Pole Barn vs Metal Building: Comparison & Cost Breakdown

A cost breakdown of a gray metal garage with a garage door.

Choosing the right outdoor structure to store equipment, machinery, and agricultural materials often boils down to a battle between pole barn vs. metal building. 

The tried-and-true pole barn has been used since the early 1900s, and the increasingly popular steel building is valued for its durability. 

In this blog post, we’ll delve into the key differences and provide a cost breakdown to help you decide between a pole barn and a steel building for your needs. Let’s explore!

Quick Answer

Metal Buildings vs. Pole Barn: The main differences between a metal building and a pole barn are that a pole barn uses a wood frame while a metal building uses a steel frame. The cost for a metal building is about 15% higher at first but lower insurance premiums, lower maintenance costs, and a longer-lasting building make up the difference – resulting in the metal building being the lower cost option over the long term. The lifespan of the roof on a metal building (standing seam) is more than twice the lifespan of a pole barn (mechanically fastened) roof.

What is a Pole Barn?

A pole barn is a simple-to-build, cost-effective, multifunctional agricultural structure. Typically, a roof and open sides are supported by mostly timber poles that are fixed into the ground. 

Pole barns are renowned for their affordability and adaptability, making them ideal for various storage and shelter needs in farming and beyond.

What is a Metal Building?

Metal buildings are engineered marvels constructed with precision using steel framing components. 

Renowned for their robustness, durability, and resilience in extreme conditions, these structures find widespread application in commercial, industrial, agricultural, and even residential settings. They’re a testament to modern engineering’s strength and versatility.

Pole Barn vs Metal Building: Face-to-Face Comparison

When choosing between a pole barn and a metal building, it’s essential to consider several key factors to make an informed decision. Let’s explore the critical aspects of these two popular outdoor structures.


Pole barns typically employ wooden poles as their primary structural component. While wood is readily available and budget-friendly, it has its limitations. Over time, wood can be susceptible to rot, pests, and decay, which may require periodic maintenance and repairs. However, the rustic charm of wood can be appealing to many.

Metal buildings, on the other hand, are constructed primarily from steel. Steel offers unmatched durability and strength, making it ideal for long-term use. It resists issues like rot and pest infestations that can plague wood structures. This durability translates into lower maintenance costs and a longer lifespan.

Design Limitations

Pole barns have a relatively simple design, with open sides and a basic roof structure. They are highly adaptable for various uses, such as storing equipment, hay, or livestock. However, due to their lack of insulation and finishing options, their design limitations can restrict them from being used for more complex purposes, like workshops or retail spaces.

Metal buildings offer a wider range of design possibilities. With their solid steel frame and customizable options, they can be tailored to suit diverse needs. Whether you require insulation, ventilation, or specific dimensions, metal buildings can accommodate various design preferences and purposes.

Weather Resistance

Pole barns can withstand moderate weather conditions but may not be the best choice for areas prone to extreme weather events. The wooden poles and open sides can expose your stored items to the elements. Pole barns may require additional bracing and reinforcement in regions with heavy snow loads or strong winds.

Metal buildings excel in terms of weather resistance and durability. Their steel construction provides superior strength, ensuring they can withstand severe weather conditions. Proper insulation and roofing choices can also provide a climate-controlled environment, protecting your valuables from temperature extremes.


Maintaining a pole barn typically involves periodic inspections for wood rot, pest infestations, and repairs as needed. The maintenance requirements can increase over time, impacting the overall cost of ownership. Repainting and resealing may also be necessary to prevent wood deterioration.

Metal buildings are low-maintenance structures. Steel is naturally resistant to many issues that affect wood, such as rot and pests. Regular inspections for rust and minor repairs are usually all needed to keep a metal building in excellent condition. This results in lower ongoing maintenance costs and less hassle for the owner.


Pole barns often utilize locally sourced wood, which is considered a sustainable building material. However, the maintenance, repair, and eventual replacement of wood components can result in higher environmental impacts over time.

Metal buildings are increasingly recognized for their sustainability. Many metal building manufacturers use recycled steel in their construction. 

Additionally, their durability and longevity reduce the need for replacement, making them an eco-friendly choice in the long run. Proper insulation and energy-efficient features can also enhance their sustainability by reducing energy consumption.

