Timber Frames

Pole Barns and Timber Frame Barns

February 28, 2022
Exterior framing in place for a timber frame barn.

Right off the bat, we can tell you that pole barns and timber frame barns are completely different structures. The only real similarity between the two is that both use strong hardwood as the main frame of the structure. Well, we also count the fact that both structures are barns. That's where the similarities end.

In every single way, from conception to build, there are many crucial differences between timber frame and pole construction barns. Today, we're going to examine some of the most important ones.


Because of the intricate parts and joinery required to hold the heavy timber components of a timber frame together, a timber frame barn requires a more complex design. When designing and laying out a timber frame barn, you must consider the proper placement of such elements as:

  • Trusses
  • Beams
  • Posts
  • Ties

As well as the placement of mortise and tenon connectors to ensure that the frame of your barn is strong and structurally sound.

Pole barns do not require the same intricate joinery for the strength and solidity. In fact, much of a pole barns strength comes from the posts are buried in the ground. They also do not use heavy timber in their construction, instead requiring wood that is smaller and more lightweight. Because of these things, the design of a pole barn does not need to be as complex as that of a timber frame barn.


Pole barns are often prefabricated, meaning that after you choose a design and are shipped a kit. These kits are simple enough to build for either the DIY enthusiast and some friends or a small crew that has basic knowledge of construction. All you have to do is dig holes for your poles – no foundation required – and put it all together. Simply stated, pole barns are simple buildings for keeping farming equipment, storing hay, or possibly housing livestock.

Timber frame barns are designed to meet the needs of our clients. Unlike pole barns, a permanent foundation is required to create a strong, solid base for your timber frame barn. The heart of your timber frame structure is comprised of bents. These bents are assembled on site by experienced joiners due to the complex joinery required to hold each piece together. Because of the weight of timber frame barn bents, they must be raised by cranes. While this sounds like a time-intensive, costly process, it's all worth it. Timber frame barns and all timber frame structures are built to be enjoyed for decades to come.

Timber frame barns: the solution to today's more extreme winds, tornadoes and hurricanes. That's why we build timber frame barns, not pole barns


When you're trying to choose between a pole barn or a timber frame barn, there are two things you should consider:

  • What you're planning on using the structure for
  • What kind of budget you're working with

Pole barns ultimately cost less than timber frame barns. This is partly due to their prefabricated nature and because pole barns are not built to last for generations. If you're looking for something with more uses than general storage that can stick around longer than a few decades, then a pole barn is not for you.

Timber frame barns are more expensive, but you truly get what you pay for. If treated right and maintained well, a timber frame barn can stick around for centuries. Don't believe us? Check out some of the Renaissance timber architecture found in many European and Scandinavian countries that still stands today. Timber frames cost more in part because of the labor intensive techniques used in building them. Much of the cost is attributed to the building processes used, and the labor involved, but having your building expertly put together by experienced joiners means that you'll get a quality building that you'll get many, many uses out of.

Timber frame barn with adjoining timber frame patio

Now you know how that pole barns and timber frame barns are completely different structures. Still curious as to whether or not a pole barn or a timber frame barn is right for you? Give us a call at (931) 484-7059 or fill out our online contact form to schedule a quick chat with us. Our timber framing experts will be more than happy to help you find the solution that best fits your needs!

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