Dear Pole Barn Guru: How to Clean a Steel Roof?

How to Clean a Steel Roof

Welcome to our newest feature: Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment. 

Email all questions to:

The first question today is from a client who purchased a building “a few years back” from Hansen Pole Buildings…


DEAR POLE BARN GURU ~ It’s been a long time.  I must say that the building has worked out very well.   No problems at all, just a single leak at one screw on the roof that I will repair this weekend.  I assume that removing and replacing the screw will work.  Should I put some sealant on the screw? My other question is that I have moss starting to develop on the roof and it has become a bit dirty over the years.  What is the best way how to clean a steel roof?



DEAR JEFF ~        

Usually a leak occurs because the screw has not been driven straight into the purlin, it is not fully “seated”, or it has caught just the side of a purlin. It is best to first try to determine which of these is your particular case. If there is no wood deterioration below the screw hole, the same screw can normally be reused. You may want to place some sealant in the screw hole, not on top of the roof steel, or on top of the screw itself. If wood deterioration has occurred, you are best to replace the screw with one of a larger diameter.

To maintain original building panel finish, the only regular maintenance necessary to clean a steel roof is an annual washing. Remove airborne dirt and weather-related streaks with a garden hose or pressure washer and a bucket of sudsy water.  If rinsed frequently, a garden hose may be all which will be needed to use.

Light panels may be washed with either mild detergent-type cleaners or by steam and high pressure spray systems. Apply cleaners with sponge or soft brush and rinse thoroughly in cold water to eliminate cleaning agent film build-up. Follow cleaning agent manufacturer’s instructions. Test small area before applying over entire surface. Hard water deposits may be removed with a 10% acetic acid solution in cold water. Rinse thoroughly. 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is it normally cheaper to build a building long and narrow, but single story 30’x90′ or is it cheaper to build a building roughly 50’x50′ but, two stories including a basement with tuck under garage?  Which is the cheaper shape to build?  Is the eave light panel cheaper than windows?  Or is it cheaper all together to have a detached garage?

Sorry for all the questions… We are looking at buying an older house in our price range but they are on the market for about 5 days with multiple offers.  We have started looking at buying a cheaper lot and putting cheaper/reasonable house on it.  I am a drafter by trade and have numerous plan books.  We know what we want, just don’t know what styles or designs are cheapest.

Does Hansen Pole Building kits just include the exterior?  If our primary use is a residential home, would we have to finish the inside ourselves and cost above and beyond the shell cost, or does your cost include the shell plus interior finishes.  We know where we want to spend money and we know where we want to save.

Thanks any info helps. DEREK

DEAR DEREK: In post frame (pole) building construction, single story will always be less expensive than multi-floor. Buildings closer to square, will be slightly more cost effective than those which are long and narrow. And, as long and narrow becomes very long and very narrow, closer to square is even more cost effective. While polycarbonate eave lights are far less expensive than windows, they have next to no resistance against heat loss, so are not very effective for residential construction. Attached garage will be more affordable or convenient than detached.

Hansen Pole Building kit packages include structural elements – you would need to add non-load bearing interior walls & finishing.


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