Pole Barn vs Metal Building: Cost Breakdown

When comparing the costs of pole barns and metal buildings, it’s important to consider factors influencing the overall price. The cost of each type of building can vary based on materials, labor, location, and additional features or customizations. Here’s a general breakdown:

Pole Barns

30×50 Pole Barn

  • Materials: Materials can range from $7,000 to $14,000. 
  • Labor: Labor costs might be around $5,000 to $10,000
  • Total Estimated Cost: Approximately $12,000 to $24,000

40×60 Pole Barn

  • Materials: The materials can cost between $10,000 to $20,000
  • Labor: Labor might range from $7,000 to $15,000
  • Total Estimated Cost: Roughly $17,000 to $35,000

50×100 Pole Barn

  • Materials: Material costs could range from $15,000 to $30,000
  • Labor: Expect labor costs to be about $10,000 to $20,000
  • Total Estimated Cost: Around $25,000 to $50,000

Metal Buildings

30×50 Metal Building

  • Materials: The cost for materials might range from $10,000 to $15,000
  • Labor: Labor can cost from $5,000 to $10,000
  • Total Estimated Cost: Approximately $15,000 to $25,000

40×60 Metal Building

  • Materials: Material costs could be between $14,000 to $22,000
  • Labor: Labor expenses might range from $8,000 to $16,000
  • Total Estimated Cost: Roughly $22,000 to $38,000

50×100 Metal Building

  • Materials: Materials may cost $20,000 to $40,000
  • Labor: Labor costs can range from $15,000 to $30,000
  • Total Estimated Cost: Around $35,000 to $70,000

Metal buildings tend to be more expensive than pole barns, primarily due to the cost of steel compared to wood. However, metal buildings offer benefits like durability and lower maintenance costs, which are important factors in your decision.

Advantages of Bargain Metal Buildings Metal Barn Over Pole Barns

When choosing between a bargain metal building and a traditional pole barn, several compelling advantages make metal barns an attractive option. These advantages include:


Bargain metal buildings are renowned for their exceptional durability. Constructed with high-quality steel, they can withstand harsh weather conditions. 

This durability ensures your assets and investments remain well-protected for years to come.

Low Maintenance 

Metal barns require minimal maintenance compared to pole barns, which can be vulnerable to wood rot and pest infestations. 

With metal barns, there’s no need for frequent painting, sealing, or repairs, resulting in lower maintenance costs and reduced hassle.


Metal barns offer unparalleled versatility. Their solid steel frame and customizable design options suit various applications, from agricultural storage to workshops, commercial spaces, or even residential use. 

Pole barns, with their limited design possibilities, may not match the flexibility of metal buildings.

Energy Efficiency

Bargain metal buildings can be designed with energy-efficient features, including proper insulation and ventilation. This results in lower energy costs over time, making them an eco-friendly and cost-effective choice.

Long-Term Savings

While the upfront cost of metal barns may be slightly higher than pole barns, the long-term savings outweigh the initial investment. 

Reduced maintenance, lower energy bills, and enhanced property value can contribute to significant cost savings over the structure’s life.

Insurance Benefits

Insurance companies often offer reduced premiums for metal buildings due to their durability and resistance to fire and other hazards. This can lead to further cost savings over the years.

Pole Barn vs. Steel Building: Which is Right for You?

When deciding whether to go for a pole barn or a steel building, your choice should align with your specific needs and priorities. 

If you appreciate a pole barn’s classic, rustic appearance or if maintaining a historical aesthetic is essential for your project, a pole barn may be the right choice. Pole barns often feature dirt floors, which can be more suitable if you require a more natural or cost-effective flooring solution than concrete.

If durability, weather resistance, and a structure that can stand the test of time matter to you, a steel building is the way to go. Steel buildings are engineered to withstand extreme weather conditions and offer a longer lifespan.

Steel buildings can provide cost-saving opportunities over time. You can enjoy lower insurance premiums due to their durability, reduced energy costs with proper insulation, and minimal long-term maintenance and repair expenses. 


Choosing between a pole barn and a steel building hinges on your preferences, project requirements, and long-term considerations. Weigh these factors carefully to determine which option best aligns with your needs and objectives.

If you are ready to compare prices for steel buildings, Bargain Metal Buildings can help! Our lets you compare quotes from up to 5 steel building suppliers in your area. Call us now and get started today!