Pole Barn vs Metal Building: What’s the Difference?

When you're considering building a new structure, whether for agricultural, commercial, or personal use, you may find yourself weighing the options between a pole barn and a metal building. Both structures serve similar purposes but differ significantly in construction, durability, cost, and maintenance. Understanding these differences can help you make the best choice for your project.

Construction and Materials

The most noticeable difference between pole barns and metal buildings lies in their construction materials and methods. Pole barns are traditionally constructed with wooden posts (poles) that are buried in the ground or set on concrete footings, which support the roof and exterior walls. These buildings can have a variety of sizes and configurations but are typically made with wood framing and metal or wood siding

Metal buildings, on the other hand, are constructed with steel frames, steel wall and roof panels, and are often pre-engineered and pre-designed. This manufacturing process ensures precise construction with little room for error, resulting in a sturdy and reliable structure. Metal buildings can withstand harsh weather conditions better due to their materials and construction method, making them a durable choice for many applications

Durability and Weather Resistance

When it comes to durability and weather resistance, metal buildings have a clear advantage. They're designed to withstand severe weather, including high winds and heavy snowfalls, without suffering damage. Their steel construction doesn't rot or warp over time, offering a long-term solution with minimal maintenance.

Pole barns, while sturdy, are susceptible to weather-related issues such as rot and pest infestations due to their wooden construction. However, advancements in wood treatment have improved their resistance to such problems, and when properly maintained, pole barns can still offer significant longevity.

Cost and Maintenance

Initial costs for pole barns tend to be lower than those for metal buildings, making them an attractive option for budget-conscious individuals. The simplicity of their design and the materials used can result in faster construction times and lower labor costs. However, the long-term maintenance of wood structures can add up, as they may require more upkeep to protect against elements and pests.

Metal buildings, while initially more expensive due to their materials and the need for a concrete foundation, offer significant long-term savings. Their durability and resistance to weather and pests mean less maintenance and repair costs over time. The steel used in metal buildings is often recyclable, adding an eco-friendly advantage to their construction.

Design and Customization

Both pole barns and metal buildings offer a degree of customization to meet specific needs. Pole barns provide flexibility in terms of interior design, as the space between the poles can be adjusted without affecting the structure's stability. This makes them suitable for various applications, from agricultural storage to commercial spaces.

Metal buildings, however, offer more in terms of durability and customization due to their construction. The steel frame allows for larger clear spans, providing vast open spaces without the need for interior support columns. This makes metal buildings ideal for warehouses, aircraft hangars, and other applications requiring large, uninterrupted interior spaces.


Both building types have sustainable features. Pole barns utilize wood, a renewable resource, and can be constructed with minimal impact on the land. Metal buildings are often made from recycled materials and can be recycled again at the end of their lifespan, reducing waste.

Which is Right for You?

Choosing between a pole barn and a metal building comes down to your specific needs, budget, and long-term goals. If initial cost and traditional appearance are significant factors, a pole barn might be the right choice. For those prioritizing durability, low maintenance, and sustainability, metal buildings could offer the best solution.

Each option has its advantages, and understanding these can help you make an informed decision that aligns with your project requirements. Consider factors like the intended use of the building, local weather conditions, and long-term maintenance costs when deciding between a pole barn and a metal building.

If you'd like to learn more about metal building options, be sure to reach out to us. Butler MFG Parts is a subsidiary of MAR Building Solutions, a Butler Builder. We're experts in the space and are happy to answer any questions you have.