Smart Farm Building Design Choices to Make Your Structures Last

Dec 5, 2022 1 min read

Don’t skimp on your farm building design and construction. Smart design is the best defense against potentially disastrous elements like tornadoes and deep freezes. Your barn or outbuilding’s materials and construction — even its orientation — can prevent loss of property and lives in unexpected weather events.

The Best Doors for Barns in Winter

You should weigh cost, space and insulation when building or replacing your barn door. Ideally, a door with an airtight seal will keep your space energy-efficient and safe in inclement weather.

Sliding Doors

These have been the traditional choice for pole barns. They take up less space, require less maintenance and are comparatively inexpensive. However, sliding doors can be quite difficult to open in freezing temperatures. They are also not insulated and do not offer as tight of a seal as overhead doors.

Overhead Doors

This garage-style door is all about ease — just use the clicker to drive the tractor in! The convenience comes at a price, though. Usually 14 feet tall, these doors require an overhead track that may take up valuable space inside the barn. While more expensive than sliding doors, overhead doors provide better security against thieves and the elements.

What to Look for in Windows

An energy-efficient barn is a safe one. Whether you’re doing a new build or just replacing a few windows, consult the National Fenestration Rating Council’s energy performance label as you consider these factors.

Placement and Size

The location and dimensions of your windows can impact the building’s safety. Your designer and contractor will ensure your windows do not reduce your pole barn’s integrity in high winds.

Glass Type

Choose tempered, insulated double pane glass, which helps regulate temperatures indoors. You might also consider low-emissivity glass to insulate an old barn and reduce energy costs.

Frame Type

If your shed’s feeling drafty, it’s possible your window frames are rusted or gapped. Aluminum storm windows can weatherproof your shed to protect your structure from extreme weather. Vinyl, though cheaper, will wear out quickly.


While windows shield what’s inside from precipitation and wind, they should also be opened to improve ventilation and air quality. Remember to select windows that you can easily open time and again.

Designing Tornado-Proof Buildings

It’s not just Tornado Alley experiencing catastrophically high winds and storms. From Michigan to Florida, farmers and ranchers can build safer buildings for their livestock and machinery.

Embedded Columns

Pole buildings are designed to withstand powerful winds better than stick frame construction. By embedding columns within the ground, the structure can better resist uplifting forces.

Roof Trusses

Using steel brackets to connect roof trusses to these embedded columns is another way to build stronger, tornado-proof farm buildings.

Pole Barn Wind Bracing

There are many ways to reinforce roofing using lateral, web, sway and wind bracing. Your contractor can walk you through the best options for your project. 

Smart Design, Strong Coverage

You’ve invested in designing a barn to safeguard your farm’s livelihood. Now your Farm Bureau agent can create a coverage plan to protect it. Contact your agent today.

Want to learn more?

Contact a local FBFS agent or advisor for answers personalized to you.