An old barn with faded paint in a grass field. The sky is cloudy with patches of blue in the background.

Exploring the Different Barn Types and Styles

Whether you’re using it for storage, to house animals, or to live in yourself — a barn can be the perfect addition to your property. Most barns have the same basic structure. However, they’re customizable in ways that some may not be aware of. For example, you can choose to have a single or two-story barn, paint it any color, and choose from a variety of building materials like steel or wood. 

Regardless of how you choose to customize it, knowing the different barn types and styles is valuable. 

Barn Types

The type of barn refers to how the barn is built — not the shape, per se, since that falls under the category of barn style, rather the types of methods and materials used to build it. Let’s take a closer look at the different types of barns. 

Pole Barns

Known as a “symbol in family history for most legacy farmers,” pole barns are built using wooden poles to frame the barn’s structure. Pole barns are one of the most common barn types people are drawn to. This is partially because you can assemble them quickly without breaking the bank. 

Pole barns are great for those who want an easy and affordable storage option to add to their land. However, despite how common this barn style is, metal barns are starting to take over. 

Post-and-Beam Barns

Similar to a pole barn, a post-and-beam barn is made of lumber. Because the lumber being used is rather large, it increases the cost of materials significantly — but this doesn’t deter people from the post-and-beam barn type. Some people prefer post-and-beam barns because of their sturdy, yet visually appealing look. 

Modular Barns

A modular barn is either entirely or partially built upon arrival. If not entirely built, manufacturers will ensure that the most important structural aspects of the barn are already assembled. This is a great option for those who love the idea of owning a barn, but don’t want to build it themselves. 

Metal Buildings

Just as it sounds, a metal building is a structure that is built out of steel. Barns are just one of the many types of buildings constructed with metal components like support beams, columns, rafters, and girts. Some may choose to implement steel throughout the rest of the barn, including it in the roof and siding. 

Barndominiums

Barndominium refers to a “barn that has been remodeled and renovated so people can live in it. They may also have room for a shop, workspace, storage, or even stables, though many modern iterations of barndos only contain a living space.” They provide residents with a sound structure that can withhold most elements, similar to a home. 

A few reasons why one may choose to live in a barn are that it’s more cost-effective than a typical home, easily customizable, low-maintenance, energy-efficient, spacious, and unique. You can either choose to have a steel barndominium or build it using lumber for a more sturdy, yet sleek, look. 

Barn Styles

While the barn types and styles may seem like the same concept, they do have their differences. The type of barn refers to how it is built, whereas the style of barn refers to its shape. Listed below are the popular barn styles and what they entail. 

Gable Barns

Also known as an A-frame barn, a gable barn is best known for its triangle-shaped roof.  This is an ideal roof shape for those who reside in snowy areas — for it allows the snow and other debris to melt and slide down, rather than pile on top. Another advantage of a gable barn is that they’re still able to be customized and they’re cost-effective. However, those who wish to invest in a gable barn should know that there is less space in the attic for storage due to the A-frame nature. 

Gambrel Barns

A gambrel barn is a slightly modified version of the standard A-frame. Rather than a single set of slopes coming to a point, a gambrel barn has multiple sets. For example, a standard gambrel barn will have a lower set of slopes with another smaller set stacked on top. This is a construction style often found in Dutch architecture. Like the other styles of barns, a gambrel barn can be constructed using various materials like wood, steel, or metal. 

Bank Barns

A bank barn is a style that isn’t as common as the others, but is still seen from time to time. This style of barn is built into the side of a hill (bank), or another elevated surface. This is a concept that is often found in homes, and has been transferred over to barns as well. Those who wish to invest in a bank barn may do so because of the dual-access to both the upper and lower levels of the barn from ground level. 

Bank barns typically consist of two stories, providing the owner with multiple levels of storage. This barn style is more expensive than the others — partially because of the structure of the barn itself, and having to excavate the ground to build it. Because bank barns are built straight into a slope, it will require more construction and time — something to be mindful of when selecting this style. 

Dutch Barns

Dutch barns are allegedly the “oldest and rarest types of barns.” This style can take on various forms. For example, a Dutch barn can be made up of a gabled roof with large beams made of lumber, or it can take on a square shape designed specifically to hold baled hay and straw. Typically, a Dutch barn has one story. However, there are a few that were built with an additional story. 

Prairie Barns

A prairie barn is made up of a roof that comes to a peak, and is long enough on both sides to where it often meets the ground. This long roof style, also known as a sweeping roof, is what differentiates a prairie barn from the others. This larger barn style is often used to store feed, hay, and other farming equipment and materials. 

Monitor Barns

One of the largest styles of barns, a monitor barn is made up of multiple levels of roofing, coming to a raised point in the center. Because this is a larger barn style, it is excellent for those that have the room to create a one-stop-shop for extra storage, housing their animals, and equipment all in one. Of course, the larger the barn, the more it will cost. But this unique style is worth it if you desire more storage space over basic barns.