How Do I Keep My Pole Barn Posts from Rotting?

Combatting Wood Rot in Post-Frame Structures

What’s the one issue property owners and contractors dread when dealing with post-frame construction? Wood rot! Unfortunately, with the proximity of wood columns to moisture, with some set directly in the soil, frames of pole barns tend to be susceptible to rot and deterioration. Worse yet, when wood rot impacts a column, little can be done to correct it (outside of replacement). Thus, contractors do everything they can to prevent wood rot in the first place! Certain materials and different construction methods help limit the potential for wood rot in post-frame structures in Illinois and the Midwest. Additionally, Anthem Built supplies products that can help keep your pole barn posts from rotting. Call today to learn how!

The corner of a post-frame structure with a rotted wood column

What Causes Wood Rot?

Wood rot in post-frame structures, especially within regions like Illinois and the broader Midwest, continues to be a problem that plagues post-frame contractors. However, it isn’t because of a lack of knowledge about what causes wood rot. Instead, a lack of innovation in post-frame design and construction has allowed this issue to continue. Some known factors that can cause wood rot in a structure’s posts include:

  • Direct contact with soil exposes wood columns to moisture and organisms living in the soil, which can initiate and accelerate decay.
  • Poor drainage around the structure leads to water accumulation at the base of the posts, further enhancing the conditions for rot.
  • Inadequate ventilation within the building can trap moist air around the wood columns, and over time, this moisture can permeate the wood, promoting fungal growth that leads to rot.
  • Failure to treat the wood with proper preservatives or to use naturally rot-resistant wood species leaves wood columns vulnerable to decay from the moment they were installed.

How Can Wood Rot Be Stopped?

Some post-frame construction methods and material choices help prolong the appearance of wood rot and can sometimes outright prevent it! However, it takes skilled contractors during construction to implement many of these protections. Otherwise, you’ll face column repairs later down the line, which are significantly more challenging to implement. These are the ways wood rot can be prevented in post-frame columns:

  • Elevate the Wood – Using concrete piers or footings that keep the wood posts above ground level can drastically reduce soil exposure to moisture and insects. This method ensures that the post base is not in direct contact with the soil.
  • Utilize Post Protectors – Post protectors, such as plastic sleeves (or some Anthem Built products), can be used to encase the portion of the post that goes into or near the ground. These protectors create a barrier between the wood and the soil/moisture.
  • Proper Drainage Systems – Implementing effective drainage systems around the structure can prevent water accumulation at the base of the posts. Sloping the terrain away from the building or using French drains are viable solutions.
  • Ventilation Improvement – Enhancing ventilation within the barn can significantly reduce moisture levels around wood columns. This might include installing vents or fans to circulate air and dissipate condensation.
  • Use Treated Wood – Opting for wood that has been pressure-treated with preservatives (must have a minimum UC-4B rating) can extend the life of wood posts.
  • Regular Maintenance and Inspection – Regular checks for early signs of rot and moisture ingress allow for timely interventions.

How Does Anthem Built Respond to Wood Rot?

Thanks to the specialized post-frame products produced by Anthem Built, wood rot can be prevented and even fixed! We create unique components that attach to post-frame columns to create a stronger base protected by galvanized steel. Additionally, many of our components provide additional strengthening, protection and straightening at the base of columns, helping prevent settlement and soil shifting issues. These products include:

The inside of a post-frame structure after having its column's repaired using column repair sleeves. A great answer to How Do I Keep My Pole Barn Posts from Rotting?
  • Column Repair Sleeves – By affixing a Repair Sleeve to a new or compromised wood column, its base is reinforced without requiring expensive and extensive excavation work.
  • Column Covers – In conjunction with Repair Sleeves, our Column Covers completely enclose a post, protecting it from further exposure to moisture and increasing its uplift strength.
  • Repair Sockets – If a column doesn’t sit in soil but on a concrete base, Anthem Built’s Repair Sockets provide the most possible support. Our Repair Sockets securely connect the base of columns to concrete, covering the portion of columns most likely to rot.
  • Galvanized Grade Boards – Standard grade boards attach to the bottom of columns to help align them and keep your structure’s frame straight. However, standard grade boards are wood, which can easily warp and deteriorate. Conversely, Anthem Built’s Grade Boards are made from galvanized steel.

Whether you want to protect your columns from the ravages of wood rot or repair columns that are already affected, Anthem Built has the perfect solutions for your post-frame construction and repair needs. To learn more about our products and find an installer near you, call 815-780-0206. Or, if you wish to become an Anthem Built Installer yourself, fill out our online form.