Difference Between Pole Barns & Pole Buildings?

So, what is the difference between a pole barn and a pole building?

The most accurate description of both is post frame construction or post frame buildings but the pole barn and pole building acronyms both really mean the same thing. Regionally one term is preferred over the other.

For arguments sake, lets say pole barns are farm buildings or uninhabited garages or equipment storage buildings. Then pole buildings are structures that are inhabited or has some commercial use involving the public or residential purposes.

Then we can identify the distinct differences we offer for those two different applications and throw a name on both of them!

Pole Barns

An uninhabited building that is either cold storage or minimally insulated is the most simple structural design.

Category I trusses rated for 3 second wind gust in your area with a thermal Ct of 1.2 unheated. The exposure Ce is either B or C depending on the location of the job site. Trusses are 2′ to 4′ 6″ on center based upon snow load, building span, and other parameters. This page shows the changes we make for pole barn trusses with porch or lean-to configurations.

#2 spruce 2×4 girts 24″ on center nailed to the exterior of the posts. Thin blanket insulation is acceptable for condensation control. Thick blankets ruin the building strength achieved by a diaphragm effect produced with properly installed steel siding and roofing. For high wind areas we incorporate stout wall systems.

#2 spruce 2×4 purlins laying flat on center based upon site conditions, truss spacing, and span. Never more than 24″ on center.

Pole Buildings

Full time insulated buildings with living quarters or public access may incorporate residential or commercial code that can change some of the standards listed below.

Steel Roofing & Siding
Although not mandatory in some areas, most commercial buildings are quoted 26 ga steel siding and roofing and in some areas local permitting can require 26 ga for residential too.

Trusses are manufactured to residential or applicable code per engineer structural drawings and review. Sheathing is included on the roof to reduce noise from rain. Truss drawings are engineer stamped.

Girts are bookshelf installed to provide a deep space for insulation and air gap from metal. Girts are sized based upon post depth plus 1 1/2″. This allows the girt to protrude out past the post 1 1/2″ to align with truss supports and skirt board nailed around the perimeter of the posts.

Insulation options depend on local code and with post frame construction of this type high installed R values are assured. Condensation control is incorporated into the insulation package as well.

Laminated Posts
Use of pre-manufactured laminated posts for pole buildings provides straight surfaces to frame your wall on with no twisting like a sawn post will do after a period of time. These posts are 2x material (2×6, 2×8, etc) surfaced on all four sides, treated individually, then finger jointed, glued, and pressed together. Finally, they are nailed together using ring shank nails except for the top 2′ – 3′ to aid in notching or cutting off a bearing block if the post is ordered with the top center ply loose.