Tag Archives: polycarbonate panels

Tyvek, Truss Attachments, and Polycarbonate Panels

Continuing to play catch-up with the Pole Barn Guru reader questions, Mike answers questions about adding Tyvek under wall steel, attaching trusses to header on sealed plans, and the use of polycarbonate panels for use on post frame building.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: About to start the build of a 36 x 50 pole barn. Should I add a Tyvek or a “Block-IT” type material under the metal on the walls? I don’t know if I will ever finish the inside (maybe?) but where we live we get a ton of dust from farm fields etc. in the spring and winter before crops, and I am thinking that some type of material might help with drafts and dust. Seems quick and cheap to add now. Seems like everyone is squarely divided on yes/no. Thank you. MIKE in FREELAND

DEAR MIKE: Only reason to not have a Weather Resistant Barrier between your wall steel and framing would be if you were going to use closed cell spray foam insulation (in which case it should be applied directly to wall steel inside). It is so much easier to install now, than to wish you had done so after your building is completed.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My pole barn plans (architect designed & engineer stamped) show a double 2×12 header bolted into the notched top of the pole frame. Can the trusses sit directly on the top of the headers or should I put a typical double top plate on top of the headers (not shown on the plans). DAVE in PEYTON

Engineer sealed pole barnDEAR DAVE: You should erect your building exactly as shown on your engineer sealed plans, otherwise you have relieved your Engineer of Record of any responsibility for structural adequacy. Should you feel adding a top plate or plates to be necessary, please reach out to your engineer for clarification and a possible addendum to your plans.


DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Are some kind of translucent panels an option for pole barn roofing or siding? Similar to UPS Truck roof. Natural lighting. THOMAS in CHICAGO

post frame garageDEAR THOMAS: Polycarbonate panels may be used to provide natural lighting inside of non-insulated post frame buildings. In my opinion (as well as those of others) translucent panels should not be used in roof plane for a variety of reasons (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/one-more-reason-to-not-use-skylights-in-steel-roofs/). They can be successfully used at top of one or both eave sidewalls or on triangles supported by end trusses.

Photos: https://hansenpolebuildings.com/uploads/polebarnquestions/cde6e9e0628de407178fc59261af7f68.jpeg


Skylights in Barn You Built for Us Need Replacing

Skylights in Barn You Built for us Need Replacing

Reader MICHELLE in ASTORIA writes:

“Hello! You built our barn located in Astoria, Oregon. The sky lights that were installed now need to be replaced. My husband called and was told you’d get back to us with no response. We are hoping to either hire you or to buy the sky lights through you. We look forward to hearing from you.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

You are now finding out why Hansen Pole Buildings does not provide post frame buildings with skylights – they will fail. 

A request we receive frequently is for skylights to be installed in our post frame buildings’ steel covered roofs.

My first thoughts go back to a building I worked inside of over a winter 40 years ago. About 20 years old, this building had a steel roof with numerous fiberglass (actually Fiberglass Reinforced Plastic or FRP) panels. These panels were designed and placed with an intent of allowing natural light into this very large building. Operative word here being “were”.

FRP panels are strong mold-resistant sheets. Over time glazed pigmented seal applied during manufacturing processes can crack causing structural breakdown of fiberglass resin by weathering. On this particular building, these skylights had deteriorated to a less than lovely yellow color, allowing very little light transmission. Lateral loads being transferred through roofing from wind had elongated screw holes, causing numerous roof leaks.

Brittleness over time is another issue with FRP. At my first truss manufacturing plant, we constructed a new building in 1982, with FRP panels at the south facing sidewall top. Our idea was to be able to gain natural lighting. Within a matter of just a few years, these panels had yellowed and become brittle. Local kids, out for “fun” were even throwing rocks through them!

Available technologies have improved. For use in post frame buildings, most instances where FRP panels would have been used, is now being done by polycarbonates.

Polycarbonate panels are designed specifically to match up to metal panel profiles. With a high performance glazing, standing up to punishing exterior applications, Polycarbonate panels offer multiple advantages over traditional FRP panels: up to 20 times greater impact resistance, highest light transmission rates, lowest yellowing index, highest load rating, and highest resistance to wind uplift-outstanding properties confirmed in accredited laboratory testing and in installations worldwide since 1984. Polycarbonate panels are virtually unbreakable, they self-extinguish if exposed to flame, are hail resistant and are Underwriters Laboratory (UL) 580 Class 90 recognized.

Polycarbonate roof panels are normally used as in-plane translucent panels and are used with steel panels. Instead, we recommend these skylights be used in walls as eave lights to allow light into buildings and to prevent anyone from walking on and falling through these panels.

If you are really planning on using polycarbonate roof panels, then you cannot insulate your roof in these areas, or you will block all sunlight. Roof areas without a good vapor barrier are prone to condensation issues as well. You’ll also have to take some precautions about thermal movement. Polycarbonate panels do expand and contract much more than steel panels and they are much weaker and deflect more.

We’ve had an engineer perform full scale testing of steel panels similar to what is used on your new Hansen Pole Building (our tests were performed using thinner 30 gauge steel). These tests resulted in shear values for these panels being published in National Frame Builders Association’s (NFBA) Post-Frame Building Design Manual. With a minimum allowable shear strength of 110 pounds per lineal foot, this steel is virtually identical in strength to 7/16” oriented strand board (osb) installed in an unblocked diaphragm (no blocking at seams between sheets of osb).

Properly installed steel roofing, has shear strength to be able to transfer loads induced by wind or seismic forces across roofs, through building endwalls, to ground. Herein lies an issue with light panels (either FRP or Polycarbonate).  They have no shear strength. In adding light panels, a roof’s structural integrity could be compromised. Under lateral loads, panels could fracture or buckle, or the building frame itself could be overstressed.

