Wooden Pole Barn vs Steel Building System: Is One Better Than the Other?

If you’ve spent any time on a farm or ranch, you most likely are familiar with barns, steel buildings, and other outdoor structures that are used to store machinery, equipment, and other supplies. Wood pole barns have been around since the very early 1900s and are still in use today. However, steel pole barn systems are newer, and because they can withstand the elements, are becoming more popular.

But since they both store the same thing, what exactly are the differences between a wooden pole barn and a steel building? Does one have an advantage over the other? To help answer these questions, we’ve put together a side-by-side comparison of wooden pole barns and steel buildings.

What Is a Wood Pole Barn?

Wooden pole barns are a common sight in rural areas, and for good reason. They are easy to construct and provide ample storage space for agricultural equipment and other materials. The process of building a pole barn typically begins with setting the wooden beams into the ground. These beams serve as the foundation of the structure and support its weight. Once the beams are in place, the walls and roof of the barn are built on top of them.

This design makes pole barns very sturdy and resistant to strong winds and heavy snowfall. And because they do not require a concrete foundation, pole barns are also much more cost-effective than traditional barns. So whether you’re looking for a place to store your tractor or simply seeking some shelter from the elements, a pole barn is an excellent choice.

What Is a Structural Steel Building?

Steel buildings are a type of building that uses steel instead of wood for the beams and support structures. Steel is a strong and durable material that can support a lot of weight, making it ideal for use in buildings. Metal buildings are also resistant to weather and pests, making them a good choice for storing machinery and other equipment.

These buildings are becoming more popular because of their many benefits, but they are also more expensive than other types of buildings. If you are considering a steel building for your home or business, be sure to compare all your options before making a final decision.

The Pros and Cons of Structural Steel Buildings and Pole Barns

When looking into which type of building is best for your property, you’ll need to take into consideration the process of constructing the building and the durability and longevity of the building, as well as a few other key factors such as cost and maintenance. Let’s look at the differences between these.

Construction of the Building

Pole barns are framed with wooden poles set up 8 feet apart. The frame is anchored into the soil around the barn, and the floor of the barn is usually dirt. This anchoring acts as the main support for the barn, and while it’s anchored several feet into the ground, it can be blown down when strong winds come up.

Steel frame buildings use high-grade steel for the frames and have a concrete foundation instead of a dirt floor. The steel frame consists of columns spread 20 feet apart with rafter beams attached for additional strength. The columns are anchored directly into the concrete instead of the dirt. These metal buildings tend to stand up to the winds better than pole barns.

Durability and Longevity of the Building

Because pole barns are traditionally built with wood, they are highly susceptible to damage from the elements, such as rotting, mold, and other moisture-related damage. They are also at a higher risk of fires and lightning destruction in bad weather. Termites can also be a real concern with wood buildings. On average, pole barns last around 20 years with regular maintenance and care.

High-grade steel, on the other hand, is one of the earth’s most weather-resistant materials. You don’t have to worry about rotting, mold, termites or lightning strikes with a metal building, and if there ever is a fire, the building is rarely a complete loss.

You will need to keep your eyes open for the occasional bout of rust or water leak from the roof, but if your metal building is well constructed, this is often not a worry. Steel barns tend to last anywhere from 60 to 100 years, depending on the care of the building.

Maintenance of the building

Wooden barns require regular maintenance and repairs. They must stay weather-proofed, and you will need to replace boards regularly as they rot. Every year for the life of the building, you will need to have maintenance done to keep it in tip-top shape to protect your equipment inside.

Our agricultural metal building kits require almost no maintenance. A quick check for leaks every once in a while, and you are good to go.

Cost Comparison Between Buildings

The cost of a pole barn is going to be less than the cost of a steel frame building. The material for a pole barn is going to be cheaper, and the construction will be less labor-intensive. However, you need to factor in the repairs and maintenance that will need to be done over the years. In the long run, a steel frame building will likely be the cheaper option.

Once you start looking at maintenance, repairs, and weathering, the pole barn cost starts adding up. Also, look at the fact that pole barns need to be replaced approximately every 20 years (you’ll need at least 3 pole barns during the life of a steel barn).

Plus, when we add in the insurance on a building, pole barns are considered much riskier because they are more susceptible to damage. Steel building kits can save you up to 25% on your insurance bill. In the long run, a metal building design is much more cost-effective than a wooden pole barn.

Which Building Structure Is Right For You?

Only you can answer that question. If you’re looking for longevity and low maintenance, then a steel building system is the way you want to go. If you like the unique, historical look, a wooden pole barn could be your next building project. But remember, you’ll need to have time and a budget set aside for constant repairs.

If you’re in the market for a structural steel building, reach out to us at Maverick Steel Buildings. We supply a wide range of high-quality metal barns for all of your agricultural needs. We can answer your questions and get you started on the path to your next minimum-maintenance building. Get your quote today!