What is a Pole Building?

A time tested, economical building system.

Post-frame buildings, more commonly referred to as "pole buildings", are durable buildings that provide a quick construction process. In comparison to the more commonly known "stick frame" building process, post-frame buildings differ in a few ways. 


Read on below for details.

The biggest difference? They're cheaper!

Well, more affordable than typical stick-built structures anyways. Pole building construction techniques were originally developed to use fewer materials that were more economical to begin with. Constructing a building with these techniques translates to an affordable building crafted with time-tested, proven methods.

So, what makes a pole building a pole building?

No foundation required

Posts set in concrete

Wall framing is horizontal

Endwall framing detail

Metal siding is common

Endwall with metal

Concrete floors are optional


No concrete foundation required

The foundation of a post-frame building is actually in the posts, which are placed at each corner of the building, and then around the building in certain spacings, usually 10' - 12' apart. The fact that a standard concrete foundation isn't necessary is a money-saver, adding to the affordability of post-frame buildings.

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The wall framing, called "girts", sits horizontally

In standard wall framing, the wall studs are typically spaced 16" apart and are placed vertically. In post-frame construction, the wall girts are attached from post to post horizontally, at an increment of 24" typically. These wall girts are less about structural integrity as they are a place for attaching the siding.

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Metal siding is common

Because the foundation of the building lies in the posts, the wall sheathing materials don't have to bear any structural load. In standard stick-frame construction, plywood sheathing is required on walls to complete the structure. This is a great system, but plywood requires a siding to cover it, which costs additional money. A simple metal panel systems on the wall of a post-frame building is affordable, looks fantastic, and requires no painting or staining! However, if you want wood siding, or even vinyl or cement plank siding, our buildings can do that too.

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Floors are optional!

Different building needs required different options. A great benefit of a post-frame building is that you technically don't need a floor! Although we put concrete slab floors in a large portion of our buildings, many owners have a structure built, and then install a concrete floor at a later date when a budget allows. This is a great way to get your gear or equipment under cover and out of the elements at a more affordable price.

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So what does this mean to you?

Affordability, number one. Closely followed by customizable and long-lasting. In fact, every building Columbia Steel has ever built is still standing strong, without any of the "rot" people commonly associate with pole buildings. A look at our portfolio and testimonials from our customers will put to rest any questions you have in regard to the durability of post-frame buildings.

A visual look at some post-frame-specific building techniques:

Wondering what the post-frame construction process might look like? The photos below might help out a bit (click for larger view, titles explain what the image is):

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