When Should Texas Farmers Choose Steel Over Pole Barn Construction?

Wood-framed buildings are inferior & more costly when you factor in maintenance

Doug L. is a cotton farmer in Texas. He’s been working on the same farm for over thirty years, and his business is booming. However, Doug has a difficult decision to make.

Even though his crop is in demand, his business has outgrown his facilities. Parking for his tractors is now sparse, industrial equipment is quickly piling up in every corner of his outbuilding, and the time has come to invest in a new facility that will allow him to grow into a bigger, more successful farming operation.

This is an image of a Capital Steel metal barn.

Doug has been shopping around, and he’s learned about the two most common building types for farmers in Texas: modular steel and pole-barn. They each seem to be able to meet his needs for a large, versatile agricultural building, but steel seems to be so much more expensive. So, what gives? Why would Doug choose steel over post-frame construction for his new facility?

At Capital Steel Industries, we’ve encountered this situation a lot. We understand what’s most important to farmers when it comes to the buildings they rely on for day-to-day productivity. To help Doug out here, we’re going to evaluate steel versus pole barn construction and offer up some quick considerations that will help make his decision easier.

The Pole Barn vs Steel Conundrum

As a general rule, the cost of a wood pole-framed building is going to be lower than an equitably sized building constructed with a steel frame. So, right out of the gate we can award the pole barn a ‘tick’ in the pro column for being the cheaper alternative.

However, this is going to be one of the only advantages that we’ll find, and here’s why: in virtually every other side-by-side comparison, wood-framed buildings are going to be inferior to steel-framed buildings.

This is an image of a Capital Steel metal barn.

Foundational Integrity

Pole barns are constructed by driving perimeter anchor posts into the ground to a set depth. Therefore, the primary framing of the structure is subjected to the variability of the surrounding soil.

As the soil shifts over time (and it will), the foundation of the pole barn is going to be compromised. The larger the building is, the more annual soil expansion and contraction is going to have a cumulative effect on the foundation.

Fire Risk and Insurance Cost

Remember when we said that pole barns are less expensive to build than steel-framed buildings? While that is generally true, the cost to insure a pole barn is going to almost certainly be higher.

Why? Because of the fire risk. Wood burns, and steel doesn’t.

The Pest Factor

Every year in Texas, the eastern subterranean termite deals a damaging blow to wood-framed buildings located throughout the state, causing millions in damages. If Doug the cotton farmer chooses steel over pole barn, he won’t have to lose sleep worrying about termites.

Steel is also less prone to infestations of rats, ants, and other pests. Here again, we find that steel outperforms wood-framed construction in a side-by-side comparison.

Build Speed

For Doug (and many other farmers in Texas), time is of the essence in getting his new building erected.

If he opted for wood-framed construction, he’d be looking at a build timeline that very well might measure in months. However, choosing a steel-framed building could reduce his construction time to mere weeks.

Steel buildings go up much faster than wood-framed buildings. And, when you have everything you need in a single kit, nothing is left to chance, and everything goes much more smoothly.

The Conclusion: Steel Wins

Yes, steel is more expensive than wood. And yes, they both can be suitable solutions for Texas farmers. However, only steel provides ongoing value across-the-board in numerous categories.

Therefore, Doug is better served by choosing steel over wood-framed for his new facility.

Interested in receiving a quote for a Texas steel building? Contact Capital Steel Industries today, and let’s start a conversation.

This is an image of stunning metal horse barn from Capital Steel.