Tag Archives: headers

Screw Penetration, Truss Carrier Requirements, and Roof Insulation

Today’s Pole Barn Guru answers reader questions about screw penetration into decking/substrate, header aka truss carrier requirements, and a proper roof insulation solution.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Should the screws for exposed fastener metal panel roofing COMPLETELY penetrate the 1/2″ plywood decking/substrate? STEVE in WARREN

DEAR STEVE: For through screws, they should not only completely penetrate any substrate, but also at least an inch into underlying purlins. Relying upon screws into decking only could prove to be a failure looking for a place to happen in a severe wind situation.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: On a 14’ x20’ building with 4×6 post 8’ tall what are the requirements for the header beam or beams? Can I use two 2x10s one out and one inside? TIM in STATE ROAD

Ask The Pole Barn GuruDEAR TIM: Header beam (aka truss carrier) requirements can be determined by a Registered Professional Engineer and are based upon this formula:

(Roof live and dead loads) x (1/2 span of truss + any eave overhang in feet) x (column spacing in feet squared)

Divided by

8 x Sm (Section modulus of proposed beam) x Fb (Fiberstress in bending of proposed beam) x Cd (Duration of Load)

If resultant is less than 1, then beam is okay.

Here is an example, based upon assumption your building is in a minimal snow area, steel roofing over purlins, no or light weight ceiling) columns are every 10 feet, one foot overhangs and available lumber is 2×10 SYP #2

(20 psf + 10 psf) x (14’/2 + 1’) x 10’^2 / 8 x 21.3906 (Sm of a 2×10) x 800 x 1.15 = 0.15 <= 1

For sake of this example, a single 2×10 #2 SYP would be adequate in bending. It may not be adequate for meeting required bearing area (can be confirmed with truss manufacturer).

Beams and connections should also be verified for adequacy against uplift forces, as well as deflection.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m about to build my ‘Miracle Truss’ building which uses steel trusses with lumber purlins/girts. I have a concrete slab with 2″ Styrofoam and radiant heat to provide some warmth in the winter. I’m thinking of using foil/single bubble vapor barrier in between the roof sheeting and wood purlins. In the future I’d like to add bat insulation to the inside of the roof. For the walls I’m not sure if I should use a foil radiant film – non-permeable…or if I should instead use house wrap like ‘Tyvek’. Again, as time and $$ allows I’d like to add bat insulation and maybe OSB half way up the walls. I’d appreciate your professional opinion on how best to ‘wrap’ my building and also ‘future proof’ it in case I happen to win the lottery and can afford to fully insulate it someday. Thank you. RICK in HILLSBORO

DEAR RICK: Code will not allow you to place batt insulation between your purlins unless you have at least an inch of continuous airflow above from eave to ridge. Impossible to do given orientation of roof purlins.

I would use two inches of closed cell spray foam directly to underside of your roof steel. Later, you could fill balance of cavity between purlins with unfaced rock wool, or open cell spray foam. For your walls, use a Weather Resistant Barrier (aka house wrap) and you can add either Kraft faced batts or unfaced batts with a 6mil vapor barrier on the interior at a later date.


Remodel or Not?

Remodel or Build New?

I am as guilty as most – my initial reaction is always to remodel, rather than build new. Even when it makes no practical or economic sense.

Reader JIM in LAWTON is working through one of these situations. He writes: 

“I have a 30 x 40 pole barn 32 years old. I want to take the 4/12 pitch trusses off and add bonus room trusses with a 10/12 pitch and a shingled roof, it is now metal. The new trusses will free span the 30’. My concern is the 4×6 posts holding everything up. They are 8’ on center, 54” down. I met with the building inspector and he inspected the poles and footers on two poles, one on each side of the building. The footers are a concrete block 4x8x16, poles are 4×6. I drove two nails in the two exposed posts 6” and 12” down and the centers didn’t seem soft at all. The building inspector says go ahead and beef up the headers and build up. I don’t want any issues. I am doing the work myself. Do you feel there is anything else I should do to confirm the posts will support the additional weight? The room is going to be an extra bedroom. Anything else meaning contact a structural engineer and pay big bucks for their opinion. Thanks, Jim.”

You are aware your remodel will be more expensive than erecting a brand new building?

Chances are good your existing building was built as a low risk building, if it was engineered and permitted at all. Adding in a bedroom makes it a higher risk building, increasing design loads for both wind and snow. From your limited information provided, your columns will not be large enough, footing diameters will need to be increased, headers (truss carriers) will need to be increased to support probably at least a load twice as much as what was there.

If you do indeed decide to move forward as you suggest, you would be making a grave error to not have an engineer inspect what you have and make recommendations to bring your existing building up to current Code and to be adequate to support your remodeled design.

 Mike the Pole Barn Guru

P.S. Due to shingles’ very short lifespan, I would recommend you go with a steel roof.

Adding a Second Floor to an Existing Pole Building

Adding a Second Floor in an Existing Pole Building

second floorMore than one pole (post frame) building owner has an idea of adding a second floor inside their existing building. Or, they plan a new post frame building with an idea of a future second floor being incorporated.

This apparently simple proposition has no simplicity involved.

Reader RYAN in HAMPSTEAD writes:

“Good morning,I have a 30×40 pole building, and I’m looking to add a partial second floor.  The posts are 8x8s, set at 8′ OC.  I’ve attached a layout for trusses that I received from another vendor, based on specs I provided.  The exact indoor measurement is about 29’11” outside to outside of the 8x8s (to the exterior sheeting).  The distance between the posts is about 28’6″.  So the joists should be field trimmable or around 29’8″ to carry from ledger to ledger.  I do not currently have the ledger/ribbon boards purchased or installed.

The trusses will be clear span, and the total floor space will be 30’x24′ with a cutout for a staircase.  Can you send a quote for this?  The shipping zip is 21074.


Mike the Pole Barn Guru Writes:

Hansen Pole Buildings does not manufacture trusses, so we weren’t able to solve this portion of Ryan’s challenge. However, there are some considerations anyone should consider when looking towards a second floor being inserted in an existing post frame building.

Before moving forward, an EOR (Engineer of Record) should have originally designed your building. This person should be consulted with, as a second floor places a tremendous load upon wall columns and may overload footings (not to mention columns themselves), possibly causing columns to sink. Headers (also known as ledgers/ribbon boards) as well as attachment of floor trusses to them also need to be engineer designed. If somehow an engineer did not design your building, a competent one should be engaged to verify adequacy or design a repair.

Don’t be pennywise and pound foolish when it comes to structural changes involving a second floor, mezzanine or loft – lives you save may be your own, or those of a loved one!