Tag Archives: pole barn doors

Let’s Cram Doors into an Endwall

There seems to be a propensity for potential new post frame building owners to attempt to put too many doors in a wall. While usually the challenge is trying to get too tall of a door to fit, in today’s article we will discuss too much width of doors.

Please picture this, if you will – a nice two car garage 24 feet in width. Now in my simple mind, I would be recommending either two 10 foot wide doors, or better yet, a single 18 foot wide overhead door. Why the 18 foot wide door? Because it gets rid of a post or post between doors which can become a potential target (especially for young drivers – sidebar to come) and it places the edges of the door (of centered on the wall) three feet from each corner, allowing for adequate use of the adjacent wall space.

Sidebar story – when our youngest daughter Allison was learning to drive she attempted to park our Chevrolet Tahoe in the left hand door of our garage. Due to space limitations, our garage has two nine foot wide overhead doors. Well, as fate would have it, Allie clipped the post between the doors with the mirror. Luckily, the Tahoe has those slick “fold back” mirrors. Unluckily, the mirror picked this day to not fold back and said Tahoe thereafter sported a nifty dent in the passenger side door.

Back to matters at hand….

Well aforementioned client wants two nine foot width overhead doors, just like my own garage at home. The trick is, he also wanted to place a three foot width entry door in the same wall.

To begin with, my opinion is a three foot wide entry door is just not adequate in width (are you noticing a pattern of me recommending wider doors?). I have previously expounded profusely on this very subject: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/08/four-foot-entry-doors/.

Anyhow, we now have 21 feet of doors in this client’s 24 foot wall. The center of the wall located three foot entry door takes 3’2-5/8” between posts. Each post takes up 5-1/2 inches so we have now chewed up 4’1-5/8” of wall. Each overhead door takes 9’1” between the columns to allow for the jambs on each side. Now 22’3-5/8” has been used up. At each corner we have a corner column and the column to mount the overhead doors to (can’t mount to the corner column as the sidewall girts are attached to the rear of them). These two columns at each corner take up 11 inches each. Grand total for those playing along is 24’1-5/8”!!

By narrowing each overhead door opening by 13/16” everything sold does fit, but in my mind it was a far less than ideal solution. With the overhead doors basically right against the sidewalls neither one is going to be able to be utilized for work benches or even hanging or leaning things against the walls.

Several things could have been done to improve the situation, however I will pick my top two choices.

Assuming the client was really excited about having the entry door centrally located on the endwall, increasing the building width to say 28 feet would have freed up the wall space which will sorely be missed. Even better would have been 30 feet in width with ten foot wide overhead doors.

My second choice, if 24 feet in width is all which will fit on the property, would have been a single 18 foot wide overhead door in the center of the endwall, and placing a four foot wide entry door around the corner on a sidewall.

Yes, either of these would have added slightly to the investment, but most importantly they would have multiplied the usefulness of the building for generations yet to come.

Should You Choose Sliding or Overhead Doors for Your Pole Barn?

Overhead door pole barnOne of the many decisions you’ll need to make when choosing a customized pole barn is the door type. You can opt for either an overhead door that raises up or a sliding door that pushes from left to right (or vice versa) – so what’s the better choice?

The sliding versus overhead door decision really comes down to what you plan to do with your pole barn. If you’re going to use it for purely agricultural purposes, a sliding door (or multiple sliding doors) can be a good option. However, if you’re planning a commercial or residential use pole barn, we recommend an overhead door.

Sliding Doors for Agricultural Applications

Pole barn sliding doors have long been the most popular choice for agricultural buildings, machinery workshops, and airplane hangars. This exterior door type works well for oversized equipment (such as combines, farm trucks, and airplanes) that wouldn’t be able to fit through a standard overhead door. Having sliding doors in your pole barn also gives you more interior clearance, since you don’t have to worry about installing overhead door tracks.

In addition to being used for machinery storage buildings, sliding doors are also sometimes used on horse barns, since they are cheaper than Dutch doors. Modern sliding door tracks are also incredibly low maintenance, since they’re designed to be self-aligning, self-cleaning, and self-lubricating.

