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Barn exterior walls: board & batten, or steel?

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  • Barn exterior walls: board & batten, or steel?

    We're having a smallish straightforward (36' wide x 84' long with 12' walls) barn built.

    We have the option of going with either 29 (or 28) gauge steel on the walls, or board & batten.

    Both cost the same to buy.

    Board & batten is slightly more expensive to install - not much, though.

    Steel will probably last longer.

    Wood looks nice, and can be treated, or left untreated.

    Anyone got any input on other advantages or disadvantages of one over the other?

    I'm torn. No surprises there

  • #2
    I think wood barns age more gracefully than metal barns.


    • #3
      Mine is steel on the outside, and looks nice, but you can't ever change the color if you want to. Mine is dull grey

      Also, consider if the horses will ever have access to being right up against the exterior. If they will be (like a paddock that butts up against it) you may want to steer clear of steel siding, since if someone kicks it and gets a leg through.....ugh....the things that could happen....

      Maybe start on the bottom with some concrete block then add wood up from there, to keep the wood from potential mud and wet issues? Brick, maybe on the bottom?
      "As a rule we disbelieve all the facts and theories for which we have no use."- William James

      Proud member of the Wheat Loss Clique.


      • #4
        Just built a new barn this summer. We went with board and batten. I LOVE IT!! behind the the tievek - not sure the spelling, but it that weatherproof material that they put on houses. My barn is warm, airtight and weather tight, plus looks great.

        Close up


        • #5
          Steel lasts a long time, and can be painted, actually. My SIL just painted her 20+ year old pole barn a lovely light gray, by herself, using paint recommended by a paint company for just such a purpose.

          If horses can't access the barn exterior, then steel is very safe. I assume the inside of your stalls will be sided with wood, so again, the horses won't be up against the metal directly.

          I guess it comes down to your personal aesthetic--what do you like best. Steel doesn't rot, get attacked by insects or need painting or staining periodically. You can expect a steel building to not need maintenance for 15-20 years.
          Proud member of the "Don't rush to kill wildlife" clique!


          • #6
            I would go with steel, to save my self work over the years in upkeep. Our horses have no access to the barn when they are turned out. They are led in or outside, have no "choices" in barn access. And none of them have ever left a mark on the barn either.

            Barns that horses can reach, touch, rub on, seem to really take a beating from getting kicked, chewed or horses are exposed to dangerously sharp metal edges. Have seen a LOT of injured animals, some permanent, who could touch their barns when turned out.

            The classic colors of metal, white, red, do seem to stay pretty nice looking over time. Other colors may get outdated or not suit you later on. Painting is always an option.

            Do get a couple extra sheets of the metal siding. The siding makers change the rib pattern every couple years, and your pattern may not be available later on. Could be REALLY hard to match. Those extra sheets can come in handy if some accident happens, like "Gosh mom, I was sure I had the tractor out of gear when it hit the door-wall-corner etc!!" Barn repair is then easy with that spare metal sheet!


            • #7
              I was like you and ended up splitting the difference. I went with a wooden structure and steel roof! For what it's worth I would probably go with a heavier gauge steel, which would be the lower number. Have fun!


              • #8
                my barn is board and batten and i love the look, it was built in '03 and i would do it again today with a small twist.

                we completed a guesthouse/office this spring that we had sided with HardiePanel siding - http://www.jameshardie.com/homeowner...panelSiding.py you get a nearly maintenance free siding with the look of board and batten - and trust me NO ONE can tell. they also have a very nice selection of factory colors to choose from (so you can nix having to paint from your budget to help recoup the materials cost).

                i would think that the install would run slightly cheaper than traditional B&B because it's in large sheets...
                * trying hard to be the person that my horses think i am


                • #9
                  We have steel barns built in 1947 that are still like new and horses have been against them and not hurt themselves or the barns at all.

                  As for what looks best, that is in the eye of the beholder.
                  I think that all can look fine, if built to suit the owner.


                  • #10
                    What is your climate like? In my chilly north coast location, I prefer to be inside a wood barn.


                    • #11
                      Don't read too much into me liking wood better than metal, I wouldn't turn down a nice metal barn, either


                      • #12
                        I used Board on Board White Oak. It's sort of like board and batten, but the gaps are set wider in the first layer and full boards used as the top layer.

                        Woodpeckers and flying squirrels can't even dent it, like they can go right through Cedar or Cypress.

                        I never put anything on it, and only pressure wash it about once every ten years or so.

                        Our farm is back in the woods on a Lake.


                        • #13
                          Ours is steel siding with 3/4" plywood liner where horses may be close to it on the inside, as in the back of this picture I took a minute ago:



                          • #14
                            29 ga metal siding in not much thicker than heavy aluminum foil

                            29 ga. is 0.0113 of an inch thick


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by clanter View Post
                              29 ga metal siding in not much thicker than heavy aluminum foil

                              29 ga. is 0.0113 of an inch thick
                              Our barn metal is 26 gauge, I think, very thick, it would take an extraordinary kick from a horse to make a hole in it or dent it much.
                              You can't cut it with tin snips, have to use a cutting wheel on a grinder or a metal saw.
                              Every barn built with this metal here is the same, only old time corrugated metal sheets at one time were from China and very thin, but those don't sell any more around here.


                              • #16
                                I prefer wood. Outside walls are inside walls. No place for varmints to set up house in the space between.

                                Repairs are generally cheaper.

                                Had a friend who has always insisted on a steel barn and recently had something causing a problem to one of the horses. Insides (wood) would have to be removed (no small task) to find the allergen.

                                Crud can build up there over time.
                                “Reality is merely an illusion, albeit a very persistent one.”
                                ? Albert Einstein


                                • #17
                                  I have been in two barn fires and I will never build the main frame and walls with wood.
                                  Any barn can burn because of the combustibles in it, but keeping the flammables down and building with metal will slow down or even avoid fires.

                                  As for stuff getting in walls, that depends on how you build, not what materials you use.
                                  We have all metal and the plywood lining some walls is flush with the purlins and screwed directly to them, where nothing can get behind it.

                                  We used to have wood barns for many years, but none of them is still standing, they didn't last but a few decades, while every metal barn here, built since the 1940's, is still standing and in excellent shape.

                                  Now, if someone just likes wood better, that is fine too, but while not worse, better, I doubt it.


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Bluey View Post
                                    Now, if someone just likes wood better, that is fine too, but while not worse, better, I doubt it.

                                    Laminated wooden trusses will withstand fire better than a steel truss as the steel beam will transfer the heat through out its length weakening it in areas where there is no fire often to point of collapse

                                    The 1967 McCormick Center fire in Chicago proved that point when the entire structure collapsed due to transfer heat

                                    A laminated beam will char on the exterior but remain structural sound.

                                    On our barn since are in an area prone for grass fires we resided with Hardieboard siding which is concrete product


                                    • #19
                                      Originally posted by Tom King View Post
                                      I used Board on Board White Oak.
                                      gorgeous TK, just stunning. but i gotta ask - what's it like to drive nails through that siding? you must have popeye's forearms!
                                      * trying hard to be the person that my horses think i am


                                      • #20
                                        steel most certainly can collapse under high heat.

                                        Just build what suits you, seriously. Everything has an upside/downside.

                                        My house is Hardiplank- love the stuff. now there's an idea- wood or steel framed,sided with hardiplank. Screw tradition, get some concrete boards Looks like board, comes in a zillion styles, wears like iron. Or concrete.