Cost Comparison: Metal Barns Vs. Wooden Barns

Generations have passed since the first wooden barn- the iconic red barn- was installed on an American farm. However, more innovative designs and materials have been developed and mass-produced with time. This is because wood, even though aesthetically pleasing, requires more care and is vulnerable to extreme weather and pests.

This is not the same for certified steel barns. They are made to last. With little care, they can outlast the buyer with extreme durability and structural integrity. So, what makes metal better than wood, and what are its pros and cons? Let’s begin the discussion below.

Where Metal Barns Outperform

Handling Weather

When timber is prone to heat, it can cause warping, swelling, and shrinkage. This will make it a necessity to replace them every once in a while. In addition, wood can absorb rainwater, which may lead to decay over time. And as if that was not enough, the harshest weather conditions, like high-speed wind, hail storms, and hurricanes, can rip them apart. Not let’s see how metal can handle the same. Speaking of heat, metals are not much affected by weather as they are non-porous materials and do not react to everyday temperature fluctuations. In addition, they are dense and lightweight, so they are easy to ship and maneuver during construction. A certified steel structure can withstand wind speeds of up to 170 mph.

Immune To Pests

Timber is an organic material. They are natural homes to pests such as termites, insects, birds, etc., and can become breeding grounds for termites as soon as they come in contact with one. In addition, if you are using wooden barns as livestock, carnivores can chew through rot wood and enter to have dinner while you are away. That will be a loss for ranchers. Metal is an inorganic material that does not decompose with time. It is not a natural home to termites and other animals. Just a regular cleaning is enough to keep pests away for good. Moreover, metal is strong, and predators can’t chew through it to enter your barn. Your stored items or livestock are both safe.

Fire Safety

Wood is a combustible material, which is why it is readily used as fire logs in chimneys. Wood can catch fire as soon as it comes in contact with fire or combustion, making it more prone to fire. A small accident can lead to a large-scale catastrophe. Metal, on the other hand, is non-combustible. Therefore, they won’t catch fire easily. You can keep flammable substances like gas cans and paint in your metal garages. In the event of a fire, a well-insulated metal building will resist fire for up to 2 to 4 hours. This will give you enough time to vacate it or extinguish it.

Lower Insurance

Wooden structures come with standard insurance charges. An insurance company takes into account the likelihood of the entire building’s safety in case of fire, extreme climatic events, and seismic activities. A metal structure is not vulnerable to fire, extreme weather events, or earthquakes. This gives them an edge over wooden buildings. These features do not go unnoticed by insurance companies. With certified steel barns, you can get up to 30 to 40% off on insurance premiums.

Fast Assembling

Timber takes a lot of time to assemble. Almost all the cutting, shaving, and drilling are done on the site, which increases the duration of construction. Not to mention, labor costs are high as well. Prefab barns are predesigned, drilled, and cut in the factory, so most of the work is done there. The assembly is done on the site, which, therefore, requires less time, effort, and manpower. Less manpower and labor means low installation costs and labor charges.

Overall Cost

Timber-built structures may cost less than raw materials, but they require high maintenance to retain their look, which increases the overall cost with time. Moreover, in recent times, the cost has become quite competitive. The same is not true with metal structures. Naturally, galvanized steel, as a raw material, comes with a higher price but does not need repainting, termite inspection, or pest control every now and then. They just need regular cleaning, which can be done with an ordinary garden hose and some mild detergent.

Durable | Customization | Versatility

Wood’s durability depends on the type. Even high-quality timber is subjected to rot and decay with time. The wooden structures, once installed, are hard to modify or expand without adding complication. With wood, there is a limit to what can be designed.


Now, with metal, high-quality galvanized steel can last over a decade without a need to repaint. When it comes to customization, metal barns offer various design options, such as:

  • Exterior: curved/ 3D/ perforated metal panels or any other facade option.
  • Interior: clear span up to 300 ft. and as high as 40 ft.

You can make use of prefab barns as it suits you. Some common uses are livestock shelters, farm garages, grain and hay storage, Brando, etc.

Where Wooden Barns Outperform


Who does like the cozy wood charm? Wood has a warm feel to it. The good news is that even steel can be painted with a wood grain effect to give it a wooden look. That’s right. You can have a steel structure with a wooden feel, including floors.

Lower Initial Cost

A wooden pole barn’s initial cost is less than a wood’s. This is why some people get drawn towards it. Despite that, the maintenance cost is higher and necessary. You can’t skip pest control teams, termite inspections, or examining beams and posts that are exposed to sun, rain, and snow.  

On-Site Design Modification


It is much easier to cut and reshape a timber plank than steel. Steel is a pretty dense material, and cutting it requires precision and high-quality tools. Wood can be reshaped on-site to fit the bill. However, note that any on-site changes will delay the project, whether it is of wood or steel.

Quick Comparison Between Steel Barns Vs. Wooden Barns


Comparison Steel Barns Wooden Barns
Initial cost High Low
Overall cost Low High
Assembly time Fast Slow
Column free design Yes (Up to 300 ft.) No
Fire resistance Yes No
Pest resistance Yes No
Traditional aesthetics No Yes
Withstand high-speed wind 150 – 170 mph 90 – 110 mph
Withstand snow load (packed snow) Up to 40 – 57 lbs. per sq. ft. Up to 20 lbs. per sq. ft.
Contemporary Look Yes Depends

Rusting! A Common Concern With Metal

One common complaint that people often have against metal is that they get rust. And that is true indeed. However, you must know that not all metals are subjected to rusting, such as aluminum, zinc, copper, etc. Rusting is mainly restricted to iron and its alloy. That’s why steel is coated with a zinc layer to prevent rusting, i.e., galvanized. You can leave it without paint too.


Nowadays, you can find weathering steel where a rust-like patina develops on the steel that prevents rusting. It gives old-world charm and does not require painting either.

Upon Analyzing The Facts

It is crystal clear that metal barns outperform wood by any means. For budget-conscious people, prefab barns are the best option. Many metal builders offer seasonal sales on their websites and social media handles. Keep an eye on them to land the best deal for yourself.

Always ensure that the seller is trustworthy and provides you with high-quality steel. A bad quality may cost less but will need repair and replacement in the long run. You can check dealer’s reviews and feedback given by previous buyers to know about their services.

Read More: Three Major Reasons Why You Need A Two Car Garage