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Pole barn building questions

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  • Pole barn building questions

    I am getting estimates to put up a pole barn this summer, somewhere in the neighborhood of 36x54 or 40x60. My most burning questions at the moment:
    • I'm planning dutch doors for the outside that open into paddocks, which I'll probably build myself later on. One framing company has me convinced 4x7' is a standard opening for horses, another that they should be 4x8'. Thoughts??
    • Also thinking about paying more to have extended eaves for horse shelter on one side, equipment storage on the other. What's an adequate length, width and height for a medium-size tractor and a 2-horse trailer? What's the appropriate depth to provide some shade and shelter to horses?
    • Opinions on steel roofing versus shingle roofing?

    Thanks in advance!!!

  • #2
    never thought much about it...but a horse trailer is usually no higher than 7 foot.

    Our main barn doors are eight foot but the stall doors are 7 foot, no one has bumped their head yet

    Steel roofing for longevity with insulation under it for sound deadening and to keep condensation from dripping


    • #3
      Get bids for all, wood framed, wood trusses and metal framed.
      Remember, wood may last 30 years, metal easily 100+.

      If you rather work with wood, you can still frame the stall doors with wood, even if the base framing of the building is metal.

      Metal roof with spray-on insulation is best, you won't have to re-shingle every so many years and it will take bigger hail to make holes.

      I would basically not frame with wood ever again, but using wood may be a consideration where you are and with the builders and materials you may have available.
      Wood framing is definitely second best to metal framing.

      Depending on the roof pitch, if 2/12 or up to 6/12 and your overhang depth, you may have one or another height at the front of the overhangs.
      Our tractor requires 9', but you may not have need of that much.
      I would not want to have an overhang for horses to walk under the shed lower than 8'.

      You need a graph paper and draw different designs, so you can see what you have there.
      The builders that you talk to for bids shouldl help you refine it.

      Be sure you compare apples to apples on the bids, a cheaper one may be cutting corners you don't want cut.


      • #4
        Here in Michigan with you. We did an extended eaves one side, planning to put horse trailer under it. Sides were open, snow slid off and trailer was pretty much stuck in place until spring. No machinery at the time to dig it out. Enclosing the overhang is worth the cost, though having a VERY long barn/shed, with only being able to use the ends can be frustrating.

        Fire folks do NOT recommend keeping machines with fueled engines beside or in a horse barn with all the flamable material stored there. Better to have TWO buildings apart.

        Also with Michigan weather, I would strongly recommend single piece outside doors instead of Dutch doors. All the folks we know with the Dutch doors have to keep working on them so they stay usable. Horses lean and chew on them, they hang crooked in short order. A better idea would be one-piece sliding outside doors you can fasten snuggly shut against the wind and weather, with a fold-back inside mesh screen. Screen can contain horse you want inside, but allow vision, air-flow, horse can't jump out over the half door of Dutch doors (heard and seen that happen too). Our stall doors are 4'x8', one inch thick, made from a single sheet of outdoor plywood with crossbars on aisle side, hung on sliders. Cross bars keep the plywood flat, no warping, give a "barn" look. Inexpensive, solid, worked very well over many years.

        I actually don't want any horses being able to touch the barn walls outside, they seem to damage the siding or themselves, so things don't stay nice looking. I know a horse who sliced off his tongue, grazing along the bottom of siding! Owner found tongue laying there!! We lead our horses in and out, no run-in stalling.

        We have a steel roof, like it fine. You do need to have it checked now and again, as mentioned for loosening of fasteners. Snow slides off to reduce the load. Sunshine helps you there. We have replaced the house shingle roof twice (we get about 15 years on good shingles), since we built the barn, so upwards of 30 years on metal, still looks GOOD. We plan to put steel roof on house instead of shingles again when it needs replacing, which will probably be fairly soon.

        I would go with as much footage inside barn as possible. Seems like you never have too much space. You change goals, bigger space can accept those changes. We rode when we built our barn, now we do a lot of driving horses, so carriage storage is needed. We built a lean-to on one side! We now own more horses than we ever dreamed! I mean back then you only NEEDED one to ride, did everything, right? THEN we got into Driving so the little kids could come along!! Too little to ride for a couple hours. Well for the carriages, it is more fun to take a couple horses or FOUR, so now a lot more hay storage is needed for those multiples than the couple riding horses of back then. We have added on to the barn twice, with additions totaling more space now than original barn!

