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Barn Blog

March 6, 2015

How to Prevent Pole Barn Post Rot

Wooden pole barns are wonderfully versatile, durable structures that can last a lifetime when properly built and maintained. But no matter how well a barn is made it doesn't change the facts of nature – especially the fact that wood rots over time. This means that your pole barn's ground-set wooden posts are susceptible to decay that threatens the barn's structural integrity.

Don't worry; there are precautions you can take to make sure that this doesn't happen in your own lifetime. In this post we'll take a look at the causes of post rot and steps you can take to prevent or minimize the damage.

Ground-set post decay occurs for a very simple reason: soil-dwelling organisms like fungi and bacteria colonize the wood the use its fibers as a source of food. These organisms, in addition to a source of nourishment like wood, also need three other conditions met in order to thrive: oxygen, warmth, and moisture. Eliminate one link in the chain, and your little wood-eaters aren't going to be much of a problem anymore. Since there's not much you can do about the oxygen in the atmosphere or the temperature of the soil, this leaves the problem of moisture to tackle.

Post covers like Post Protector are a popular and effective solution to the problem of soil moisture and contact with decay-causing organisms. Post covers are durable sheathes made of a material like plastic, designed to slide over the bottom length of the pole and prevent moisture and organisms from coming into contact with the wood. If it seems simple, that's because it is. But sometimes a little simplicity is a good thing!

Another simple, effective solution to the problem of pole barn post rot is to use pressure-treated wood. Pressure-treated wood is infused with chemical preservatives that make it unappetizing to the fungi and bacteria that cause post rot. Pressure-treated wood is the little costlier than untreated, but as with so many other things in life, it's worth it to spend the extra money.

So which is the better option for you to prevent post rot? Both! Most experts agree that a comprehensive "belt and suspenders" approach to post rot prevention is the best practice when building a pole structure. In other words, use a post cover over pressure-treated wood. This offers twice the ground rot protection of just one or the other, obviously, and also prevents chemicals from the treated wood from leaching into the surrounding soil.

By taking these simple preventative measures, you can all but eliminate the threat of post rot in your new pole barn, ensuring a sound structure for decades – if not longer – to come.

Contact the Pole Barn Company today to learn more about their custom pole barn kits, including their options to prevent post rot.

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