Steel sliding doors are designed to stand up to just about anything you throw at them, including bad weather, animal contact, and even accidental machinery contact. That being said, they don’t create as tight a seal as an overhead door and aren’t as secure against theft. This is why we typically only recommend sliding doors for pole barns that will be used for purely agricultural purposes.

Overhead Doors for Residential and Commercial Use

When it comes to non-agricultural pole barn uses, overhead doors are usually your best bet. Overhead doors create a tighter seal, which protects against both theft and the elements. Unlike sliding doors, overhead doors can also be outfitted with electronic openers. If you plan to use your pole building as a garage and you ever find yourself in a situation where you’re driving home in the rain or snow, you’ll probably be pretty happy to be able to open the door with the click of a button rather than getting out and pushing it open manually.

While some people worry that overhead pole barn doors will be considerably more expensive than sliding doors, the smaller sizes are actually comparable. Larger overhead doors may be slightly more expensive, but many pole building owners decide that the slightly higher cost is worth the added security and convenience.

Overhead doors can also be designed to accommodate fairly large vehicles and equipment. Commercial overhead doors come standard up to 24’ in width, and 26’ or 28’ wide doors are available, but require a special manufacturer’s quotation. Standard overhead doors are 14’ tall, which is high enough to accommodate any vehicle of highway legal height.

Still Not Sure What Door to Choose?

If you’re still not sure what type of door to choose for your pole building, contact us directly. Let us know how you plan to use your pole building, and we’ll make a recommendation and even provide you with a free building quote.

An Overhead Door Rant

While I am on an Overhead Door Rant

I have been blessed to be the father of a herd of children – my youngest two, Allison (age 22) and Brent (age 21) will both be seniors in college this Fall.

Yes, I am hearing the cheers from loyal readers who have reached this milestone. They understand what it means to survive as a parent until the birds have actually reached maturity!

dog-ear-overhead-door-150x150Many years ago, their mother and I decided going our own way would probably be the best outcome, and so part we did.

Now their mother often had some ideas of her own, and after leaving she decided it would be possibly wonderful to live in a new house.

Trying to be both civil and helpful, I reminded her of my having just a little bit of construction background and knowledge. I offered my services to her, for free – I suggested if she was to make an offer on a house, to have it be subject to my being able to inspect it for anything which might pose a challenge.

It seems she was intent upon listening to me as well when we were apart, as she had when we were together (funny how this works). She went ahead and invested in a new home without the benefit of my watchful eye.

Well Karma, she can be a vengeful sort.

The first time I went over to her new house to pick up my then small children, I noticed her Chevrolet Suburban parked in the driveway.

For those of you who enjoy Parker Brothers’ (now part of Hasbro) Trivial Pursuit™ someday it might prove important to know the Suburban is the longest continuous use automobile nameplate in production, beginning in 1935!

More importantly –  my former spouse’s Suburban was wide, very wide. Even with the rearview mirrors folded back on both sides, it would not comfortably fit through the eight foot wide doors on the garage of her new house!

My cautionary tale as a result of this experience would be to not ever plan upon getting a vehicle safely through an eight foot wide overhead door. Nine foot wide should be the minimum width to be considered, for any vehicle. And 10 foot width is even better.

Moral of the story: one good door ding is far more expensive than the relatively small investment in a wider overhead door!

Pole Building Door Safety

Don’t be the Next Break In

Sometimes the story is not the story and the misfortunes of others can be a lesson.

In this morning’s news:

“Police are seeking information about a break-in at a Wexford County, Michigan pole barn.

The incident occurred Monday on Boon Road in Haring Township. A side door to the barn had been pried open, according to police.

A large gun safe containing four firearms was taken from the pole barn. The firearms included a .22 caliber rifle, a .357 caliber revolver and a shotgun. The safe also contained a large amount of silver 50 cent pieces.”

In general, for most people, the concept behind owning a new pole (post frame) building is to protect possessions of value. We have stuff which we want to keep from being damaged by the elements or permanently borrowed.

The morning news (above) gives just one of many examples of a case of a permanent borrow.

