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What’s a Pole Barn?

Pole Barn History

Today’s pole barns are built with materials specifically designed to make building a post-frame structure fast, economical, and safe, but it wasn’t always that way!

Pole building design was pioneered in the 1930s in the United States, originally using utility poles for horse barns and agricultural buildings. The depressed value of agricultural products in the 1920s and 1930s and the emergence of large, corporate farming in the 1930s created a demand for larger, cheaper agricultural buildings. 

For modern pole barns, dedicated materials such as pole barn nails and posts were developed specifically for this type of construction, making the process more affordable and reliable. Almost any low-rise structure can be quickly built using the post-frame construction method.


The poles from which these buildings get their name are natural shaped or round wooden timbers 4 to 12 inches (102 to 305 mm) in diameter. The structural frame of a pole building is made of tree trunks, utility poles, engineered lumber or chemically pressure treated squared timbers which may be buried in the ground or anchored to a concrete slab.

Generally, the posts are evenly spaced 8 to 12 feet (2.44 to 3.66 m) apart except to allow for doors. Buried posts have the benefit of providing lateral stability so no braces are needed. Buried posts may be driven into the ground or set in holes then filled with soil, crushed stone, or concrete.