What’s the Difference Between a Pole Barn and a Metal Building?

When shopping for a building to use as a garage, storage area, shop, agricultural building, commercial space or something else, you may hear the terms “pole barn” and “metal building” used interchangeably. In reality, there are some important distinctions that exist between the two types of structures, so recognizing what these differences are should help you determine whether one type might better suit your needs.

Metal Building Erection
Pole Barn

Pole Barns

For generations, farmers, ranchers and other with similar interests have used pole barns to house farm equipment, animals and other assets. These structures often have dirt floors and wooden trusses or “poles” dug deep into the ground that support the walls and roof, and then the walls, themselves, are often comprised of metal.

Metal Buildings

Metal buildings, on the other hand, are comprised exclusively from steel, meaning the walls, roof and supporting members are all made from metal. Prefabricated metal buildings arrive partially assembled to streamline the erection process, and they are available with broad clear spans that maximize usable floor space by eliminating interior columns or supports.

Key Differences 

Pole barns and metal building differ in several fundamental ways. In addition to steel buildings having foundations while pole barns do not, steel buildings also feature rigid frames, which are more durable and structurally sound than those found in pole barns.

The two building types also differ considerably when it comes to maintenance. Any wood structure requires maintenance over time to address decay, warping, rotting or mold issues, and pole barns are no exception. Termites, fire and other potential construction hazards may also wreak havoc on pole barns over time, and these structures are also more costly to insure.

Metal buildings, on the other hand, are easier and cheaper to maintain than pole barns. Termite-, damage- and fire-resistant, these buildings maintain their strength and functionality through the years despite moisture, extreme weather or heavy usage.

If you are on the hunt for a structurally sound, easy-to-maintain building, a pre-engineered metal building is the obvious choice.