Tag Archives: posts

Elevated Floors, Snow Loads, and Species of Wood in Posts

This week the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about elevated floors, heavy snow loads, and what species of lumber posts are cut from.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We own a site that was fully treed so the soil is not so great. We are interested in doing a pole barn design however a few engineers recommend doing a pier and beam foundation. Do you have details that would allow the house finished floor to be elevated off the soils to create a typical crawl space? JOHN in AZLE

DEAR JOHN: A quick answer would be YES! Post frame (pole) buildings are ideal as homes over a crawl space. For more reading about this subject, please check out: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/crawl-space/.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can the Hansen pole barns be designed/built to 100 or 120 pound snow loads? CHUCK in WALLACE

DEAR CHUCK: Hansen Pole Buildings can be designed for any snow load you desire. Over my career I’ve been involved in many high snow load post frame buildings including ski resorts (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/04/2014-winter-olympics/), in Glacier National Park, and right close to you in Wallace along I-90 – you may be familiar with a large blue building occupied by Spunstrand®.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What species lumber used for the posts 16 feet long? RICH in CHICAGO

DEAR RICH: Further reading regarding popular framing lumber species can be found here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/lumber-species/.

If you are talking about solid sawn timbers, they are most often Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) or Hem-Fir (primarily Western U.S.). With glu-laminated columns, most manufacturers use #1 SYP for pressure preservative treated portions and 1650 msr Spruce-Pine-Fir for uppers. For more information about msr lumber, please read https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/12/machine-graded-lumber/.

 

 

 

 

 

Installing Insulation, Properly Treated Posts, and a Slab Solution

The Pole Barn Guru helps with installing insulation in wet seasons, properly treated posts, as well as a solution to embedded posts when bedrock is present.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello. I am ready to install the insulation and metal on our pole building’s roof. I remember reading how it is important to install the insulation and roof when things are dry as to keep the insulation dry. We have recently moved into a rather wet early fall, and dry weekend days have seemed very illusive.

Do you have any expert ideas or advice that you may be able to offer us? I appreciate all of the very useful help and insight you’ve provided us numerous times already! BRAD in MOUNT VERNON

DEAR BRAD: You want to avoid trapping water between Radiant Reflective Barrier and roof steel, as it can lead to premature deterioration of roof steel.

A helpful hint – in rainy weather only place one run of barrier and if upward surface gets wet, towel dry it and immediately install steel roofing to cover.


Just one reason I now recommend using roof steel with an Integral Condensation Control: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/integral-condensation-control/.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Opinion in using 9” x 25’ class #3 pressure treated utility poles as columns or posts? I have come across a grip of poles in coastal pacific Mexico. Pondering the use of them as my columns/posts in cabin and deck style construction. Their structural and dimensional properties suited for use as such? Thank you. CARL in ZIHUATANEJO

CARL: I personally would not want to use them as level of pressure preservative treating (as well as chemicals used) could very well be iffy at best, toxic at worst. Read more about utility poles in post frame construction here: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/11/used-utility-poles/.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: 26’ x 42’ pole barn planned. We hit rock 6” down. Builder now wants to consider option of to pour the 4” slab first and use post saddles to anchor the posts on top of the slab. He says “This is a good option and results in longer life of the treated posts. Included in this option is additional bracing on each post” Is this really a viable option???

Help! Thank you. VICTORIA in FAIRVIEW

DEAR VICTORIA: Unless your builder can provide engineer sealed plans for your building including his “solution” fire him now because he has no clue.

Why do I say this? A four inch thick concrete slab only will provide inadequate to mount a building to.

In photo of correct bracket below, concrete would need to be deep enough to have rebar entirely embedded in concrete:

 

While a properly pressure preservative treated column will last longer than any of us will be alive to witness, of course if it does not touch ground it eliminates potential of any decay due to ground issues.

Read more here: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/12/attacking-pole-barn-rocks-holes/.

 

“Rafter”Spacing, Old Posts, and Electrical Wiring Solutions

Today the Pole Barn Guru answers questions about “rafter” spacing, how to best dispose of old posts, and where to run electrical wiring.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can I place rafters 48” apart on 24 x 40 pole barn with steel roof? DAVE in BAY CITY

DEAR DAVE: I will interpret your “rafters” to be Midwestern casual term for roof trusses. If so and properly designed to support required loads, trusses could be placed every four feet. In order to support roof steel, purlins would need to be laid either across top of, or joist hung in between roof truss top chords.

You should consult with an RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) who will be providing plans for your building for determination of required loads, purlin spacing and size.

 

Ask The Pole Barn GuruDEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a telephone post fence that I no longer want. How to I dispose of it? It is big and heavy. MINETTE in LUCAS

DEAR MINETTE: Whether large or small challenges, or a question doesn’t even pertain to post frame buildings, I do my best to answer them all and give best possible advice.

I’d start with trying to give it away using Craigslist and/or Facebook – you just might find a taker!

