Key Difference Between Pole Barn And Metal Building

Key Difference Between Pole Barn And Metal Building

Metal buildings have more durability, construction flexibility, foundation flexibility, and design options compared to pole barns. The maintenance requirements and environmental impact of the pole barn are higher. However, for metal buildings, the life span and cost are higher. 

You can dive into the article for some clear difference between pole barn and metal building

Key Takeaways: 

  • Difference between pole barns and metal building
  • Detailed Difference between pole barn and metal building
  • Which one is better: pole barn or metal building?

A Comprehensive Table For Pole Barns vs. Metal Buildings 

Apart from material type, pole barns, and metal buildings have many dissimilarities in several factors. The differences between the pole barn and metal building based on the key aspects are-

Key Aspects Pole Barn Metal Building
Durability Less More 
Construction  Complicated and requires more labor and time  Flexible and requires less labor and time
Foundation none Concrete foundation
Design options and Brands

Maintenance requirements 

Less options


More options


Impact on Environment More  Less 
Warranty Around 50 years (approx.) 50 to 100 years (approx.)
Cost Less More

Detailed Discussion of the Differentiating Aspects

Now, you may tune in to a detailed discussion about the mentioned dissimilarities. 


Metal Buildings are more durable as they use 14- or 12-gauge steel tube framing. Meanwhile, pole barns use wooden poles, support beams, and metal exteriors. 

Metal buildings are fire- and weather-resistant, with stronger joints and 20-year rust-through warranties. They are 100% recyclable and last the longest. They require less energy for temperature regulation and are more durable. 

Wooden pole barns can be recycled but are single-use, making them less sustainable. 

Pole barns and metal buildings should have similar longevity. But metal buildings are more resistant to wood rot and termite damage. 

Winner: Metal Buildings


Post-frame buildings use wooden poles for framing, while metal buildings use pre-engineered steel I-beam columns.

Key Difference Between Pole Barn And Metal BuildingSource: metalbuildingshop.

Metal buildings offer more flexibility in door placement and bays, making them faster to build. In the case of pole barns, you will require more labor as their costs and construction time keep increasing.

Metal buildings also come prefabricated, simplifying the construction process and including professional installation in the price. You can choose your own preferred insulation while they set up your place.

Winner: Metal buildings.


Metal buildings can have a concrete foundation to stand on, but wood pole barns can’t. 

A wood pole barn’s foundation is very different from that of a metal building. Pole barns are often built with dirt floors, allowing the poles to anchor into the earth, with no concrete foundation. 

Metal structures can be built on concrete foundations or directly on the ground, like the ones by Newmart Builders.

Winner: Metal Buildings

Design Options & Brands

Pole barns are more complex and costly to build. Metal structures offer almost no limit to building size, allowing wider clear spans without complicating the construction process. 

There are various roofing prospects for metal buildings. You can choose the height based on your personal requirements. You can even choose and purchase one from the available online roofing options.

Pole Barns, on the other hand, do not provide you with as much choice over the roofing structure. 


Key Difference Between Pole Barn And Metal BuildingSource : advancedhouseplans

Key Difference Between Pole Barn And Metal BuildingSource :

Because there is no prescriptive construction code for pole structures, they are not constructed to fulfilling local building requirements. Steel structures, on the other hand, are built to meet local wind, snow, and earthquake requirements.

Some of the top companies for pole barns are- Pole Barns Direct, Original Pole Buildings, and Pole Building Supply. Also, we can include Badger Building Center, and Pioneer Pole Buildings in the list. 

For metal buildings, there are Steel Structures America, American Steel Carports, Bargain Barns USA, SteelMaster, and Metal Barn Central.

You can consider and look into options like Sheathing installation on the wall. Furthermore, check if r13 insulation is better for the construction procedure. 

Winner: Metal buildings

Maintenance Requirements

Pole barns require more maintenance than steel buildings due to termite attraction and weather damage. 

