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  1. #1
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    Gravely 16-G

    Default Steel vs. Wood Pole Barn

    Planning to put up a pole barn building (30' x 56'). Even w/ pressure treated posts, will this be a 'permanent' building, or will the posts eventually rot? Obviously, the posts are under cover, but with greatly varying temperatures, humidity, etc. and the fact that they are imbedded in a concrete piling, I am concerned that eventually they will rot. Some pole barn building kits offer additional protection for the posts such as a layer of asphalt, plastic boots over the posts, etc.

    The other alternative would be to go w/ an all steel building (I beams for the columns instead of pressure treated posts). I am in the process of getting a quote but assume that this will be a much more expensive option.

    So, are my concerns w/ pressure treated posts legitimate or not?
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Steel vs. Wood Pole Barn

    Yes eventually they'll rot. How old are you and will you care if they rot in 40 years?

    One other option is a post that comes integrated with a section of steel that's below ground. Can't remember the name but guys post about them quite a bit.
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  3. #3
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    Default Re: Steel vs. Wood Pole Barn

    My pole barn was built by the previous owner about 20 years ago and the poles are starting to rot at the base. I live near the ocean and everything rots or rusts quickly. Steel is generally considered a poor choice here for anything meant to last.

  4. #4
    Veteran Member MikeInEburg's Avatar
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    Default

    I think poles would be less likely to rot if you didn't embed in concrete. Hole with gravel at the bottom, combined with ground contact treated posts should yield 50 years of useful life.

    "As you go through life, make this your goal: watch the donut, not the hole"

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  5. #5
    Silver Member skspurling's Avatar
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    Kubota B2620

    Default Re: Steel vs. Wood Pole Barn

    Quote Originally Posted by MikeInEburg View Post
    I think poles would be less likely to rot if you didn't embed in concrete. Hole with gravel at the bottom, combined with ground contact treated posts should yield 50 years of useful life.
    There are some plastic sleeves that they sell. You place the posts in those and put it in the cement. The other thing would be, how long do you think it will take for the steel to rust? I was watching that show "after humans" where they talk about how long it would take for all our stuff to disappear if we all just vanished one day. Think about this, all that rebar and steel? That's being implanted in a hygroscopic (Correct word?) material, which draws moisture in and holds it in equilibrium with its environment. That stuff is going to rust, and it expands as it rusts. After a shockingly short time, the steel actually leads to the destruction of what it was supposed to strengthen.

    Me? I'm thinking some genius is going to come up with plastic pole barn posts. Hollow blow molded things that require special fasteners. Then code will make their use mandatory.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Steel vs. Wood Pole Barn

    I know a guy that had an older wooden pole bar and the posts started to rot at the ground. He just augered down next to them and scabbed on some new posts. Just saying if you build a wood building and the posts rot,it's a fairly easy fix. What if you build some concrete piers and leave the wood or steel above ground?

  7. #7
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    Kubota L3800

    Default Re: Steel vs. Wood Pole Barn

    I had my pole barn commercially built and they made laminated posts by sandwiching 3 2X6 boards together, treated below ground and untreated above. The factory rep says this has been their best solution to prevent rotting because the preservative never makes it to the center of a 6X6 post but it does penetrate 2X stock. Seems logical to me. They guarantee it anyway.

    When I built my shop at my old house I used 4X poles and coated the lower parts with plastic roof cement before seating them. I figured it wouldn't hurt to try to keep some of the water out. I'm sure it will eventually fail and let water in, but it it lasted 10 years then that's 10 extra years for not much cost or effort.

  8. #8
    Platinum Member Beltzington's Avatar
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    Appling, Georgia
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    JD 3720

    Default Re: Steel vs. Wood Pole Barn

    I've done quite a bit of research into pole barn construction and one thing I found is a product typically called engineered posts. Basically they are laminated 2x6 or 2x8 boards with the below ground section being pressure treated and the above ground untreated wood. This insures full saturation of the treated lumber, with the lighter weight and workability of untreated lumber. Because the 2x* are laminated in a factory environment using special glues and under high pressure some of the brands carry a lifetime grantee against faileure. Add the additional structure strength and non-warping aspects provided by laminates and they seem like the right choice. Unfortunately I am having a hard time locating a retailer in my area.

    http://www.tuff-post.com/engineered-wood-post.html

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Steel vs. Wood Pole Barn

    Quote Originally Posted by Beltzington View Post
    I've done quite a bit of research into pole barn construction and one thing I found is a product typically called engineered posts. Basically they are laminated 2x6 or 2x8 boards with the below ground section being pressure treated and the above ground untreated wood. This insures full saturation of the treated lumber, with the lighter weight and workability of untreated lumber. Because the 2x* are laminated in a factory environment using special glues and under high pressure some of the brands carry a lifetime grantee against faileure. Add the additional structure strength and non-warping aspects provided by laminates and they seem like the right choice. Unfortunately I am having a hard time locating a retailer in my area.

    Tuff-Post - How Our Engineered Wood Pole Building Posts Are Made
    The company that built my barn (Walters) uses mechanical fasteners that are essentially two-sided prong plates to join the boards together. I don't think they use any adhesive. http://waltersbuildings.com/index.ph...d=37&Itemid=59

    I'm getting ready to put up a couple of free standing tower tree stands and a farm shed and I'm 99% sure I'm going to laminate my poles myself rather than use 4X posts. I can easily build 16 ft poles myself, but finding 16 ft 4X4 posts (and hauling them in a 6.5 ft pickup bed) wouldn't be easy.

    I just plan to laminate with 8d galvanized deck nails. I'm currently working on my second keg of them after buying the first sometime in the early 90's. It seems like I've assembled quite a lot of stuff with them over the years and none of it has failed yet.

  10. #10
    Silver Member
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    Cub 2165

    Default Re: Steel vs. Wood Pole Barn

    We used Perma Columns for our barn build. It cost us a little bit extra when we built the barn, but we are young(late 20's) and could possibly see the rotten posts.

    It was like $700 extra on our building kit. It is a 24x32 barn.

    Perma-Column | What are Perma-Columns

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