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Barn Blog

December 28, 2015

Is a Single Slope Roof a Good Choice for a Pole Barn?

A single slope roof may be the most economical choice when using a pole barn as a run-in shed for horses or cattle. In other cases, however, it can be less aesthetically pleasing than other designs and may not save you money.

Steel roofing manufacturer warranties are generally void on roof slopes less than 3/12. In order to maintain the warranty, the high side of the building may need to be very tall to have the appropriate slope. For example, on a roof with the most common slope (4/12), a building 24 feet wide will be eight feet taller on one side than the other.

Building columns are designed to resist wind loads. Since the formula for a simple span includes the square of the span, a building 16 feet tall will have to carry four times the load of an eight-foot span. This can require some very large columns. You could wind up having to enclose a large area that could be difficult to use.

Some people choose a single slope roof for a pole barn so rain or snow will run off to one side. This can allow a large amount of snow to accumulate in front of doors that can be difficult to clear.

It would be less expensive to use a pitched gable truss with snow brakes. This will keep snow on the roof so it will not slide down and form piles in front of the doors or pile up against the low side eave wall and cause the siding to buckle.

If you would prefer a clearspan, the roof trusses should be no higher than 12 feet. Many roof truss fabricators cannot produce trusses higher than 12 feet, and those who can many have difficulty shipping them.

If your single slope roof is relatively flat and the clearspan width is greater than what the dimensional lumber or laminated veneer lumber can support, you will need to use prefabricated trusses to add heel height (truss depth) at the low sidewall. This can make it more difficult to utilize interior space.

You may be able to add interior columns to reduce truss costs or reduce dimensional lumber distance. The columns might get in the way.

Extra height along one eave might be able to be used as a second floor, but headroom will be lost when moving away from the taller wall. A single slope roof cannot generally be used to create an attic space. Interior columns will be needed to support the loft floor.

Do not use doors on the tall sidewall that are equal to or higher than the height of the low sidewall. You might be able to drive in a tall vehicle, but it will hit the roof. If you use a prefabricated trussed roof, the lateral bracing between the bottom chords and webs can get in the way.

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