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Types of Barns (with pictures)

Are you looking for inspiration for your new barn project? We have put together a list of several barn styles that cover a variety of functions and aesthetic styles.

Gorgeous sun rise sky, large rustic red country barn, big open field

Are you looking for inspiration for your new barn project? You’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to show you several barn styles that cover a variety of functions and aesthetic styles. Let’s get into it!

Table of Contents

Peaked Prairie Barns

White snow covered mountains, large golden wheat field, big fall trees, old western barn

More than likely, you’ve seen the T.A. Moulton barn in Wyoming’s Grand Teton National Park (in the Mormon Row Historic District/Antelope Flats) before. But did you know that it is an example of a Prairie Barn?

Prairie barns, sometimes called Western Barns, are large barns, with long, tall roofs that offer lots of storage space. Originally, these barns were used by settlers to store large amounts of hay and grain for cattle herds.

Usually, the bottoms of these barns had rows of stalls on either side of a wide aisle. The loft was typically filled with hay or grain sacks. A notable feature about this barn is the peaked roof, and the roof usually started relatively close to the ground, making it the largest component of the barn.

Eventually, these barn styles were replaced by the gambrel roof barn, because the gambrel roof design was able to hold more hay and grain with ease.

Shedrow Barns

These are one of the most common hobby horse barns on the market. They can be marketed as a modular barn, meaning they can be purchased and shipped into your property in one to three pieces.

Shedrow barns are commonly used for horses, especially for horsemen who have four or fewer equine. This is a cost-effective way to allow horses ample shelter. Many horse people opt to allow their horses 24/7 turnout with their shed row barn always open and available for when the horses want to go inside.

The defining features of a shed row barn include three to four-sided single-story structures with a built-in posted overhanging porch overtop the entrance to each of the stalls.

Some cattlemen use shedrow barns to house cattle, though this isn’t extremely common.

Look at this absolutely gorgeous shedrow horse barn. The open breezeway, that large tack room, the stone accent half wall, and the wood detailing throughout are dreamy and so functional. Of course, that matching fence isn’t too bad on the eyes either.

One perk to having a shedrow barn is how close the tack and feed storage is to your animals. While they almost always lack hay storage or wash racks, their affordability, practicality, and easy-to-clean floorplan really make up for it.

Gambrel Roofed Barn

Cloudy sky, green grass, big winter tree, old rust red barn with white windows and doors

The Gambrel roof was a huge improvement to the agricultural world (and really the world in general) due to the increased loft capacity that it granted.

A gambrel roof, sometimes called a Dutch Colonial Roof, is defined by two additional slopes on each side of the center of the barn. The top of the barn starts with a mild pitch, and then the second slope of the roof below that was more severe and pointed downwards.

Many farmers and ranchers have decided to replace their gable roofs with gambrel roofs because of the increased storage.

The invention of this barn finally allowed pioneers, farmers, and ranchers to start building larger barns than ever before. As a result, they could farm more land, and raise more livestock.

Blue sky, green trees, large, red metal barn, gray roof, green field with tiny white flowers

Gambrel roof barns do not have to be constructed of a certain material to meet the criteria for this barn type. As you can see in the above photo, this is a newly constructed pole gambrel roof barn that is made almost exclusively with metal.

Something I appreciate about this barn is the clear polycarbonate panels that are just below the roofline. This will allow lots of lighting into the barn during the day, something that many barns lack.

The multiple doors and windows will also come in handy on hot summer days, opening those will give a refreshing, much-needed cross-ventilation.

New World Dutch Barn

New World Dutch Barns were most commonly used by the very first European settlers in North America. Few remain today; there is estimated to be less than six hundred left in total.

In America, this barn-style lasted from the 1620s well into the 1820s. In Europe, however, these barns date all the way back to the eleventh century.

This is a very square, symmetrical barn. They feature a gabled roof, and the barn itself is supported by purlin plates, anchor beam posts, and stone piers. The pegged (no nails used) beams were H-shaped units. This made the barns structurally sound and gave early European settlers the space they needed to thresh indoors.

The walls held very little of the structural weight, meaning that large swaths of the walls could be knocked out for extra utility, ventilation, or windows. With that said, most original New World Dutch Barns only had one or two doors, no windows, and no other openings.

