Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (2023)

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“Can I build a new pole barn on existing concrete?” This question is frequently asked by customers who have property with a sizeable concrete slab, whether it be:

  • An outdoor basketball court that is no longer used
  • An older building (e.g., corn crib) was torn down
  • Or the original structure was a total loss in a fire

To answer the question at hand, yes, you can build a new pole barn on existing concrete. However, just because it can be done doesn’t mean it’s the best option for you.

This article details the benefits and concerns of erecting a new post frame structure on existing concrete. By the end, you’ll know if you should use your current slab or start from scratch.

Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (1)

3 Benefits of Building a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete

1) Less Site Preparation

Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (2)Building a pole barn on existing concrete is super convenient. There’s little to no site preparation involved. The building pad is already located, cleared up, and poured.

2) Time Savings

With that being said, you don’t have to worry about finding and hiring an excavator to perform extensive site work. There’s 5 to 10 percent of your construction project already done. You can dedicate more time to other tasks, such as building design.

3) Cost Savings

Perhaps the biggest advantage of building a pole barn on existing concrete is the cost savings.

Once again, you don’t have to hire an excavator or haul in large loads of granular fill (e.g., sand, gravel, and stone). The money can go towards feature upgrades such as wainscoting, a porch, or interior finishes.

(Video) Would you Build a Pole Barn Garage on Existing Concrete??

Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (3)

3 Factors to Consider Before Building a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete

1) Unknown Risks

When a customer approaches us with his/her building project, we know nothing about their concrete. Unless the customer provides us with construction drawings from his/her contractor, which isn’t always the case.

As a post frame builder, we want to address the following concerns before you agree to build a new pole barn on existing concrete:

  • Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (4)Was the concrete mix carefully proportioned and cured?

    Concrete is made out of paste and aggregates (i.e., rocks). The paste component consists of portland cement and water, which binds with the aggregates to form a solid mass known as concrete.

    The key to achieving a strong, durable slab is all in how the ingredients are proportioned and mixed. Too much or too little of something will affect the concrete’s character.

    Per the Portland Cement Association, an ideal concrete mix is 10 to 15 percent cement, 60 to 75 percent aggregate, and 15 to 20 percent water. Air-entraining agents make up another 5 to 8 percent.

    Curing ensures that the cementing property stays hydrated, so the slab continues to harden and strengthen. Concrete surfaces are cured using a mist machine or putting down moisture-retaining fabrics (e.g., burlap and cotton mats). The longer the concrete is moistened, the more durable and stronger it’ll be.

    The last thing we want to do is construct a post frame building on poorly made concrete.

  • Is the concrete deep and thick enough to support a new pole barn?

    Furthermore, we want to make sure that the concrete is deep and thick enough to support the intended structure.

    Depth refers to the vertical distance below a surface; whereas, the thickness is the property of being thick (in dimension).

    The concrete depth should exceed frost levels in your area. If not, the slab may be subject to frost heave – an unwanted phenomena whose structural effects are so critical that it deserves its own section.

    The concrete thickness is dependent on the primary use of the post frame building. For example, the slab was initially poured for a basketball court or corn crib. How will it hold up when used for a garage? If not thick enough, the concrete may crack when pressure, such as a parked vehicle, is applied.

Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (5)

  • Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (6)Does the concrete consist of adequate reinforcement?

    The purpose of reinforcement, also known as “rebar,” is to give concrete additional strength and minimize cracks.

    Most concrete used for post frame construction is reinforced with embedded steel rods or welded wire fabric when casted.

    (Video) Pole Barn being built on old concrete foundation.

However, it’s not a requirement for all concrete projects. Before we move forward with the building process, we must confirm that the slab's foundation is adequately reinforced.

Without blueprints, the only way to address these concerns is to cut and examine a cross-section of the existing concrete.

Editor’s Note: This investigation is at the customer’s expense. If you don’t spend the extra money, it’s a shot in the dark for your post frame builder. Not to mention, you’ll assume the unknown risks associated with your building project.

2) Frost Heaving

Frost heave is the upward swelling of soil caused by ice formation during freezing weather. For this phenomena to occur, the following conditions must be met at the same time:

  • The soil type is frost-susceptible
  • Water is available in sufficient quantities
  • Cooler weather causes the soil and water to freeze

As mentioned above, frost heave can compromise the structural integrity of your pole barn.

