Comprehensive Guide for Pole Barn Framing

Pole barn framing, also known as post-frame construction, has emerged as a preferred choice for many builders and homeowners. This section offers a complete guide to understanding pole barn framing, from its historical roots to its modern applications and from the necessary components to the cost implications.

A pole barn with grassy field.

Historical Roots of Pole Barn Framing

Pole barns have a rich history dating back several decades. Originating in the rural United States, early pole barns often utilized utility poles or round poles for their structural framework. Initially used for agricultural purposes, the simplicity of these structures made them cost-effective and easy to build.

How Does Pole Barn Framing Work?

Pole barn framing involves anchoring large posts or poles into the ground or onto a foundation for vertical support. Roof trusses are then attached directly to these posts, providing the primary roof structure. Walls, made up of girts, are fastened directly to the posts, providing lateral support. This design results in a wide-open interior space that can be easily customized for a variety of uses.

A huge red walled pole barn.

Benefits of Pole Barn Framing


One of the most attractive advantages of pole barn construction is its cost-effectiveness. Compared to other buildings, the materials are relatively inexpensive, and the building process is typically faster.

Structural Stability

The foundation of post-frame construction uses poles, or round poles, embedded in the ground to provide excellent stability, capable of withstanding extreme weather conditions.

More Space

With pole barns, the absence of interior walls means you can utilize more space, ideal for storage or commercial use. This open concept design adds flexibility to your building’s function.

Easy to Insulate

House wrap and insulation can be attached directly to the roof system and walls, allowing for better thermal efficiency compared to traditional buildings.

Components of Pole Barn Framing

Foundation / Footing

The foundation serves as the structural base in any pole barn construction project. Local building codes often prescribe the type of foundation required, whether it be a concrete footing or a crushed stone base. The choice between the two depends on various factors such as the soil conditions, the load-bearing capacity required, and the intended use of the building.

Wall Girts

Wall girts are horizontal boards fastened between the vertical posts to provide lateral support for the walls. Some designs feature “bookshelf girts,” which offer additional support and make it easier to attach interior walls.


Posts, often made from rounded poles or dimensional lumber, serve as the vertical support structure in pole barn construction. These posts are usually embedded deep into the ground, offering robust structural stability.

Roof Trusses

Roof trusses form the primary framework that supports the roofing material. Typically made of wood for its natural flexibility and strength, steel trusses are also available for added durability.

Joist Hangers and Truss Carriers

Joist hangers and truss carriers are metal components used to secure the roof trusses to the posts. They play a critical role in maintaining the stability and integrity of the roof structure.


Fasteners like nails, screws, and bolts are used to secure various structural components such as trusses, girts, and purlins to the posts. The quality of these fasteners is crucial for the overall stability of the building.

Skirt Board and Splash Board

Skirt boards and splash boards are installed at the base of the walls to direct water away from the building. Usually made from treated lumber, these components are essential for effective moisture management.


Siding serves as the building’s exterior shell, protecting it against weather elements. Materials can vary, from wood and vinyl to metal, and these sidings are usually attached directly to the wall girts.


The roofing material, which can range from asphalt shingles to metal sheets or clay tiles, is laid over a supportive structure made of roof purlins and trusses. Roof purlins are usually laid horizontally across the trusses to provide a secure base for attaching the roofing material.

Constructing wooden pole barn.

Components of Pole Barn Framing

The cost of building a pole barn varies depending on factors like size, location, and materials. Here are some components that could affect your budget:

  • Foundation
    Depending on local building codes, your foundation might require concrete footings or a crushed stone base. Some opt for gravel for cost-efficiency.

  • Lumber and Materials
    Wood is the primary material used for poles and trusses. However, some choose steel for more robust support. Prices fluctuate based on quality and availability.

  • Equipment and Labor
    If you’re not planning a DIY project, labor costs and equipment rental can add to your expenses. Always consult professionals who are familiar with local building codes for accurate estimates.

  • Insulation and Interior Finishing
    The cost of insulation and materials like plywood for interior walls will also affect the final cost. Investing in good insulation will save you money in the long run through lower energy bills.

Pole barn frame building.

Pole Barn Framing Guide

When it comes to constructing a pole barn, each step is crucial for ensuring a durable and stable structure. In this section, we’ll elaborate on each stage of the pole barn framing process, providing you with the information you need to successfully complete your construction project.

