I've seen some barns and arenas with ceilings in the whole barn and I think they look incredibly sharp without the exposed rafters. Plus, at one barn I boarded at they were able to power wash it every so often and there were no dusty, high, cobwebby rafters to deal with. It seemed like it also helped with noise and warmth. Does anyone have one or know how you would handle ventilation and condensation? Our barn is planned to have full length ridge vents with a functional cupola, but obviously I can't just stick the metal up there. I've bothered my barn guy too much today already so I thought someone here might know! Any cons that I'm not thinking of? How tall would you think a ceiling would need to be?
My current barn has a ceiling and I wouldn't go back to exposed rafters if you paid me! It's basically plywood painted white and the lights are recessed fluorescent tubes with covers. I'm tempted to say that the ceiling is 10 feet tall but don't hold me to that.... :-) All I know is that it's plenty tall for the horses and that's what matters.
No cobwebs, no birds nesting, no varmint crawling around the rafters - you just can't beat it. It's much less of a fire hazard and makes for a much cleaner barn. I also have large windows in all the stalls (some of them have three) which makes the barn bright and airy.
I'll see if I can come up with some pictures....
Well, here's one..
The stalls are tongue-in-groove pine with several layers of that nasty plastic sealer stuff. The ceiling just has white outdoor paint on it. I'll attach a picture of the outside of the main barn so you can see how many windows I have and how big they are.... that's really all the venting you need.., that and two big doors. The barn is sort of like a very wide "V" and only has stalls on one side and both corners. I never liked the draft you get from center aisle constructions, and this format definitely works. The barn is attached to a hay barn via covered driveway, and the hay barn has an apartment above that all my friends like to use when they're showing at Morven Park in Leesburg.
I was curious too. Seems like with a metal roof it might not make a difference, but the wood/plywood doesn't seem like it would help! I can see with not getting all of the nests and junk up in the rafters though.
A ceiling reduces fire hazard if the barn owner never cleans out cobwebs and dust from the rafters. Not s lot of people do, so that will increase fire hazard by quite a bit. Having cobwebby barns is like keeping lighter fluid in your barn...light a match next to an outdoor web sometime and see what happens.
Seigi...the poly is gross putting it on and letting it dry but it does make a big difference in protecting the wood and cleanign the wood afterwards. I still kick myself for not putting that over the finish on my stalls before I brought the horses home. Now it's not as easy to do it since with the stinky fumes I'd want the horses outside for 24-48 hours. You do have a lovely lovely barn...I'm sure it was worth the wait. I built my barn exactly to my specs...and you're right, there's always a thing or 3 that you'd do different the second time around.
I have open rafters....BUT...I have a small barn so keeping the ridge, eaves and rafters clean is a snap. If I had a big barn I'd have a high ceiling. Low ceilings make for muggy/stinky barns IMO. But high ones with good ventilation are great. And cleaner. My barn is only 24x40 with an 8' eave height and 13' ridge height so I can sweep the entire interior rafters with a broom on an extended pole o power wash it easily. Not a cobweb in there. The ridge and eave vents help a lot with winter ventilation...I can close my barn up in really bad weather and still have fresh air in there without drafts or too much cold.
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Interesting! I never knew what a fire hazard cobwebs are! I still have no idea whether I'd want a ceiling or not. Our walls will be 9' (well 9' clearance, I guess I don't know the total height) with a 3/12 pitch most likely. Ours will be 24x40 too so more than manageable to clean. I really like the way the ceiling looks, but I'm concerned about ventilation still. I've heard so much from the barn builders about "you have to have a vapor barrier, ridge vents, and/or cupola to prevent condensation and provide ventilation". So if I have those done and then add the ceiling, they won't be doing any good then, right? Will they be creating more of a hazard since stuff could still get in through there and have no where to go and in essence I'd be created more of a fire hazard by trapping them up there? We will have 4 dutch doors, a people door and a sliding door so in nice weather they'd be fine, I'm sure. We get pretty bad winters though and it would be nice to be able to close it up and not worry about ventilation.
So what's this poly/plasticky finish you two are talking about? Is this the "spar varnish" I saw mentioned in another post? I want something to finish all of the wood with that gives it a gloss so I can clean them easier. My parent's built their stalls and didn't finish them and they just look horrible, sunbleached, disgustingly dirty, etc. I have NO idea what to use in a barn and even after reading an old post I'm still confused which ones are the most flammable, which give a sheen, etc.
Siegi, I love your barn!
I have a couple of questions,
how many stalls?
in the first photo with the pavers, one side is stalls, and the other, is that open, or do you have doors you can shut.
For your hay barn, I assume the hay is at the ground level, but I am curious how you keep varmints, snakes, etc out of the upstairs apt?
I have an open ceiling with exposed beams that's 30' high. It can get quiet hot here, but the ventilation is great so it is cooler in the barn even on very hot days. (The metal roof and insulated ceiling help that as well.)
Inside my stalls are unpainted 6" rough oak boards and stall grills above 4' feet. The wood down the aisle is tongue & groove oak. I've treated it with a Waterlox product that's tung oil and mineral spirits which is easy to touch up when it gets banged up.
Thanks, fivehorses! The main barn has 8 stalls, including 2 extra large foaling stalls. In the middle of the "V" are the tackroom, bathroom and wash stall. There are two large doors - one single and one double that I think you can see in the outside picture.
I have another 8-stall barn on the other part of the property. It is a shed-row type barn and it's very horse friendly. Two of the stalls have small paddocks attached to them (one is 12 x 24 and the other 24 x 24) - very, very handy for lay-ups!
We live on a total of 50 acres with about 18 acres fenced in for the main barn and 22 acres for the second barn.
As I said, this is the second time I've planned barns and I had learned a lot from our first effort.
Here's a picture of the second barn - the riding ring is in front of it and the round pen isn't far, either.
P.S.: Yes, the hay is at ground level and we've never had a problem with critters in the apartment. However, there is a definite hay aroma that prevails in the apartment but most folks kind of like it! :-)
Siegi Belz www.stalleuropa.com
2007 KWPN-NA Breeder of the Year
Dutch Warmbloods Made in the U. S. A.
In the flat part, the ceiling is 10 feet, and about 20 feet at the peak in the vaulted areas. For additional ventilation, I have two roof exhaust fans at the top of each vaulted area (where the temperature is highest) that are thermostatically controlled. It stays nice and cool in the summer as the barn is situated on the property to take advantage of prevailing breezes. I have double doors (with operational windows) at each end of the main and cross aisles that can be closed if it gets too windy. Each stall has its own dutch window, and we install overhead fans in the summer to provide even more ventilation and cooling for the horses.
The ceiling (and most of the walls) is/are fully insulated and my barn stays toasty warm in the winter--never gets below freezing, even when it's in the single digits or teens outside.
I LOVE it and would never NOT have a ceiling again. I have another barn on the property that does not have a ceiling and it's a complete pain to keep the rafters clean.
Whoever said money can't buy happiness never owned a horse.
I just picked my jaw up off the floor, you guys have AMAZING barns. wow. I love my barn, but oh my you guys have amazing places. how wonderful!
dmalbone, you know my place, I did post a shot of the open to the loft area and finally did a "farm tour" post. Since you are not doing a loft, I would vote open to the rafters. Either way, I'm sure you will be happy!