We at Hansen Buildings searched our database and could not find Michelle, or her email address, in it. Turns out (to no surprise) we did not construct her building (or anyone’s building as we are not contractors) and she is off in search of her actual builder!

Job Site Storage of Polycarbonate Panels

Polycarbonate panels to be used for eave and/or gable end triangle “lighting” or ridge caps should not be used within living areas of post frame homes and barndominiums. They do often afford a cost effective method of getting natural lighting into accessory areas such as unheated shops and garages, barns and equipment storage buildings.

Recommended storage procedure for Polycarbonate panels (eave or ridge lights):

Store panels horizontally, on flat sturdy pallets, equal or longer than longest panels. Stack short panels on top.

Store polycarbonate panels in a cool and shaded place, avoiding direct sunlight, ideally indoors in a cool, dry, well-ventilated area. Avoid covering panel stack with dark or heat-absorbing materials or objects, to prevent solar heat buildup. When stored on skids, stack panels no more than 250 pieces on a skid. Avoid double stacked skids, or stacking anything atop panels. Prevent moisture from collecting on or between panels.

When necessary to store panels outdoors, cover stack with a white opaque polyethylene sheet, corrugated cardboard or other materials not absorbing or conducting heat. Verify entire stack is covered.

Polycarbonate panels are tough, requiring no special care. We recommend some cautionary steps: avoid stepping on or driving over the panels while on the ground, or folding during handling and installation. Avoid dragging panels on the ground, scraping against structural elements or any other sharp or rough objects, to keep from getting scratched.

Polycarbonate panels are resistant to a variety of chemicals and exhibit limited resistance to a second chemical group. A third chemical group may attack and damage panels. Damage degree and severity depend upon chemical type and exposure duration. Polycarbonate panels will melt down at approximately 400 degrees F.

In today’s as well as most recent four previous articles I have covered how to protect your valuable investment’s materials prior to assembly. All of this information and more is a portion of Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual – nearly 500 step-by-step pages to guide do-it-yourselfers and construction professionals to successfully completion of every post frame project.

Ready to stop pondering and start your journey to a happy new post frame building? Call Hansen Pole Buildings today 1(866)200-9657 to speak to a Building Designer.

Dear Pole Barn Guru: Can I Get Perma-Columns?

Welcome to 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 or Saturday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can you supply buildings with perma-columns? Our soil conditions will not be a good combination with standard poles. Could I add that to a quote request if they are available?

Thanks. THOMAS

DEAR THOMAS: We can, yes – however they still require a poured concrete footing beneath. Our normal design back fills the bottom portion of the hole with poured concrete as well – providing the same bearing area as the perma-columns would.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I use my barn as a dog kennel. I have 4 dog runs. My male urinates on the exterior wall which has caused rust on about the bottom 3-4 inches. What can I do to cover this and prevent? Is there a synthetic PVC panel that will fit over my tin that will cover the rust spot and prevent future rust? I have seen roofing sheets that are plastic and clear. Would one of these in color work? Do they make them? I only need to cover about 2-3 feet high since he can’t hike his leg higher than that!

Or would old fashioned galvanized be better? With no paint. Not sure how much more rust resistant it would be. ORNERY IN OHIO

DEAR ORNERY: It sounds like you need to either remove the dog from where he can get

at the panels, or replace the portion of the panels he is urinating on.

There are polycarbonate panels which should do the trick, they are opaque white, come in three foot lengths and match the profile of the wall steel. These will also require a flashing to be dded between them and the wall steel above.

Plain galvanized is going to rust also – and it does not have the added protection afforded by the paint

Polycarbonate versus Acrylic Eave Lights

Once again, we do the research, so you don’t have to!

My loyal readers will recognize I have researched some things which maybe no one will ever care about. From my perspective – if it makes a difference to even one person, then it was worth the work.

eave lightsRecently one of our clients asked for a comparison between a Hansen Pole Building, and building produced by another provider. In doing the research to be able to give the client a qualified answer, I did come across a product which I was not familiar with – Acrylit®. Acrylit is a panel which is manufactured with 100% Acrylic resin with Gel Coat protection on both sides. Acrylit panels can be used for eave and ridge lights – which allow for natural light to enter pole buildings which do not have interior finished walls or ceilings.

For more information on eave lights: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/07/eave-light/

Hansen Pole Buildings provides CoverLite® Polycarbonate panels for use as eave lights. These panels offer a high degree of light transmittance due to its high optical properties, with up to 90% light transmission. They are economical and light weight, yet 10 times stronger than acrylic and 200 times stronger than glass! CoverLite comes with a full 10 year warranty against yellowing and a five year warranty against breakage caused by hail.

In discussions with AmeriLux (the manufacturer of CoverLite), it was found Coverlite Solar Grade Polycarbonate Corrugated will not undergo a loss in light transmission in excess of 15 (fifteen) percent in comparison with the original value when tested in accordance with ASTM D 1003 (95); will not undergo a change in excess of 15 (fifteen) delta in comparison with the original value when tested in accordance with ASTM E 313-73.

I actually read the ASTM standards referenced, and you can read ASTM D 1003 here: https://www.astm.org/Standards/D1003.htm

ASTM E313-73 Is the “Standard Test Method for Indexes of Whiteness and Yellowness of Near-White, Opaque Materials”

What really caught my attention was: Acrylic will burn/melt rather than self-extinguish like polycarbonate would.

There are lots of fires in pole buildings, adding a product which will contribute to a burn does not sound like a prudent choice to me. Add this to polycarbonate being ten times as strong as acrylic panels, and we’ve got a hands down winner!

Oh, and did I mention acrylic is more expensive? For those who care only about cost, it’s a no brainer.