Site Preparation

The first step in any construction process is preparing the site. For pole barn framing, you’ll want to start by clearing the area where the structure will be built. Remove any rocks, roots, or debris that may interfere with construction. Next, level the ground to ensure a stable base for your barn.

It’s essential to also mark the positions where the poles will be placed. Use stakes and strings to outline the dimensions of your barn accurately, taking into account local building codes and regulations for setbacks.

Setting the Poles

Once your site is prepared, it’s time to set the poles or posts into place. These poles are the backbone of your structure, providing the vertical support needed for the walls and roof. Depending on your specific requirements and local building codes, you may either bury the poles into the ground or set them onto a concrete foundation.

If you opt for the former, dig holes that are at least 4 feet deep and fill them with a layer of gravel for drainage before inserting the poles. Ensure the poles are perfectly vertical using a plumb bob or level. Finally, secure the poles with concrete, and allow them adequate time to set before proceeding to the next steps.

Installing Trusses

After your poles are securely in place, the next step is installing the trusses. These triangular frame structures provide the framework for your roof and disperse weight across the poles, adding stability to your barn.

Trusses come in various designs, from simple king post trusses to more elaborate scissor trusses. Select a design that aligns with your barn’s intended use and aesthetic preferences. Attach the trusses to the top of your poles, ensuring they are evenly spaced and securely fastened using heavy-duty bolts or specialized truss plates.

Attaching Siding

With your trusses installed, you’re ready to add the siding. This exterior covering serves both functional and aesthetic purposes, shielding your structure from weather conditions and providing a finished look. Siding can be made from various materials, including metal, wood, or even vinyl.

Metal siding is often the most durable and low-maintenance option, making it a popular choice. Attach the siding to the exterior of your poles, starting at the bottom and working your way up to ensure proper water runoff.

Roof Installation

Now it’s time for one of the most critical aspects: installing the roof. The type of roofing material you choose will depend on various factors such as local climate, aesthetic preference, and budget. Metal roofs are commonly used due to their durability and ease of installation.

Carefully lay out your roofing material over the trusses, securing them in place with roofing screws that have rubber washers to prevent leaks. Make sure to overlap edges to enhance the waterproof capabilities of your roof.

Optional: Flooring and Insulation

While not always necessary, adding flooring and insulation can enhance the functionality and comfort of your pole barn. Flooring options range from simple gravel or concrete slabs to more refined wood or tiled surfaces, depending on the barn’s intended use. Insulation can also be added to the walls and roof to improve thermal efficiency, making the barn usable in various seasons.

By meticulously planning and executing each of these steps, you’ll be well on your way to constructing a durable, functional, and aesthetically pleasing pole barn. Always remember to consult local building codes and professionals to ensure your structure is up to standard.


Is Pole Barn Framing Suitable for Residential Use?

Yes, pole barn framing is an excellent option for residential use, especially when you need more space for storage or recreational activities.

What is Bookshelf Girts?

Bookshelf girts are horizontal boards attached directly to the poles, providing extra support and space for attaching interior walls.

How Do I Maintain My Pole Barn?

Regular inspections and maintenance, such as checking for loose boards and applying a fresh coat of paint, will help prolong the lifespan of your structure.

Can I Attach Other Buildings to My Pole Barn?

Yes, other buildings can be attached directly to your pole barn. However, ensure that you adhere to local building codes and seek professional advice for a seamless process.

Conclusion and Recommendation

Pole barn framing offers a myriad of benefits, from cost-effectiveness to structural stability. The absence of interior walls provides more space, making it a versatile option for various applications, from residential to commercial use. The construction method allows for easy insulation attachment, giving you a more energy-efficient building.

For those contemplating a construction project, we recommend opting for metal pole barn framing. Metal offers an elevated level of durability and requires less maintenance compared to wood. Plus, metal is often better at complying with local building codes, ensuring your building is not just robust but also compliant.

The experience and expertise encapsulated in this guide aim to provide a trustworthy and authoritative resource for anyone interested in pole barn framing. Whether you’re starting from square one or are an experienced builder, this comprehensive guide provides all the information you need for a successful project.

Additionally, when embarking on such a venture, it’s crucial to choose the right metal pole barn contractor to ensure quality and longevity in your build.

Pacesetter Construction