For instance, doors and windows may not open or close properly. Or worse, the upheaval may not be uniform, causing your post frame building to look lop-sided.

So, what can we do to minimize the damaging effects of frost heaving? After all, we have no control over Mother Nature.

Again, your concrete depth must exceed the specified frost level in your area.

We also recommend using coarse-grained soils that don’t heave (e.g., sands and gravels). Clays, silts, and fine sands promote ice growth.

(Video) Sturdy wall Perma brackets

Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (7)Proper drainage goes a long way with any building project. There are two types of drainage in post frame construction:

  • Subsurface Drainage: an underground network of piping and tiling for conveying water to the point of disposal, such as a storm sewer or ditches.
  • Surface Drainage: the grading of the land to divert rain and other surface water into a natural drainage pattern.

Having both types would be ideal, but in this case, the concrete is already there, and you’re unable to install a subsurface drainage system.

Moreover, grading ensures proper drainage, which requires you to hire an excavator. The elevation should allow a 2 percent grade away from the pole barn for a minimum of 10 to 15 feet around the entire perimeter.

Editor’s Note: The soil type and building codes may affect the way you grade around the pad. Your Project Manager (PM) or Project Sales Consultant (PSC) will be able to answer site prep questions.

Unfortunately, we don’t know when frost heaving will occur or how it’ll affect your post frame building until after the fact. But that’s one of the risks you take by building on existing concrete. Regardless, these proactive tips will help you combat this uplifting force.

Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (8)

3) Foundation Adequacy

Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (9)Lastly, the foundation must be wide and heavy enough to support the intended building weight.

If not, it may struggle to resist uplifting forces. Whereas a wider (and reinforced) base has more surface area to support more concentrated loads.

You’ll also want to inspect the quality of the foundation. For instance, is it spalling? Concrete can spall when:

  • The ground undergoes a freeze-thaw cycle
  • De-icing salt is put down during the winter months
  • Poor finishing or curing techniques were used
  • A bad mixture was poured

If the concrete is spalled or starting to show signs, we’re not confident that the uplift anchors will hold. They’re a rigid attachment at the base of an embedded column that increases the force required to pull the post out of the ground.

(Video) Pole Barn Slabs over existing concrete

The best remedy is to straddle the existing pad by expanding the building size. This solution will require you to strip the topsoil, remove any landscaping, clean up debris, and haul in rock for the new concrete needed to fill in the perimeter gaps.

You don’t want to attach directly to or build on top of the slab because water can flow underneath your post frame building, which can cause structural issues.

How Does the QLYFT Building System Affect Your Existing Concrete?

In Fall 2020, FBi Buildings introduced the QLYFT building system, an unprecedented way of erecting post frame structures on the ground.

Yes, you read that right. We’re building pole barns on the ground and raising them to the desired height.

It was created to improve construction crew safety while taking quality to the next level. When you alter a 60+ year history of constructing post frame buildings, there will be questions, and rightfully so.

Customers have asked our salespeople how the QLYFT building system affects their existing concrete. This revolutionary construction method is no different than conventional standards when determining if you should build a pole barn on your current slab.

However, we don’t know if the pad is strong enough to hold the components (e.g., hydraulic cylinders, I-beam frames, and scissor braces). Another reason why looking into the concrete beforehand is necessary for reducing the number of unknown risks.

For more information, you can download our FREE QLYFT Building System Guidebook. This resource explains its significant benefits, how the parts work together, and answers potential questions you may have as a first-time buyer.

Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (10)

Will You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete?

Ultimately, whether you build a pole barn on existing concrete or not is up to you. As the top post frame builder in the Midwest, our job is to make sure you’re aware of the associated risks. For some people, it’s worth it. Do you agree?

Of course, if you have any questions, you can contact our office. Our team of post frame experts will gladly assist you. Together, we can build with confidence.

(Video) Why set Brackets on an existing concrete pad? (20x30 pole barn).