There are ways to minimize the potential for your new building being the next break in which appears in the news –

We are as yet unaware of a case where anyone has pried open a sectional overhead door to gain access for burglary. Even the best of sliding doors are subject to being able to be pried open. It is just the nature of the beast. Sliding doors (by their very name) need to be able to roll open past the adjacent sliding. When closed, this affords points which can be levered open – even when securely latched from the inside.

Commercial Grade Entry DoorEntry doors…..

This is where I see more penny wise and pound foolishness than anywhere else in building (today’s near worthless trivia – while this phrase is often attributed to Ben Franklin, credit is more aptly given to one-time Secretary to the Treasury of Great Britain William Lowndes).

How about saving a few of those Ben Franklins by picking up a basic entry door at your local hardware store for around $130?

While I am sure this is an excellent buy, if I am a burglar, I will spend about two seconds kicking this pole building door in as the wood jamb breaks. The upfront savings of a person door such as this, will not probably cover the deductible from your insurance when you are burglarized.

Commercial steel entry doors, with steel jambs don’t make it impossible to break in, but they certainly make a burglar think twice before they even try.

Please – if you listen to nothing else I have to say – when planning a new pole building door, plan to order doors which at least will keep the honest people honest.

Exterior Horse Stall Doors

Our oldest daughter Bailey gets mentioned pretty much in most articles I write which include horses. As a National Champion as both a rider and a trainer, she has seen plenty of horse barns.

As a teenager, she mucked stalls – at the facility she worked at, they had over 40 of them. None of these had horse stall doors other than into the aisleways.

There are some advantages to having exterior doors from horse stalls.

The one thing people usually do wrong in planning stalls, is door locations. Watch where horses predominately stand and lay in stalls. Other than when they are being social, or feeding time, they will generally not stand in a traffic lane (the area between inside doors to aisles and exterior doors). Horse stall doors are best located directly in line with each other – it keeps horses from being “trapped” into corners.

And how about the exterior doors themselves?

Here, the cheapest solution is probably not going to be the best. Life tends to work this way, doesn’t it?.

When I had my first business, we used to manufacture cheap dutch doors for horse stalls. Starting with a four foot by eight foot sheet of ¾ inch thick CDX plywood, we created two four foot squares of 2×6 on one face. In each square we would then place 2x4s to create an “X” for cross bucks. All the lumber was securely nailed through the plywood. Brand new, they looked great, and along with four hinges, we could sell them for under $100 each.

horse stall safetySome guarantees came with horse stall doors – if they were not sealed and the exterior kept painted, they would quickly warp and twist. Guarantee #2 was your 1000# plus horse would lean into them and destroy them, or eat them. And the last guarantee was you would be back within two years to buy replacement doors!

Seriously, the most practical and least expensive exterior horse stall door solution is with a four foot wide by either seven or eight foot tall sliding door. Constructed with a metal framework, they will be lightweight, yet won’t warp or twist. They can be insulated by placing 1-1/2” thick sheets of high R Styrofoam between the girts. To protect the inside, screw on a sheet of 7/16” thick OSB (oriented strand board) or ½” CDX plywood.

With sliding doors, gates can be added to the door openings, so the sliding doors can be left open in fair weather and horses which are confined to their stalls can look at the outside world.

For those who like the Dutch Doors – I always recommend going with the best. Pre-manufactured metal doors in heavy gauge steel jambs are both expensive and worth the price.

Some advantages of exterior horse stall doors:

1. Fire safety – fires do occur in stall barns, especially if wiring is not placed in conduits and hay is stored in the building. It is much easier to get a horse out of a stall through an exterior door, than having to lead them through a smoke filled aisleway (and safer for the horse owner).

2. Sadly, horses die. Having to maneuver a tractor or skid loader down an aisle to remove a dead horse is not for the faint of heart.

3. When opened, horses can freely move between paddocks, and the stall becomes more of a “run in”.

4. With the doors open, stalls dry out much quicker, and with the added ventilation horse health is improved.

A building design consideration when exterior stall doors are being located on a sidewall (the eave side where the rain and/or snow comes off the roof), is to have adequate overhangs. A good overhang can be designed for ventilation (which is lacking in most horse barns) and can keep weather from coming in through or under the doors. Don’t be afraid to go to even two foot overhangs. Most of the cost is in deciding to have an overhang at all, so going a little wider is not going to break your bank.