 

DEAR JUSTINE: (Ha ha! Fooled you as reader JAMES questioned Hansen Pole Buildings’ wizardress of all things materials – Justine, who forwarded it to me):

I have a construction question… I need to run wiring in the walls of the pole barn, and I wanted to be sure that drilling through the poles wouldn’t be a problem. I can either run all the wires up into the ‘attic’, then down where they are needed, which wouldn’t require boring holes through the poles, but would use a lot more wire, or I can run horizontally, and bore holes through the poles.

What is the recommended way? Are there limits to how many/large the holes can be?

Thanks. JAMES in LEBANON

DEAR JAMES: An article has been written specifically to address your question: http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/08/electrical-holes/

 

 

 

It’s All About the Posts!

Trimming Posts, A Taller Building, and Post Treatment:

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Trimming posts or adding Shims? My pole barn kit uses steel trusses that sit on top of the posts and bolt to their sides. If I set two or three posts lower than the rest, can I just add a shim the top (using PT plywood or similar) to match the heights of the other posts, rather than cutting the tops of the other seven or eight posts?
How much mismatch is acceptable? Would a 1/4″ difference in the tops of the posts be acceptable or noticeable? MIKE in ORLANDO

Concrete slab in a pole barnDEAR MIKE: I will give you my answers however prior to implementation of anything I advise, you need to be contacting the RDP (Registered Design Professional – architect or engineer) who designed your building and sealed the plans to get his or her approval.
In my humble opinion, using a non-compressible shim in order to make up the difference should be a non-issue.
As to the acceptable mismatch, structurally the ¼” difference will not make a difference, however there is a good chance it will be noticeable to the naked eye, especially along either the eave girt or fascia board. The closer you can get to perfect, the better the result will be and the happier you will be with it.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello guru! We have a project on the way, and were thinking that our building the way it is engineered is going to be too short for our needs. What kind of risks, be it enforcement or safety would we run into if we increased the building height 2′? BRAD

DEAR BRAD: From a practicality standpoint all of your columns will be two feet too short, as will the wall steel. From an engineering standpoint going two feet taller changes the required sizes (dimensions not just lengths) of some of the columns. If you want taller overhead doors, then you have yet another issue.

The risks – safety – you would now be putting up an un-engineered building, which would be under designed for the loads being imposed on it and could collapse, causing injury or even death. Enforcement – if they catch you, you would have to do field modifications to bring the building up to Code.

If you are serious about making it taller, we can work with you to come up with the least expensive fixes and material swaps. The sooner you decide, chances are the less expensive it is going to be, however there would be a non-refundable deposit involved as we are going to put in some serious hours on this whether you decide to go forward or not.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: If PCP is not good for health and longevity on a pole house replacement pole. 2 each at 30’….what treatment do you recommend on a DF pole? JOE in KAILUA

DEAR JOE: If you are using Douglas Fir, then the pressure preservative of choice is ACZA. You could also use ACQ, however it is very corrosive to steel fasteners, so you would want to have products with a very high level of zinc in the galvanization process, or use stainless steel parts.

 

BIB’s Insulation, In-Ground Posts, and Rodents

BIB’s Insulation, In-Ground Posts, and Rodents

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m still in processing with the county to get permits for our new Hansen home building but in the meantime I’m trying to figure out insulation for our raised floor. County requirements (I’m assuming IBC code) requires R30 floor insulation. The building floor design wound up using 2×6 floor joists so I’m trying to figure out how to get R30 worth of insulation in a 2×6 joist cavity? I’m planning on either BIBS or blown/dense pack cellulose for the walls and ceiling and there’s no problem there, but the floor is an issue. I’d rather continue cellulose or BIBS in the floor but I’m not seeing a clear solution( I can do spray foam if absolutely necessary but I’d really rather not). Do you have any suggestions? LONNIE in COLORADO SPRINGS

DEAR LONNIE: I know you have read my blogs, so you know I am a huge fan of BIBs, having used the system in two of my own buildings. I previously have had some qualms about the use of closed cell spray foam insulation, however my physics teacher son had good results with it in the remodel addition to his home, so we used it when we added the elevator shaft to the rear of our own home and I am now a convert. You can get R-30 with as little as four or so inches of closed cell spray foam and it absolutely seals up everything.

 

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I will be building a post and beam barn (40×48 or thereabout) on my property and would like a central loft that I can finish for additional living space. I have been advised that posts concreted into the ground are unlikely to last but I’m a bit concerned about a two story structure with posts bolted to concrete piers… What would you normally recommend? MIKE in LEXINGTON

DEAR MIKE: Whoever is giving you the information about the lifespan of properly (key word being properly) treated pressure preservative treated columns not lasting, knows not what they are talking about.

I personally own three multistory post frame buildings, including our home which has 8000 finished square feet and a roof peak 44 feet above the ground. Every one of them has treated columns in the ground.

While columns bolted to piers will work in most situations, why go to the expense and extra efforts?