Can You Build a Pole Barn on Existing Concrete? (11)

Do you have more questions about pole barns not covered in this article? Please contact FBi Buildings at 1.800.552.2981 or click here to email us. If you’re ready for a price, click here to request a quote, and a member of our sales team will call you.


Can you build concrete on top of concrete? ›

You can put new concrete over old concrete. However, unresolved issues with your old concrete, such as cracks or frost heaves, will carry over to your new concrete if not taken care of. In addition, you must pour it at least 2 inches thick.

What is the life expectancy of a pole barn? ›

In fact, it is possible that with the proper care, pole barns could last upwards of 100 years. Many builders and experts cite 40-60 years to be on the safe side, but if the owner of a pole barn keeps up with all of the necessary structural upkeep, the building will likely outlast the 40-60 year pole barn lifespan.

How far apart can posts be on a pole barn? ›

Pole barn posts should be set up either 8 or 12 feet apart, depending on the barn size and design. This width allows for even weight distribution and overall strength of the pole barn.

What keeps pole barn posts from rotting? ›

Keeping water away from your pole barn posts is the most effective way to prevent rot. While preparing the site for your pole barn, take care in grading the soil away from your barn to discourage water from pooling around your pole barn posts.

How deep should a concrete pole barn be? ›

Six inches of thickness should be more than adequate for areas where heavy equipment will be driven and parked. For lesser loads, four inches.

Does concrete stick to old concrete? ›

The cement within a concrete mix doesn't contain any natural bonding agents – so when fresh concrete is added on top of an existing layer of concrete, the two won't join together. Once cured, the new concrete will simply sit on top as a separate layer. This will not produce a strong, serviceable floor.

Can you pour a thin layer of concrete over existing concrete? ›

How thin can you pour concrete over concrete? Your new layer needs to be at least 2 inches thick. If it's any thinner than that, it'll easily crack under pressure and won't adequately bond to your surface.

Can new concrete bond to old concrete? ›

Fact: Fresh wet concrete does not normally bond well to existing dry concrete.

Do pole barns hold their value? ›

Many homeowners find that their pole barn can add $10,000 or more to their home property value. Often, the value can be 50-80% of the cost of the barn itself, making it one of the best return-on-investments you can make for your property!

How far do Poles go in the ground for a pole barn? ›

Hole depth is determined based upon the frost heave in your area, wind speeds, wall size, building dead load and other factors. Northern climates frost heave is often 36" to 42" and post embedment is typically 4'.

Do pole barn posts rot? ›

Wood posts used in pole barns can succumb to the ravages of nature, rotting away in the soil. Rotted wood posts undermine the structural integrity of a post-frame building's foundation.

What size should a pole barn footer be? ›

16.96 inches x 2 = 33.94 inches = required footing diameter. Column and Wall Construction: Columns shall be three (3) ply un-spliced, reinforced spliced or solid wood and shall not be less than 6 inch nominal size. Columns shall comply with the requirements of Section R317 of the 2020 MSBC/IRC.

What size post is best for pole barn? ›

Post sizes are often 4x6, 6x6, 6x8, 8x8 or as required by design. These are set in the ground a minimum of 1/4 its' length, and at least 4'. Post may use 2x4 treated wood cleats nailed at the bottom of the post, concrete collars, rebar rods, or other anchors to provide uplift resistance.

Which is cheaper pole barn or stick built? ›

Building a pole barn can cost significantly less than constructing a stick-built structure. The foundation usually makes up over 15 percent of the cost of constructing a single-story building. A pole barn uses posts buried in the ground to support the weight of the walls and the roof.

What is the most economical size pole barn to build? ›

Any pole building with 12 foot post spacing is going to be the most efficient to build. At the same time, the width of a building affects the price because of the trusses. This means that a building that is about 20 X 36 is going to be the most cost-effective size.

Will wooden posts rot in concrete? ›

The bad stuff seeps downward right into the “Hot Zone”. Mix in some oxygen, the moisture from below, the fact that concrete holds a constant temperature and moisture, and those wood posts are going to prematurely rot. No exceptions.

Can you put a pole barn on a concrete slab? ›

To answer the question at hand, yes, you can build a new pole barn on existing concrete.

Does a pole barn need a ground rod? ›

You DO need two ground rods (if that's what you are using for a GEC [grounding electrode conductor]). You connect the GEC from the rods to the EGC bar and not the neutral bar.