Steel buildings can survive with minimal maintenance due to their strength and resistance to pest infestations. Contrarily, pole barns were popular in the 1930s because they were inexpensive and simple to construct. However, in terms of durability, wood cannot compete with steel. 

Furthermore, due to the number of repairs required over time, using a wooden pole barn wouldn’t be cost-effective. When compared to a pole barn, your steel building will be in better form for a longer period of time.

Winner: Metal Buildings

Impact on Environment

Metal buildings are regarded as eco-friendly due to the absence of wood as the principal construction element. Pole barns, on the other hand, are constructed into the ground and custom-made, resulting in less waste. 

However, Metal buildings need a larger footprint, greater site disturbance, and more materials like metal panels and support beams. 

Again, pole barns may be recycled and biodegraded, but wooden frames and walls are single-use. Wood contaminated by pests or rot cannot be recycled. Furthermore, chemically treated wood can be toxic to cattle and cannot be recycled.

Metal is recyclable and inherently non-combustible, helping to create a safe environment around it. 

Key Difference Between Pole Barn And Metal BuildingSource: wickbuildings.

Result: Tie


Insurance for the metal building is more beneficial than that for a pole barn

Pole barns can have a life span of 50 years if maintained well. On the other hand, Metal buildings have a greater life span which ranges from 50 to 100 years. 

Pole barns are more vulnerable to weather-related damage, whereas metal buildings can save up to 30% on insurance. The experts at Rhino Buildings say a pole barn will last 15-20 years with regular care. But a steel building would endure decades longer.

Winner: Metal buildings


Cost of installing a pole barn is less compared to the Metal building. 

Starting with the kit package, foundation, and construction average price of a pole barn is $31 per sq ft. But for a metal building the amount is 15% more, which is $36 per sq ft. 

Here is the cost layout of the pole barn and metal building, per sq ft.

Item Pole Barn ($/sq.ft) Metal Building ($/sq.ft)
Kit Package $12 – $23 $15 – 30
Foundation (full slab) $5 – $10 $5 – 10
Foundation (footings)  $3 – $6 $3 – 6
Construction $5 – $10 $5 – $10
Av. Installed Cost $31 $36
Cost Distinction Pole Barns cost 15% less than Metal buildings.

Now, the Kit package cost, based on the types of pole barns and metal buildings, is as follows:

Barn Type (Size) Pole Barn Metal Building
30×40 (1,200 sq ft) $21,200 $24,960
40×60 (2,400 sq ft) $38,460 $44,928
50×100 (5,000 sq ft) $70,940 $83,200

So, Metal building is expensive compared to pole barns. 

Which One Do You Think Is Better?

Pole barns are ideal for agricultural and basic storage purposes due to their simplicity, low environmental impact, and cost. 

Metal buildings, meanwhile, provide durability, construction and foundation flexibility, design options, insurance benefits, and lower maintenance requirements. 

Thus, metal buildings are a preferable choice for commercial, industrial, and temperature-sensitive applications. 

Overall, metal buildings are slightly better in more aspects than pole barns, making them a better choice. But ultimately the choice is upon your personal preferences and usage. 


Which One Is Cheaper, A Pole Barn Or A Metal Building?

Pole barns are cheaper compared to metal buildings. The cost of a pole barn is 15% less than a metal building. The average cost of installing a metal building is $36 per sq ft. But, for a pole barn, it is $31 per sq ft. 

What Is The Life Span Of A Pole Barn Compared To A Metal Building?

Semi-permanent structures like pole barns have a shorter life span than metal buildings. Pole barns, if maintained well, can have a life span of 50 years. On the other hand, Metal buildings have a life span ranging from 50 to 100 years. 

What Are Some Common Issues With Pole Barns?

Pole barns have some common issues, like the rotting of columns, mold, or termite contamination. The staples and nails of a pole barn may become loose and dislodged. Most of all, pole barns require frequent maintenance. 

Conclusion line

After going through a thorough difference between pole barn and metal building, it’s time to make your call. You can make a smart selection and choose the construction type that best matches your individual requirements. 

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