Pole Barn vs. Post Frame Building

Just like Olympic boxing, in one corner is “pole barn” and in the other “post frame building”. Nothing too amazing about this….until one delves in and finds out they are actually two terms commonly used for the same thing.

red pole barnThe original pole barns, utilized round posts – basically trees, old power poles or similar. As they were round and they main structural supports, the term pole barn stuck.

I first began providing pole barn material kit packages over three decades ago. The first time I had ever heard the term “post frame building” was after I had stumbled upon the National Frame Builders Association (NFBA), over 25 years ago.

Even then, builders had deemed the term “pole barn” to have a negative connotation. It was felt pole barn relegated the industry to only farm buildings.

Today’s modern post frame building is anything but merely a farm building. Designed with cutting edge technology, it is widely regarded as the most efficient approach to most of today’s modern building requirements.  Pole barns can be anything any other “stick built” structure can be – and even more.  Anything from barns and arenas, to storage, sheds, airplane hangars, and yes, houses and churches too.  Take a look at some of the pictures on the Hansen Pole Buildings Website.  Can you tell what type of framing is used?

It is difficult to change general public knowledge and overall reactions when they hear the word “pole building.” You will often hear me say, “Pole Buildings fly under the radar.”  Just a few years ago, my wife and I were at a conference where the leaders encouraged us to “network”.  The goal was to go around the room, introduce yourself and state the name of your company. Then we were to share “what does or doesn’t work” for our company.  My wife and I soon huddled in the corner and decided we’d leave the word “pole” out of our name when we introduced ourselves.  Invariably, I’d barely eke out, “Hi, I’m Mike from Hansen Pole Buildings…” and was met with a confused stare, along with interrupting comments of “Pole…you mean like telephone poles?”  Um…no.  To date, we use both names for our company – depending on where we are and who we are talking to.

At Hansen Buildings, we examine trends for terms people use when doing internet searches. What really matters is not what we, or our industry, want to use as a moniker – it is the public. Hands down, the general population picks “pole barn”. Pole building is a distant second.

And what about “post frame”? After all of the efforts made by the industry and the NFBA, rarely does anyone search for a post frame building!  Take your pick, but whatever term you use, we know exactly what you are talking about.

4 thoughts on “Pole Barn vs. Post Frame Building

  1. My uncle has a lot of things that he wants to accomplish these days, and his main focus right now is his farmhouse because he needs to store a lot of his crops in a durable shelter. It’s great to know that post frame buildings are designed with cutting-edge technology and how it is one of the most efficient ways for modern building requirements. I will make sure that my uncle knows about this so that he chooses this type for his farmhouse. Thanks!

    1. admin Post author

      Thank you Millie!
      And please have him reach out to our Building Design team at 866-200-9657 and we will be happy to assist him with his farmhouse.

  2. I appreciate what you said about original pole barns utilizing round posts. Pole barns seem to be structurally sound, and they area aesthetically pleasant. If I were to construct such an edifice, I would hire a reliable construction company that knew the ins and outs of pole barns.

    1. Would you recommend the post frame building company based in Illinois who hired you to place this post? They are not NFBA members, which is unfortunate as many potential clients look to NFBA members as being not only more reliable, but also having a deeper interest in their industry.


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