Does a pole barn need a vapor barrier? ›

Moisture damage from rain, snow, and ice is a big no-no when it comes retaining the integrity of any building. Most buildings, especially those with metal roofing or siding, can benefit from a roof vapor barrier.

What concrete will stick to existing concrete? ›

QUIKRETE® Concrete Bonding Adhesive (No. 9902) permanently bonds new concrete, plaster, and stucco to existing concrete, plaster, and stucco. Eliminates the need for roughing the surface before the application.

Why does old concrete last so long? ›

Now, an international team has discovered a clue to the concrete's longevity: a rare mineral produced during chemical reactions between the concrete and seawater that strengthen the material.

Will concrete bind to concrete? ›

Concrete does not adhere to: Concrete – Dried concrete doesn't have any natural bonding agents, so in order to get wet concrete to bond to existing concrete, a bonding agent will need to be used. Molds – Most concrete molds are made from urethane rubbers, which are designed to be resistant to concrete bonding.

How thick can you overlay concrete? ›

Cementitious overlays can run from feather thin to several inches thick. In cases where the overlay will exceed 1/2 inch, contractors should consult with a framer.

How thick can you pour concrete overlay? ›

The minimum recommended thickness is 1 to 2 in. (25 to 50 mm) for a fully bonded concrete overlay placed on a base slab that is practically free of cracks and in which the concrete is sound, clean, and of good quality. The use of welded wire fabric reinforcement is usually not warranted under these conditions.

What do you put between old concrete and new concrete? ›

Bonded overlays use an adhesive bonding agent between the old concrete layer and the new to join them together. You can use this type of overlay if your existing concrete is too thin but in good condition otherwise.

Can you use old concrete as a base? ›

Old, unneeded concrete can be recycled and used to create recycled aggregate. In most cases, recycled aggregate will be used as a subbase material, but it can also be paired with virgin materials and reused as an aggregate in new concrete.

Will quikrete stick to old concrete? ›

A: QUIKRETE® Concrete Bonding Adhesive is specifically formulated for permanently bonding new concrete or plaster to old concrete or plaster.

Whats better metal or wood pole barn? ›

Higher Durability

Pole barns use wood poles and other framing materials, while metal buildings use materials like steel. Even though the shell of a pole barn is often metal sheeting, the wooden structural elements are less durable and present a costly problem for the future—rot.

Is a pole barn a write off? ›

The question is, “can a barn be a tax write-off?” The answer is yes!

What is difference between pole barn and post frame? ›

Post frame buildings are the modern equivalent of older pole barns. The only significant difference between a pole building in Coeur d'Alene and a post frame building is that modern post frame buildings are built using square posts––not round poles.

What are the pros and cons of a pole barn? ›

Pros and Cons of a Pole Building
UsabilityMost UseableLeast Useable
InsulationEasier to InsulateMost Difficult to Insulate
Finished InteriorEasier to FinishMost Difficult to Finish
Clear SpansNot as WideWidest
FoundationWood PolesConcrete Piers
8 more rows

Is a pole barn better than a steel building? ›

Pole Barns Pros

Less expensive - Pole barns are less expensive than steel buildings because no continuous foundation is required. You'll save a significant amount of money on both materials and labor. Faster to build - Pole barns go up much faster than steel buildings, also because no foundation is necessary.

Why is a pole barn cheaper? ›

Pole buildings require less wood or steel than more traditional types of buildings. In turn, the cost is cheaper due to fewer materials and a quicker construction process. If you do not need or want a concrete foundation, pole barns can save a lot of money.

Do you pour concrete around pole barn posts? ›

The best solution – and my recommendation – use a properly treated post, backfilled with pre-mix concrete in a monolithic pour. Place a minimum of six (and better eight) inches of concrete below the column and eight or more inches up the post (this is known as a bottom collar).

Do I need footings for a pole barn? ›

Soil is not usually able to resist applied vertical loads through a post alone. Pole barn posts should therefore be set on footings to provide additional support. Footings must be large enough in area to prevent the pole barn from settling under the weight of the building, snow, and minimum live load requirements.