        Couple last things. Make BIG doors to get in and out of barn with. Make them both tall and wide, so you can drive vehicles into the barn. Hay wagons unload easier just throwing down, than if you must carry bales to be stacked. Feed off the truck into the feed room, is way easier than carrying NUMEROUS bags from that little door across the barn, then into the feed room. Keep in mind that it is cheaper to build UP, than outward. Just making sidewalls 14' instead of 12' will GREATLY increase your storage area for minimal cost. Spreading sideways like we did, is much more expensive, takes more work. Going up two more feet would have been such a SMART move for us, but we thought the 36'x60' barn we built was HUGE, all we would EVER need for horses.


        • #5
          I disagree completely with metal roofing being bad in windy places.
          We live in a windfarm and any shingles were blown off long ago, metal barns now 70 years old are still fine, thank you.

          In fact, here, everyone that roofs or reroofs with metal gets an automatic 10% off their insurance rates, shingles just don't stand up to our winds.

          I agree that any kind of sheet of metal blowing into something will kill anything it hits, but it should not come off if installed properly on walls or roofs, unless the winds are so bad anything will be blown off.

          Now, what is best for you depends on where you are, ask several local builders and look around you at what they have put up and how it is holding.

          One good place to ask is your local fire department, they will have very specific ideas of what is best and why, they are the ones that have to work with what happens to building materials when things go wrong and they are destroyed by fire or weather.


          • #6
            My barn is 40' by 60'. The four stall doors that open to the outside are 4' by 8' and they are slider doors for the reasons mentioned above. Ought to mention back in college a finger got caught between the top and bottom of Dutch doors on a breexy May day. Never again. The regular barn entrance doors are 10' split sliders. The overhead door for my GN horse trailer is 12' by 12'. You are up in Michigan, you will want at least one overhead door (with an automatic opener) so you can get the tractor out on a snowy day. With drifts my 10' split sliders are not always available to open after a snow storm.

            As for an overhang on the outside of the barn for the horses I would think 8' would be okay.

            My roof is an unsulated steel roof on wooden rafters. Define your goal and build for it. My barn serves as a wind/precipitation shelter. It is not heated and I have no need to keep the inside temp below freezing. Your needs may be different so you might need insulation.


            • #7
              Pretty sure mine are 4x8, but you can have whatever you want. Don't let a builder push you around!

              Adding an extended rooffor my "horse porch" wasthe best thing I did to my barn. It runs the length of my barn--36 feet--and extends out 10 feet, forming a perfect shelter for them to hang out. I put used RR ties around the perimeter and keep it bedded with a mix of pellets, dirt and sand and it's great.

              I keep my trailer sitting on a crushed concrete pad about 25 feet from the barn. Not worth it to me to build a big enough "shelter" for a hunk of aluminum. it sits outside year-round and is content. We keep the tractor in our garage since it is our snow-removal implement all winter and it's a LONG 800 feet from house to barn in deep snow!

              We have composite shingle roofing. MUCH more attractive, IMO, and quieter.
              Click here before you buy.


              • #8
                Prefab stall doors are 7'. I think they're too short. My stall doors are 4x8. I really don't understand why your dude wants to do 7'- framing is easier and less wasteful with even numbers.


                • #9
                  Originally posted by shakeytails View Post
                  Prefab stall doors are 7'. I think they're too short. My stall doors are 4x8. I really don't understand why your dude wants to do 7'- framing is easier and less wasteful with even numbers.
                  Maybe he is short?


                  • #10
                    I disagree about the roof too. In a wind storm we'll lose shingles off the house but never from the metal barn roof. The barn roof is at least 25 years old.

                    Will you put any windows in? Will you insulate the roof?


                    • #11
                      The incident rodawn is thinking of was with an unfinished building, not a completed one. The metal sheets had not been properly secured. Happened to our neighbours during construction too...builder didnt' secure the metal during a windstorm and made quite a mess; fortunately no one was hurt.
                      Freeing worms from cans everywhere!


                      • #12
                        I like a 4'6" X 10' stall door. It eliminates almost all accidents that can happen if you are working with a new horse, a rank horse, a spooked horse or any upset equine (thunder and lightening, herd bound watching a buddy leave, etc..). If and when a horse explodes as you leave or enter a stall, they can sometimes rear and hit their head on an 8' header. My cousin lost her best horse this way. Fractured skull, gone within three days.

                        4'6" is also a nicer width because you can handle a tough horse and walk right next to it (with enough space to use your elbow/arm to keep the horse over on their side) going into or out of the stall.

                        Firm believer in keeping all farm equipment and gasoline/petrol products away from the horse barn. Seperate buildings are a much better idea.

                        Metal roofing is great when fastened properly and even better with an underlay of plywood and tar paper.


