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Barn Blog

March 16, 2016

Designing a Pole Barn to Support Ceiling Loads

Pole barn building trusses are often not designed to support the dead weight of anything except the trusses, bracing, wiring, and lighting. If you are building a pole barn and want to include a ceiling, its weight needs to be taken into account. If the trusses are more than four feet apart, you will need to add framing to support the steel. Insulation must also be accounted for, even though it is typically very light.

Truss webs are internal pieces of trusses that run at angles between the top and bottom chords. Adding more webs to the trusses can sometimes increase load capacity enough to support the ceiling.

Steel connector plates hold prefabricated metal connector plated trusses together. Since the joint connectors need to support an increased load, more steel will be needed.

Scabs can be added along some of the top and bottom chords. They should be the same size or larger and the same grade or higher than the original truss materials. Truss chords are often made with high-grade materials and usually need to be bought from a truss manufacturer.

Repairs that involve adding internal web members or flat steel plates are rarely a good solution.  If the steel connector plates are not large enough for heavier loads, structurally rated plywood “plates” can be used. They are usually 5/8 or ¾ inch and can be added with glue or nails.

Trusses that are engineered to support ceiling loads are more expensive than ones that are not. The cost will vary depending on the span of the trusses and snow loads. If the trusses have a large span, it may be impractical or impossible to upgrade them to support ceiling loads.

Any repairs to trusses should be designed by an engineer. It is always easier and cheaper to design a pole barn for ceiling loads at the beginning than to make repairs later.

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