How to Build a Barn | Construction Algorithm

How to Build a Barn takes you step by step through the process of building barn sized buildings. Includes information on tools, materials, and building.

How to Build a Barn – Setting the Posts

The most notable difference between How to Build a Shed and How to Build a Barn is the size of the posts and the use of batter boards. Posts are set in the ground and extend up so other framing members can be attached to them. The most common type of posts for barn construction are 6 x 6 treated pine. They are available in lengths from 8′ to 24′.

  • Start with batter boards. Set them up on each corner to ensure proper placement of posts.
  • If you have a good level working place, then you need not worry about the batter boards being perfectly level.
  • If the ground is out of level by more than 10%, then you should level the horizontal pieces on the batter boards with each other. An optical level works best. Water levels are also nice and so are lasers but they are expensive tools. A line level is not recommended.
  • 2 x 4’s or 1 x 4’s work best but anything will work.
  • Roughly mark the corner posts so you do not misplace the batter boards.
  • Drive three stakes for each batter board.
  • Use a nail gun or screws to attach the horizontal pieces.
  • Set them about 2′ off each corner for working room.
How to Build a Barn Batter BoardsHow to Build a Barn - For Batter Boards use 1 x 4's or 2 x 4's
  • Dig the holes so that 20% of the post will be underground. In other words, if you need 8′ for your post height, then dig your hole 24″. Your post will be 10′ with 2′ buried and 8′ usable.
  • If you hit rock or some other impenetrable layer, there are some adjustments you can make.
  • Try and move the hole if at all possible. This may involve moving all of them.

After you stand the post into its hole you will need a two braces. One for each axis. They will be 90º from each other. 10′ 2 x 4’s nailed about 7′ high with a good solid 2 x 4 stake at the bottom works best. Make sure these braces hold well. A failure with one of these could be catastrophic. Do not remove any of these braces until permanent framing members are installed.

The band nails on at the top of the posts on the outside. 2 x 10 is a minimum size if your posts are no more than 10′ apart. While it is possible to do the next steps alone, we highly recommend against it.

  • If you established a level mark for the batter boards, then use the lines to measure from when you mark the posts. If you did not do this, then a level mark must be established at this point. An optical level works best.
  • Saw the post off with the mark as evenly as possible. Use a chainsaw if you are skilled enough. You may want to do some practice cuts above the cut off mark.
  • Start on one end and nail on the bands with 3 16d coated nails or four 12d with a nail gun. You can also bolt them.
  • Nail a 2 x 4 flush with the outside of the band. This is the top plate.
  • It will need layout marks for the trusses or rafters. 24″ oc is good spacing for trusses on barns.

Once the posts are all set into there holes and you are satisfied with their positions in relation to the string on the batter boards then pour concrete around them.

Important Notes:

  • Never use “dry” concrete straight out of the bag.
  • When the concrete sets, it will be all impossible to move the posts very much. Make sure they are plumb before you pour the concrete.
  • Let the concrete set overnight.
  • Do not remove any braces yet.

How to Build a Barn – Framing

How to Build a Barn covers three options for framing your barn roof. They are wood trusses, steel trusses, and stick framing. Stick framing is the least expensive but it requires the most skill. For step by step instructions read Roof Rafters. Steel trusses are popular for hay storage barns because they offer more headroom. They are also mandatory for many state assistance programs.

Metal roofing will cover any of the framing styles. How to Install Metal Roof includes all the information necessary. The same application techniques works for a the projects on Pro Barn Plans. Barns can pose different challenges than sheds and garages. Depending on the plan or plans the building is based on, and any custom changes, the barn could be quite tall and have a steep roof pitch. It will be hard to finish the project if you are dead or seriously injured. Do not bite off more than you can chew. It may be wise to enlist at least some experienced workers for this if you are not completely comfortable with doing the roof framing and the metal roofing.

Metal roofing is not only the predominate method for top, it has become the most popular material for the walls. Using steel for siding does not supply sufficient strength to counter shear stress. This means the walls need adequate bracing. For barn sized buildings, the easiest way to do this is to put 2 x 6 diagonal “X” braces at each corner. They go from the inside of the band under the top plate down to the nearest post. Nail them into the posts, the band, and each of the girts. The “X” braces are permanent replacements for the temporary braces. Take down the temporary braces as they are replaced. Visit Tool Shed Plans for more details on leaving rough openings for doors and other wall building tips. Hay storage barns are built sometimes with no siding on the walls. If your project will have open walls, then you must still follow procedure for bracing. Otherwise, the concrete footings around the posts will be left to keep the barn from toppling in high wind.

How to Build a Barn would not be complete without some instruction on barn doors. DIY Barn Door includes all necessary information for building just about any kind of barn door.

Build a Shed Ramp if you will be rolling tools or equipment in and out of your barn. This simple add on  can be built quickly and there is probably enough scrap material at this point.

The projects in How to Build a Barn may demand that all or part of the building have a wooden floor or overhead loft. See Barn Loft | Floor Construction for a simple construction algorithm that will work for any barn.

How To Build a Barn – Closing Thoughts

The material for your barn does not have to be treated. But since it is exposed to more elements than your house because it is not climate controlled, you will get a longer life from your barn if you use treated. Number 2 treated pine is an excellent choice. Rough sawed oak and other hardwoods are an economical alternative and they are very popular. The major difference between the two is the kind of nails required. Check with your lumber supplier to make sure the right fastener is used.

We hope you have found some or all of this material useful. If you have anything at all you would like us to know about, simply contact us. Good luck with your project and thanks for reading How to Build a Barn.