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by anchodavis View Post
                          I am getting estimates to put up a pole barn this summer, somewhere in the neighborhood of 36x54 or 40x60. My most burning questions at the moment:
                          • I'm planning dutch doors for the outside that open into paddocks, which I'll probably build myself later on. One framing company has me convinced 4x7' is a standard opening for horses, another that they should be 4x8'. Thoughts??
                          • I made the mistake of being ok with 7' doors, and when I went to build the Dutch Doors myself, decided, after living with 7' for almost 7 years, they needed to be 8', so we cut out another 1', and I'm VERY happy about it. IME 4' wide is fine.
                          • Also thinking about paying more to have extended eaves for horse shelter on one side, equipment storage on the other. What's an adequate length, width and height for a medium-size tractor and a 2-horse trailer? What's the appropriate depth to provide some shade and shelter to horses?
                            Excellent thought and one I wish I had done. 8' is probably the minimum for horse shelter, but 12' would be better. However, it somewhat depends on the direction this side faces. Go full length on the overhang, you won't regret it. 12' wide on both sides would cover just about everything. 10' tall should cover most trailers.
                          • Opinions on steel roofing versus shingle roofing?
                          Thanks in advance!!!
                          I have shingles, as it was going to cost as much, or more, to use the metal and insulate it. Pros and cons abound with both.
                          The CoTH CYA - please consult w/your veterinarian under any and all circumstances. - ET


                          • #14
                            If you go metal roof you will want to insulate it as it will sweat and will be loud in the rain if you don't. We have 6 barns and two have shingle roofs. The rest have insulated metal roofs. The shingles that face North have black streaks, I hate that! They are only 8 years old. The metal roofs will rust if you allow birds to roost and mess on them.

                            You are the one paying to build the barn so do not let the builder decide what is best for your needs.

                            Bigger doors and storage is always better. You will never have enough storage. I would not like my stall doors shorter than 8'.

                            Dutch doors look great on a barn but I would not allow my horses access to the barn exterior. They will chew, rub, eat, scratch and mess up the siding. No matter what it is made of.

                            As far as how big your overhangs are, determine which direction they face. If openings face North or West you may have to enclose the outside walls just bescause of winter winds. Winds can do a lot of damage to a building especially one opened on end. You may want to discuss this with your builder for his/her opinion.

                            I remember how exciting it was to build our first barn! Best of luck! No matter what you will always want to change something down the line!


                            • #15
                              Originally posted by flyingkfarm View Post
                              If you go metal roof you will want to insulate it as it will sweat and will be loud in the rain if you don't.
                              I second the insulation. The only big regret I have with building my barn is not shelling out a couple thousand for insulation while we were building it. Eventually I'll get the roof insulated, but it won't be as cheap or as easy as if I had done it in the first place!


                              • #16
                                Check on the spray foam insulation, that can be used in new or old barns and is not that costly, uses much less labor and time and is not as thick as the other kinds for the same insulation value.


                                • #17
                                  If you have a ridge vent or cupola, the metal roof will not sweat. We live in humidity central, with crazy temp changes, and my metal roof has never showed any condensation.
                                  Lowly Farm Hand with Delusions of Barn Biddieom.
                                  Witherun Farm


                                  • #18
                                    Originally posted by Trevelyan96 View Post
                                    If you have a ridge vent or cupola, the metal roof will not sweat. We live in humidity central, with crazy temp changes, and my metal roof has never showed any condensation.
                                    I've got a ridge vent on my roof and when we have frost, the roof drips on the inside. If I did it again I would go for the insulation, especially since I don't have any shade around the barn


                                    • #19
                                      Condensation in the barn:



                                      • #20
                                        I built your barn

                                        Mine doors are 4x8, no problems with them. Shorter would be a problem! Be sure they can be fastened open (probably goes without saying).

                                        I did 8' eaves the length of one side. *Definitely a plus* But mine is on the south side of the barn, and when I get wind out of the west, the horses move around to the east side of the barn to get out of it, even if it means standing in the rain. I would have been better to angle my barn a little more, or put up a side protection on the west side of the eaves (which now would interfere with my entrance gates - go figure!)

                                        My paddock encircles my barn. I know it's not ideal, but I have had no problems with them marking up the outside, grazing around it, etc. But then, they have hay when in the paddock or they are in the pastures, so they are kept occupied when in the paddock..

                                        The other half of the barn stores farm equipment. The garage doors are 8' tall and just *barely* fit the medium farm tractor in. Taller doors on the equipment side would have been better. I put cement on that side of the barn to make it easier to roll equipment around on and keep clean.

                                        Something to think about too - how are you going to keep birds out of your eaves inside the barn? I wish I'd have done something ahead of time to block them, because climbing over all the farm equipment now, trying to get up that high, is awful, where as if I'd planned ahead....didn't realize how much of a disgusting mess just 2 nests of birds can make!