All You Need To Know About Designing The Perfect Pole Barn
Pole frame construction isn’t exactly a new innovation. In the early days, it was a process involving long poles made from tree trunks placed into the ground. The remainder of the structure was then built around those poles. Today, there’s a little more science behind how pole buildings are created, along with some extra steps in the construction process.
In some ways, the process of putting up a pole structure is even easier these days thanks to the cost-effective and time-saving pole barn kits and custom pole barns with multiple design options available. Yet the main benefits of this type of construction remain similar.
Art & Science of Designing A Pole Building
Designing the perfect pole building structure can be overwhelming. Here are some great tips to keep in mind in the planning stages.
With pole barns, holes are dug into soil and poles are inserted into the shallow holes. As for the type of soil that’s used, there are three inorganic components of soil that can affect pole embedment depth and soil bearing capacity: sand, silt, and clay. Generally, pole buildings tend to do better when placed in gravelly and sandy types of soil.
Proper Building Footing
There must be proper footing in place to provide the necessary stability and support for pole structures. After holes are dug below the frost line, footing that consists of concrete or resin is placed in those holes to secure the posts. Concrete collars or rebar rods are also attached near the bottom to keep the posts from rising. Compacted dirt and concrete are then placed into the holes to stabilize all posts. Footing diameter will vary based on the size of the building.
Snow Loads/Header Size of Pole Structure
During winter, pole structures can safely support their designated snow load. Specifically, “snow load” refers to one cubic foot of snow or about 10-15 pounds. A region’s average snowfall is used to determine the snow load a barn’s roof should be designed to support. Check with your local municipality to get building code information that includes snow load information. When reinforcing a pole building for snow, pay particular attention to trusses and truss carriers, posts, and footers. Your snow load calculations will also determine your header size. Be sure to add snow guards can which offer additional protection against snow accumulation.
Pole garages or barns typically have a concrete floor to provide a better working surface and to help keep things neat and tidy. To avoid knocking out the plumb if only columns are in place, special precautions need to be taken when adding a concrete floor to a pole barn or garage. The industry standard with floors for a typical pole structure is about 4-inches thick. Floors can be thicker, however, if you’ll be using your building to store heavy equipment. A floor drain running to the exterior of the building can help with water run-off or melting snow.
Perma-Column vs. Laminated Posts vs. Solid Wood Posts
Pole barn kits can be constructed with posts made from different materials. The most common options are Perma columns, laminated posts, and solid wood posts. Perma columns are five-foot precast concrete columns. They’re designed to keep wood out of the ground, which eliminates the need to worry about issues with rot. However, tests have shown that properly treated solid wood posts can be durable enough to last for decades. The appeal of laminated posts is that they mimic wood yet they’re less susceptible to warping and bending. Laminate can also be more budget-pleasing.
You’ll get more value and comfort out of your pole structure investment with the right type of insulation. One or two-inch insulation can be included on the building’s exterior. Thicker insulation applied under the steel can up your R-value. This can be beneficial if you’ll be using your building will be directly exposed to the elements or located in an area where temperatures can fluctuate greatly throughout the year.
Because of its light weight and lower cost, fiberglass is the most common material used for insulation. Reflective bubble insulation can also work well for metal buildings. Plus, it has a high R-value, which means more long-term savings potential. Your pole building’s insulation needs will depend on how it’s going to be used. Buildings used for animal confinement, for instance, often don’t need wall insulation. With insulation, also consider:
- How much condensation control you’ll need
- Whether or not you plan to heat or cool your building
- What type of natural ventilation you’ll have
Trusses are attached to the top of posts by attaching them to a notch cut in the top or directly to the sides. In order to make the structure sturdy and solid, roof sheathing is attached to the building’s trusses. An attic truss can be designed for use as a storage space. Common or traditional trusses are used for standard roofs. If your roof will have a one-direction slant, mono trusses will be needed. Cathedral trusses, on the other hand, have two opposing rafters plus a ceiling joist.
The truss span, height, and location of large openings will determine what type of bracing is sufficient. Lateral bracing is a type of continuous bracing on the truss bottom chord. Web bracing is required for taller trusses. Corner braces are equally critical for taller structures. Knee braces connect to and extend from the sidewall columns to supplement the lateral resistance of post frames. Knee braces can also provide added support before the installation of roofing and siding. Wye bracing can provide similar support.
Siding and Metal Gauges
The preferred siding with most pole structures is ribbed metal steel. It’s a durable, cost-effective type of siding that can be installed on both residential and commercial pole structures. With metal siding, 22-gauge is the thickest option that’s usually recommended and 29-gauge is the thinnest. This also applies to metal roof and wall panels. Thicker gauges generally work better for pole buildings because of a lack structural sheathing. Thicker gauge metal also means fewer supports will be needed, which provide added savings.
Doors, Windows, and Skylights
Pole structures offer just as much variety with doors and windows. With garages, you can go with a single garage door and separate side entrance. Pole-style barns can have a single or double door. Windows can also be placed on either side of the door or only where desired. Matching skylight panels can make it easier to take advantage of natural light.
Cupolas are more than just aesthetically pleasing additions to the top of pole barns. They can also be an added source of ventilation, which can help keep your barn cool during the warmer months. Adding a vented ridge and soffit vent can also help increase ventilation and keep airflow and moisture at the right levels.
After pole barn garage kits are set up, proper maintenance can increase your odds of enjoying your investment for many years. While small dings and minor damage may not seem like a big deal, being proactive with maintenance can add up to substantial savings. Keep the following tips in mind if you’re the owner of a pole structure:
- Visually inspect the interior for leaks following a storm, especially one with heavy rains or high winds
- Check the siding periodically for dents and other cosmetic damage that should be addressed sooner rather than later
- Keep heavy snow and other debris off the building’s roof
- Inspect doors and windows now and then for signs of wear or damage
- Secure the barn or garage in advance of a severe storm
Pole Barn Supplier
Now that you know more about the art and science behind the design of pole buildings, explore all the possibilities of pole barn and pole barn garage kits from New Holland Supply. Our experts are ready to help you design the pole barn of your dreams!
Contact us today to learn more about our custom pole barns.