How deep should a 10 ft pole be? ›

The general rule of thumb when setting a post is that the depth of the post's hole needs to be one-third to one-half of the actual above-ground height of the post.

How do you keep moisture out of a pole barn? ›

How To Prevent Pole Barn Condensation
  1. Ventilation. For starters, condensation occurs when warm air comes in contact with a cold surface. ...
  2. Insulation. The next crucial ingredient in preventing barn condensation is insulation. ...
  3. Vapor Barrier. A vapor barrier is another great solution to condensation control.
16 Dec 2019

How long will pressure treated posts last in the ground? ›

The life expectancy of pressure treated wood in the ground is about 40 years before it begins to rot.

How long will untreated 4x4 post last? ›

If properly treated and installed, pine fence posts can last for 20–35 years; untreated pine posts might only last 3–7 years.

Do you pour concrete before or after pole barn? ›

You should not have your concrete slab poured before building your pole barn. After the poles are set and skirt board is placed around the perimeter of the poles, you will have a form to pour your concrete foundation. Concrete is normally poured through the large door opening.

What kind of foundation do you use for a pole barn? ›

A pressure-treated column embedded into concrete back filled holes in the ground typically become the foundation for a pole building. Other foundation designs are available depending on the individual need of each client ranging to slab on grade with brackets, perma column, sonotubes and bracket foundation options.

How far apart should 4x4 posts be on a pole barn? ›

Ensuring your pole barn posts are within the range of 8-12 feet apart is the best bet for a sturdy and durable pole barn. There are lots of different pole barn designs and uses, but the basic construction will be the same process for most pole barns.

Which direction should a barn face? ›

“Siting a barn is always location specific, but generally we see structures facing in the east/west direction,” Benoit says. “Positioning your structure this way will allow the sun to travel over the top of the structure evenly.

What size footings do I need for a pole barn? ›

16.96 inches x 2 = 33.94 inches = required footing diameter. Column and Wall Construction: Columns shall be three (3) ply un-spliced, reinforced spliced or solid wood and shall not be less than 6 inch nominal size.

Do pole barn posts need to be in concrete? ›

Typically the soil is not able to resist applied vertical loads when those loads are transferred through the post alone. Therefore, the post is set on some type of a footing, which in the case of post-frame construction is usually concrete.

Does a pole barn slab need footers? ›

Soil is not usually able to resist applied vertical loads through a post alone. Pole barn posts should therefore be set on footings to provide additional support. Footings must be large enough in area to prevent the pole barn from settling under the weight of the building, snow, and minimum live load requirements.

What kind of foundation do you use for a barn? ›

A concrete frost wall is the best foundation for any custom building. Prior to pouring the foundation, the site needs to be cleared and footing trenches are dug below grade in accordance to code. This type of foundation is built using a continuous footing that is set below frost level.

Should I use nails or screws for pole barn? ›

Always use screws to attach your exterior steel siding to a structure. Compared to nails, the standard screws that we use generate significant pull-out resistance: 122% compared to ring shank and 352% compared to smooth shank.

Can you pour a footer without rebar? ›

Plain concrete deck foundations without rebar are acceptable under the minimum standards of construction established in the International Residential Code. However, placing reinforcing steel within footings is a relatively easy and inexpensive practice that can provide increased performance.

How thick should a concrete slab for a barn be? ›

How thick does the concrete slab for my shed need to be? The most common thickness for a shed slab is 150mm (6 inch), with one layer of reinforcing mesh. This is adequate for any farm machinery such as tractors.

Which is better steel building or pole barn? ›

Long-time Benefits of a Steel Barn Building over a Pole Barn

At best, pole barns may only last 15-20 years with expensive maintenance. A RHINO steel building will last decades longer than a pole barn.

Can you put a pole barn on a foundation? ›

The posts support the walls, so the floor can be made of wood, poured concrete, brick pavers, or even just gravel. Pole-barn foundations are ideal for large structures, especially if you're storing heavy equipment, such as tractors, boats, and trucks.

What is the best direction to face a barn? ›

“Siting a barn is always location specific, but generally we see structures facing in the east/west direction,” Benoit says. “Positioning your structure this way will allow the sun to travel over the top of the structure evenly.


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