What Is A Pole Barn?

what are pole barn styles

If you have found yourself asking the question, “What is a pole barn” you are not alone. There are thousands with this same question. Pole barns seem to be popping up all over the place in the US, gaining more and more popularity. Pole barns are famed for their ease of construction as well as their price points. The buildings come in a variety of pole barn styles and serve many different purposes. In this article, we want to take a deeper look into pole barns, and what it is that makes them what they are. 

what is a pole barn

Why Do They Call It A Pole Barn?

what is a pole barn

The term pole barn started back in the Great Depression era as utility poles suddenly found themselves as pillars to construct farming buildings. With metal sheeting to form the roofs and steel sheeting for the sides, the term pole barn was coined. 

Today, the word pole barn is used in many different contexts. When talking about a pole barn, someone could be referring to;

What Is A Pole Barn House?

what is a pole barn

A pole barn house is also known as a barndominium. It is a less expensive way to construct a larger home. These “barndos,” as they have become affectionately known, are entirely liveable inside. In some cases, you may not be able to tell that much of a difference between a house and a barndominium. 

Pole barn homes come in various sizes but are always said to be less expensive than a traditional house. They are created the same way as pole barns. So barndos don’t require an in-ground foundation like homes do. You may not have realized that someone asking “what is a pole barn?” could be talking about a home!

What Is A Pole Barn Used For?

what is a pole barn garage

A pole barn can be used for a number of different purposes. The most common are;

  • Horse Barns – The run-ins are an excellent way for horses to find some shelter from the outdoor weather.
  • Equipment Storage – From personal to business, many people store their equipment in easy-to-put-up pole buildings. 
  • Garages – Keep your car in a beautiful pole barn garage. The structures can come detached or find their way onto your home as well.
  • Workshops – Keep up with your handyman projects, or create the perfect space for any hobby!
  • Homes – Barndominiums are an affordable way to get the space you want out of a home.
  • Offices – Pole Barn offices can help give you a place to focus! While these can be small in size, they are BIG in innovation. 
  • RV Storage – Whether personal or commercial, these storage facilities are an easy way to protect your monstrous motor carriage. 

Now you are beginning to see that when you ask “what is a pole barn,” there could actually be many different answers depending on how it is being utilized.

What Is The Difference Between A Barn And A Pole Barn?

The main difference between a barn and a pole barn is the foundation. Like a home, a timber frame barn adds time and labor because it needs that foundation. 

Surprisingly, the durability of the buildings is very similar. Most have given both of these buildings a timeline of one hundred years. Both buildings seem to stand the tests of time and weather most any storm. 

No matter what, pole barns will be cheaper than timber frame barns. The materials used will be less expensive and less in quantity as well. 

Are Pole Barns Durable?

Yes! If properly taken care of, pole barns can last 100 years. Given their lack of wood, they are naturally fire-resistant and can withstand high winds. While no one can ever predict whether or not a structure will survive a hurricane or tornado, pole barns are actually said to be good buildings to be in during both types of storms. 

Pole Barn vs Post Frame

what is a pole barn for business

“What is a pole barn?” vs. ” What is a post-frame building?” Are these buildings the same? Technically, yes. Post-frame building is actually the method of building pole barns. Today, Pole barns aren’t built using utility poles like in the 1930s. They can be built with poles of different shapes and in different styles. Check out our guide to pole barn framing here!

Pole Barn vs Stick Buildings

Stick buildings are generally assembled on-site with individual lumber pieces. These buildings will need the same foundation, which ends up costing the project more. Here are some other key differences between these two building styles.

  • Easier Building—Pole barns are constructed faster, which means they cost less and provide what you need sooner.
  • Energy Efficient – What is a pole barn’s energy efficiency? Pole barns actually allow for better insulation. There aren’t many breakpoints, and posts can be set up to be more energy-efficient than stick buildings. 
  • Durability – We mentioned this above, but pole barns are some of the most durable buildings in severe weather situations. 

What Are My Pole Barn Options?

what is a pole barn interior

There are five main options you can choose from when designing your new pole barn:

  • Siding—What is pole barn siding made of? While some contractors may differ, we offer 28-gauge steel panels for our pole barns. These are easy to install, meaning they will cut overall costs without sacrificing durability. 
  • Roofing—With pole barn roofs, you can adjust the overhang, height, pitch, and more! See pole barn roof options for more information!
  • Footer—The main decision you will want to make with your pole barn footer is whether you want the pressure-treated lumber touching the ground. See the foundation options below for more information!
  • Insulation—Insulating a pole barn is possible. Will you spend enough time on your pole building to make it a viable option?
  • Size – What is a pole barn’s proper size? That’s really up to you! Feel free to adjust your pole barn size and make it your own! How wide, tall, and long do you want your pole barn to be?

Pole Barn Foundation Options

what is a pole barn foundation

So, what is a pole barn foundation? Because pole barn foundations are a little bit different than that of typical structures, we should take a look at the three main options that you will have to consider.

  • Permacolumn Wet Set – The wood stays away from the ground because it is surrounded by concrete. 
  • Permacolumn Concrete Post – Here, the bottom portion of the post is coated in concrete, giving the same effect as the wet set above. 

Traditional Treated/Concrete Pad – Here, the wood does touch the ground and is solidified inside a concrete base below.

Pole Barn Roof Options

what is a pole barn for farming

Like the foundation options, there are three main choices you have for the roofing of your pole building. 

  • Gambrel Roof – This type of roof has slopes on each side and resembles a traditional barn roof. It provides good structure and maintains durability given this design. 
  • Gable Roof – This roof is made up of 2 parts that meet together to form a ridge. While the pitch can change, the fundamentals of the roof do not. 
  • Shed Roof – This roof is a single-plane roof generally reserved for small pole barns. It is simple and effective. 

So, what is a pole barn roof supposed to look like? You tell us! Submit a free quote to choose the design of your building.

Can You Insulate A Pole Barn?

what is pole barn insulation

Yes! It is pretty common to insulate pole barns. Insulating a pole barn is a good idea for habitation or any other reason. Since pole barns are energy-efficient, it will also cost less to maintain their temperature than a traditional building. 

For more information on insulating a pole barn, check out this video.


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What Are The Advantages Of A Pole Barn?

what are pole barn advantages
  • Price
  • Sizes
  • Styles
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Durability
  • Liveability

If you haven’t seen it by now…there are many advantages to choosing pole barns. No matter what you need out of your structure, let us help you figure out how a pole barn can be your solution! We can’t wait to hear from you!

Our Pole Barns

pole barn in lancaster pa

We have been in the pole barn business for over twenty years. So when people ask us, “What is a pole barn, anyway?” We have thousands of projects worth of answers for them. If you think a pole building may be right for you, feel free to contact us with any questions you may have. 

If you want to know more about the different types of pole barns, check out our pages on sheds, agricultural buildings, commercial barns, garages, and barndos!

Are you looking for pole barns in State College, PA, or pole barns in Columbia, PA? Check out our Areas We Serve Pages and see all the places we can build you a pole barn.