New World Dutch Barns were primarily used for threshing, animal feed storage, to house animals, tool storage, and to even offer shelter to the occasional overnight guest.

English A-Frame Gabled Barn

This barn was another early American barn-style design. English barns were usually constructed by small groups of neighbors, and most of the time these settlers didn’t have many fancy materials on hand. As a result, the English A-Frame Gabled barn is noticeably sweet and simple.

These barns have square bases and A-frame roofs. The square base could be built by one farmer, and the A-frame could be built by one man and later lifted into place with the help of some work mules and friends- or be built directly on top of the base by a small group of helpers.

Most of these barns were built to be approximately thirty feet wide and forty feet long, with the doors uniquely placed on the longer sides of the barn.

Many of these barns were used as milking parlors.

Some of the barns were constructed exclusively with regional timber, others cleverly implemented rocks. When rocks were used, “loophole” ventilation slits were built-in because rock doesn’t breathe as well as wood does. You can see an example of this in the barn above.

Bank Barn or Banked Barn

Bank barns, also called banked barns, are most commonly found in the UK, though some still exist in the United States for American Farmers as well.

This unique style of barns is popular amongst farmers because they are so accessible. The barn is built into a hillside so that on one side of the barn, you can walk or drive a buggy into the ground level. And then from the other side of the barn, you could walk or drive into the second-story loft. Farmers either used hills already existing on their property or mounded the ground up to artificially create the earthen ramp.

These barns naturally maintain a more comfortable temperature all year long thanks to their integration with the earth. This made them the perfect shelter for animals and people alike. Most barns had space for cattle, horses, or sheep to take shelter in the back of the barn on the first floor, usually in the “in-ground” end of the barn.

Bank barns almost always used the ground floor as a threshing floor. Hay or corn was typically held in the second story on each side of the barn.

In the Pennsylvania Bank Barn, settlers would store hay in the second level and house livestock or milk dairy cattle on the first level.

In the New England Bank Barn, cattle, hay storage, and grain storage occupied the main level, with a tack room, workshop, or tool storage in the basement. These were the easiest barns for farmers to store grain in because the heavy carts could be driven directly inside, with no lifting needed.

Some Bank Barns feature three or even four floors, depending on the size of the operation, the materials available, and the workforce available.

Pole Barns

Pole barn structure on dirt, blue sky, morning sunrise

Pole barns are the most common of all modern barn styles today.

Pole barns get their name from the 1930s when farmers used old telephone poles to construct their barns. Today, as you can see above, pole barns are made from wooden posts. These posts are buried underground or into a thick slab of concrete. These barns do not need a foundation (though a foundation can be used if so desired); the poles are the main component of the barn.

Pole barns do not have any other criteria aside from their poles to be classified this way. This means they can fall under several other names, depending on the roof and style selected (such as an a-frame roof, gabled roofs, gambrel roof, etc. . Pole barns can also be called a gambrel barn, gable barn, gable barns, gambrel barns, etc. and still be correct.

These barns offer much more storage space than other popular barn styles, and can easily be used to store feed, hold living quarters, equipment storage, and more, under one giant roof.

Corn Crib Barn

Big open farm field, small distressed wooden corn crib barn, cloundy blue sky

Corn crib barns, like the one shown above, were created to store freshly picked ears of corn. Their purpose was to house corn in a dry, well-ventilated environment until the corn had fully dried out and was ready to be shelled from the cob.

Corn crib barns rarely had doors, and each side of the barn was outfitted with two corn cribs. The crib sections had wide slats in between the boards for added ventilation. In between the cribs was a spacious center aisle where wagons could be parked or temporary tables could be set up for farming families to shell the corn when it had dried.

Octagonal, Polygonal, or Round Barns

Large round red barn with white trimmed windows all around, dark colored roof, green grass and trees

Circular barns have a greater volume-to-surface area ratio, making them space-efficient. They were also convenient for feeding and milking cattle, cheaper to build, they required fewer materials, and their round design made it easier for them to stand up against prevailing winds.

These barns were most popular from 1880 to 1920 in the midwestern states of the United States.