The Difference Between Pole Barn and Pre-Fab Buildings

Property owners may come across pole barn and metal building options when planning to construct a barn, agricultural building, shop, storage facility, greenhouse, or something similar. At first glance, the two construction processes may appear similar. However, they differ in terms of value, durability, and longevity.

Pole Barns vs. Pre-Fab Steel Buildings

In the realm of construction, pole barns, and pre-fab steel buildings are the two popular options for DIY enthusiasts. Property owners favor both options for their versatility and cost-effectiveness. However, it's not uncommon for the two construction terms to become entangled in discussions due to their similarities in DIY building projects.

The key difference between pole barns and metal buildings is that the former is mainly made of wood, while the latter is made of steel. This comparison highlights the unique pole barn and pre-fab steel building characteristics, providing in-depth insight into their distinct features to help homeowners demystify the confusion surrounding these construction methods.

Pole Barns

Most barns are often constructed from wood because of their availability, low cost, and functionality, making them incredibly popular among many customers.

Likewise, pole barns are wooden structures with several vertical support beams or poles connected to horizontal beams and wooden braces to make the structure's frame. The frames are then covered with wood siding, making pole barns a great option for property owners looking for a prefabricated, one-size fits-all building.

Pros and Cons of Pole Barn Kits

This segment highlights the advantages and disadvantages of using pole barn kits.


  • Cost-effective: Pole barn kits are typically more affordable to construct than traditional buildings since they require fewer materials and labor.
  • Customizable: Property owners can easily customize pole barns to suit their needs. These structures can be easily modified or expanded as necessary.
  • Versatile: Homeowners can use pole barns for various options, including agricultural, storage, and warehouse needs.
  • Quick construction: Their simpler designs allow constructors and DIY enthusiasts to build them relatively quickly, compared to other more complex buildings.
  • Energy-efficient: Pole barns are very energy-efficient when properly insulated and reduce heating and cooling costs.


  • Maintenance issues: Depending on the construction quality and materials, these buildings may require more regular maintenance and repairs than other building types.
  • Limited design options: Their basic designs limit property owners to specific building styles, making them undesirable for people looking for a specific aesthetic.
  • Lack of insulation: Pole barns can be more difficult to heat or cool if not properly insulated, making them less comfortable and increasing energy costs.
  • Vulnerability: Wood pole barns are more susceptible to weather damage, such as heavy snow loads or high winds, unless constructed and designed properly.

Pre-Fab Metal Buildings

Unlike wooden pole barns, pre-fab metal barns are built using only steel components. They're constructed using vertical steel framing, thick steel paneling for the exterior walls, and roof trusses. Combine these materials with metal roofing to become one of the strongest barn options available.

The materials used also make pre-fab metal buildings naturally resistant to moisture, high winds, rust, and even fire. These features make them an excellent choice for property owners looking to use them for agricultural, residential, commercial, or business purposes.

Pros and Cons of Pre-Fab Structures

Like all building types, pre-fab metal buildings have their merits and demerits that potential buyers can use to determine if they're the best fit for their budget, long-term livability, and other circumstances.


  • Durability: Pre-fab metal buildings are known for their strength and durability, making them a great choice for homeowners living in areas with harsh weather conditions.
  • Customizable: Metal buildings are customizable and easily fit specific client building needs and preferences. They also come in various design options, from different roof types and colors to added aesthetics.
  • Low maintenance: Metal buildings require little maintenance, as they're resistant to insect damage, rot, and decay.
  • Fire-resistant: Pre-fab metal buildings are less susceptible to fire damage than pole barns and other conventional building materials.
  • Energy-efficient: Pre-fab steel structures can be easily insulated, making them more energy-efficient and reducing heating and cooling costs.


  • Condensation: Without proper ventilation and insulation, pre-fab metal buildings become prone to condensation, resulting in mold, rust or even water leaks.
  • Higher upfront costs: Pre-fab metal buildings are more expensive to construct than pole barns because of the material costs and specialized labor required for assembly and construction.
  • Difficult to modify: Pre-fab metal buildings are more difficult to modify once constructed because of the need for specialized power tools and equipment needed for the job.
  • Noisy: Metal buildings can be incredibly noisy, especially during heavy rains or hail, because of the metal roofing and siding used in their construction

Main Difference Between Pole Barns and Pre-Fab Buildings

In this section, we've broken down the main differences between pole barns and pre-fab metal buildings to help property owners determine the best option for their next buildings.

Construction Process

Pole barns are built primarily with wooden poles set up to 96" apart to make up their framing. The framing is anchored a few feet apart into the foundation and serves as the main support structure for the barn. The barn floor is usually soil instead of concrete.

On the other hand, pre-fab metal buildings are constructed using rigid, high-grade steel framing. Metal columns are attached to rafter beams that create the building's framework. The framing is anchored into a concrete foundation every 20-25 feet apart.

Intended Use of the Building

The construction process and materials used to build pole barns make them an excellent option for agricultural buildings and processes, such as storing equipment, livestock, and hay. Property owners can also use them for residential or commercial purposes.

In contrast, pre-fab metal buildings use rigid, high-grade metals, making them versatile and an excellent option for various purposes, such as residential, commercial, industrial, or business.


Constructing pole barns can save you money in the short term, especially during the initial installation. However, they require more frequent maintenance and energy costs, especially if you live in a setting with harsh weather conditions.

On the other hand, property owners can finance pre-fab metal buildings and offer additional benefits like expansion flexibility, reduced installation times, and minimal future maintenance.

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At Hixwood, we empower residential DIYers and professional contractors with the right power tools and construction supplies to ensure excellence in every project. Our commitment to providing superior materials allows us to cater to diverse client and contractor needs, giving them the essential resources that guarantee success.

We're your reliable construction partner for all your project requirements. Contact us today for more information on your next project, and we will help you make it a success.