From modern to farming-specific pole barn design styles, this guide reveals the ideal choice for you.

1. Traditional Pole Barn Styles

Symbolizing virtues like initiative and self-sufficiency, traditional pole barns are inextricably woven into the history of the U.S.A. The National Barn Alliance observes, “Barns tell the story of hard work. They tell stories of dedication, tradition, aspiration, and creativity. It is our nation’s story told in wood, brick, and stone.”

Just as early in the nation’s life, traditional pole barns are characterized by their:

  • simple design – steeply pitched gambrel or gable roofs, iconic oversized and heavy barn doors at both ends
  • rustic, weathered look – wood (or wood-look) sidings in red or earthy colors that blend with rural landscapes, and
  • functional features – cupolas and flying/prow gable roofs.

2. Modern Pole Barn Styles

Modern pole barn design styles would blow our forefathers’ minds! While they may look unchanged from a distance, closer inspection reveals innovative upgrades. The modern pole barn combines sleek, contemporary design elements with smart technology and custom interiors.

  • Using the latest materials that are both lightweight and strong has opened up a range of exciting possibilities:
  • Higher interior roof heights up to 20-25 ft.
  • Staircases, lofts, and other architectural details typically seen in brick-and-mortar buildings.
  • Metal sidings made to mimic wood grain, bricks, or other textures. Bold exterior colors in place of traditional red.
  • Large expanses of low thermal emissivity glass in the form of horizontal slider doors, windows, and even entire walls.
  • Interiors feature painted or stained interior walls and ceilings and polished concrete floors with radiant heat systems.
  • Smart home technology like wifi-enabled lighting controls and remote access doors.

3. Agricultural and Farming-Specific Designs

Barns contribute to recounting the progress of the country, with their close association to agriculture. The U.S. Diplomatic Mission to Germany acknowledges that “In a very real sense, agriculture powered America’s economic development.”

When exploring different pole barn styles, focus on functionality with low-maintenance, durable materials optimized for farming use.

  • A gambrel roof has two slopes on each side, with the lower being steeper than the upper. The angled sides provide a taller loft area and more volume for maximum storage space.
  • Metal exterior paneling like galvanized steel is very durable and requires low maintenance compared to wood.
  • Concrete floors are durable and make cleaning up easier. Slope the floors slightly for drainage.
  • Install flood lights and ample electrical outlets inside and out.
  • Plan for areas to store different items like feed, equipment and animals. Allow room to move vehicles/equipment in and out.
  • Customize with lean-to side sheds for covered storage of additional equipment.

4. Commercial and Industrial Pole Barn Styles

Successful commercial pole barn designs fulfill two main criteria. Industrial pole barn design styles are:

  1. durable, thanks to industrial-grade material specs, and
  2. versatile with maximized open space.


  • High gable roofs allow for larger open interior span and provide ample drainage.
  • Multiple large openings greater than 14 ft wide to accommodate large equipment.
  • Concrete aprons around entrances prevent mud and ease loading.
  • Space to store inventory, vehicles, workshop areas, and so on, e.g., bump outs and pole barn overhangs.


  • Floors should be seamless poured concrete or heavy-duty epoxy coatings that withstand chemicals and impacts. Slope slightly for drainage.
  • Industrial hanging shop lights for abundant illumination (500-1,000 lux).
  • Plenty of roof and wall-mounted electrical outlets, 220V where needed.
  • Restrooms.


  • Install roof and deck safety anchors if workers will access the roof.
  • Fire prevention like sprinklers and smoke detectors.
  • Heating and ventilation per OSHA facility requirements.

5. Eco-Friendly Pole Barn Designs

When considering climate and environmental factors, concentrate on these principles:

  • Sustainable materials – FSC certified lumber or reclaimed/salvaged wood, galvanized steel or aluminum for long-lasting performance, bamboo walls, flooring, and trim.
  • Insulation in the roof, walls, and foundation perimeter improves energy efficiency and moisture control. Window glazing with low-emissivity coatings reduces heat gain and loss.
  • Natural light and passive ventilation via strategically placed windows (in the step down), automated shades, skylights, and venting roof turbines.
  • Renewable energy such as solar panels and a geoexchange system.
  • Site
    A south-facing entrance lets in more light and warmth.
    Landscape with native, drought tolerant plants.
    Permeable driving surfaces allow rainwater absorption into the landscape.

Contact the creative team at Peak Pole Barns and Manufacturing for more information about pole barn design styles.