof purlins and wall girts to enclose the building envelope.

Although steel barns and other pre-engineered metal buildings generally erect on concrete slabs, there are other options.

Dirt floor or concrete foundation?

Why would a customer want a dirt floor? An indoor riding center or covered equestrian pavilion requires soft dirt for horseback riding. Some agricultural applications, such as equipment storage shelters or hay sheds do not require concrete floors, so the customer may opt to use a dirt floor to save on foundation costs.

If a dirt floor is preferred, concrete piers can be poured. Each steel column bolts to a corresponding “footing.”

Another option would be to pour a concrete perimeter wall to support the exterior steel walls, leaving the center of the building covered in dirt. (The metal barn package includes perimeter steel beams for structures not erected on slab foundations.)

RHINO Steel Barns and other Metal Buildings

People who build wood pole barns tend to focus only on the here and now. Pole barns are considered temporary structures at best. They often require extensive (and expensive) upkeep, and have a very limited lifecycle.

Steel barns and metal buildings add beauty and value to your property. Some advantages of steel buildings include the fact that they are low-maintenance, durable, and more cost-effective when compared to pole barns. RHINO’s high-quality prefabricated metal barns and steel buildings will out-perform and out-last wood pole barns every time.

Please call RHINO Steel Building Systems today to learn about pole barns vs. steel buildings. Our friendly and knowledgeable steel building specialists can answer every question you have about pole barns vs. metal barns. Get the whole picture— and a free quote— before you buy.

Call to learn about the advantages of steel buildings: 940.383.9566.