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I was wondering if you had any ingenious ideas about how to keep mice coming in from sliding barn doors? We have stuffed steel wool and sprayed foam into the corrugated hollow sections of the walls but they’re still able to come in through the gaping hole under the sliding door.  Any ideas how to resolve that? MELANIE
carport barnDEAR MELANIE: I always warn people who are planning on using sliding doors – as long as you do not mind your neighbor’s cat getting into your building, they are great. No matter what you do with a sliding door, short of affixing it so it will not open, the mice are going to get in. An adult mouse only needs a hole the size of a dime in order to enter your building. By its nature, the sliding door needs to do one thing to function – slide, and in order to slide it has to have space to be able to clear the members which are under it. If your building does not have a concrete slab on grade floor, you could pour a concrete curb across the door opening, however the bottom of the door will still need to be adjusted up high enough to clear the concrete given the fluctuations in expansion and contraction of both the door and the building due to seasonal changes in temperature and humidity.

If you truly want to eliminate the problem, replace the sliding door with an overhead door. In the meantime, it might behoove you to invest in a good barn cat or two.

 

Post Size? Convert to OHD? & Cleaning Dirty Vinyl

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Do you have to use the same size posts on the end walls even if it is non load bearing? so if I use 6×6 posts that hold the trusses can I use smaller lumber on the non load bearing ends?
Thank you. CAMERON in BOISE

DEAR CAMERON: This is why it is essential to invest in a post frame building kit package which includes engineering which is specific to your building. The engineer will specify the minimum size requirements so you do not have to get into guesswork. Most pressure preservative treated timbers in your part of the country are Hem-Fir, which has a very low value in bending once it has been incised. Chances are very small of a 6×6 working to support the interior trusses, unless you have a very short eave height and a protected site.

In direct answer to your question – often the endwall columns can be smaller dimension. This article explains some of the reason why: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/08/lumber-bending/.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We have a pole building that had a 12′ X 12′ slider door that was recently damaged and needs replaced. Can you point me in the direction I need to go to get a replacement. We wanted to replace it with an overhead door but do not have sufficient clearance for our motorhome. JOYCE in FRANKLIN

Figure 27-5

DEAR JOYCE: Replacing a sliding door with an overhead door is no simple task as the opening sizes are completely different. If this is the direction you truly want to pursue, you should start by contracting with a competent local engineer who can evaluate what you have and determine how to best make the structural changes necessary to fit the overhead door into your soon to be remodeled building. Expect this to be an expensive undertaking, even if you are doing the work yourself.

If you decide to just replace the sliding door, visit the ProDesk at your local The Home Depot®, as they should be able to assist you.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I recently purchased a pole building with vinyl insulation that is really dirty. Is there any way to clean the insulation? Can I spray paint it? I’m afraid to get it wet. Let me know your thoughts asap. Thanks LUCILLE in McHENRY

Reflective InsulationDEAR LUCILLE: You are finding one of the reason I personally do not recommend the use of vinyl faced metal building insulation. As long as the insulation has not gotten brittle and cracked, you can wash it with any sort of cleaner which does not react negatively with vinyl. Most folks who get to this point use dishwashing detergent, warm water and a sponge. Take care to not rip the vinyl facing. Any cracks or tears in the facing need to be repaired with a good vinyl repair tape (white duct tape works). I would not suggest power washing, as the force of the high pressure water will probably rip the facing, leaving you with an even bigger mess. Spray painting would not be an option unless the facing has been cleaned, at which point there would be no reason to paint it.

 

History of Pole Buildings: Part III Not Just Grandpa’s Barn Anymore

To wrap up the History of Pole Buildings, the following excerpt was taken from the National Frame Builder’s Association website,  www.nfba.org:

Post Frame Barn

Rural post frame barn building

Countless structures are now erected using post-frame methods, including strip malls, convenience stores, restaurants, office complexes, and many other types of retail, public, commercial and residential applications. Schools, churches, fire stations, airplane hangars, and many other kinds of structures may be erected using post-frame design.

Although for reasons of economy many post-frame buildings were and are externally finished using metal cladding, almost any exterior or interior wall, roof or ceiling finish material may be applied. A wide variety of materials never envisioned by industry forefathers are now routinely incorporated into post-frame design. So many types of materials may be used on the façade, one may easily mistake a post-frame structure for another kind of building. Today it makes little difference whether the building purchaser favors the aesthetics of wood siding, brick or stucco; virtually any look is available in post-frame. New concrete siding materials have even made it possible to build a post-frame building that looks like it was made of cement block, at a fraction of the cost. They are aesthetically pleasing and durable structures that are typically easier on the eye than most commercial buildings.

Since the framing in post-frame buildings can be spaced at modular distances to make finishing the interior a straight-forward process, the post frame building has found increased applications in office, retail, religious, public and recreational buildings. Greater awareness of the potential for post-frame buildings in residential housing has also developed. There are excellent examples of post-frame buildings with upper floors or lofts. Concrete floors are found in most commercial post-frame buildings. In some of these buildings, the posts are supported on a foundation wall or on the concrete slab, eliminating the need for the post embedment.

Pole buildings or “post frame” buildings have come a long way over the years.  They aren’t just “Grampa’s Old Barn” anymore.  Today just about any low rise building can be a pole barn.  Take a look around your neighborhood or even your local business community.  From houses to garages, churches, airplane hangars and shops or stores – a pole barn is a sturdy, and yet cost effective solution to your building needs. Long live the pole barn!