Learn the Lingo: Building and Pole Barn Constrution Terminology

Below is a list of common jargon that we and other professionals use in the pole barn building industry. Knowing these words can help you, the consumer, have a better understanding of what goes into your pole barn construction project. If you have any further questions, feel free to contact the Keystone Construction team. We are your leading pole barn contractor in Kentucky and Tennessee!



An extension or increase in floor area or height of a building.


Agricultural Building

A structure designed for farm implements, hay, grain, poultry, or livestock.



A closure between two leaves of a double swing or split sliding door to close the junction.



A projection that provides weather protection or decoration and is supported by the building to which it is attached. An awning is a lightweight, rigid skeleton structure over which a covering is attached.



Concrete or other material that is placed into pre-bored holes around a structural building column. Backfill supports the post and relieves pressures on the protected soil.


Base Shear

The total design lateral force at the bottom of a column.



Distance between the adjacent mainframe (post-frames) centerlines or primary supporting members along the length of the building measured parallel to the ridge.



A structural component that is used for support in a building. It is often subjected to bending loads.


Beam and Column

A structural system consisting of a series of rafter beams supported by columns


Bearing Block

A dimensional lumber block placed beneath roof trusses, rafters, or beams and nailed or bolted to a support column to provide extra support for vertical loads.


Bottom Girt (Splash Boards)

Pressure-treated lumber installed at the grade line to which the bottom of the building siding is normally installed.



Piece of structural material, either temporary or permanent, serving to strengthen another member, or to hold the member in place.



Structural blocking used to give weak axis stability to floor joists or roof purlins.



Architectural projection providing weather protection or decoration and is supported by the building to which it is attached. A canopy is composed of a rigid structure over which a ceiling is attached.



Beam or column that is supported only at one end. A sidewall column of a roof-only structure is a cantilevered pole.


Chords (or Bottom Chord or Top Chord)

Inclined or horizontal piece that establishes the top or bottom of a roof truss.



Refers to the exterior building covering.



Rectangular primary structural piece sawn on four sides before treatment. It is the primary structural element of the building side and end walls.


Corbel (or Bearing Block)

Dimensional lumber block placed beneath roof trusses, rafters, or beams and nailed and/or bolted to a support column to provide extra support for vertical loads.


Corner Post

End wall column located at the corner of the building



Greatest point of bow or crook on a piece of lumber.



Deviation, in the wide face of a piece of lumber, from a straight line drawn from edge to edge of the piece.


Design Loads

Loads specified by the building codes to be used in building design. They include snow, wind, seismic and dead.



A structural assembly – including the timber framing (truss chords and purlins), structural sheathing (e.g. plywood, metal cladding), fasteners, and fastening patterns – capable of transferring in-plane shear forces through the cladding and framing members.


Dual Pitch Roof

A gabled roof system where the slope on one side is steeper than the other.



Edge of the building where the sidewall and the roof meet.


Elevated Floor (or Loft)

Second-story wood floor (normally plywood) supported by beams and joists.


End Bay

Bay adjacent to the end walls of a building.


Entry Door

Pre-hung, hinged door allowing for access into the building by turning a lockset.



Flat surface or covering located at the outer end of a sidewall roof overhang or cantilevered end.



The material used to raise the level of a grade.


Fire Wall

Fire resistance-rated wall that restricts the spread of fire and extends continuously from the foundation to or through the roof.



Sheet metal or plastic components used at major breaks and/or openings in walls and roofs to ensure weather-tightness in a structure and secondarily to enhance appearance.



Concrete placed under a structural column, wall, or structural member to transfer loads from main framing members to the soil by distributing loads over a greater soil area.



Substructure that supports a building or other structure.



Primary structural member (columns and rafters) that supports the secondary framing.


Full Hip Roof

Roof system without gables, where the roof slopes towards every wall. The line where two adjacent sloping sides of a roof meet is called the hip.



Triangular portion of the end wall above the eave line.


Gable Roof

A roof with one slope on each side. Each slope has an equal pitch.


Gambrel Roof

Traditional barn-style roof. Similar to a gable roof, but has a pitch change from steep at the eaves to a lesser slope approximately mid-point between the eave and ridge.



Large, horizontal beam used in post-frame buildings. Girders support trusses with bearing points that do not coincide with a post.



Horizontal, secondary framing members attached to end wall or sidewall columns to support wall coverings



Term used when referring to the ground elevation around a building.


Hairpins (Rebar)

Reinforced steel bars (rebar) used to tie an embedded post into a concrete slab.



Structural framing member supporting the ends of framework cut short by a floor, wall, ceiling, or roof opening.


IBC (International Building Code)

Unified national building code that sets guidelines for industry regulations and standards


Ice Dam

Buildup of ice that forms a dam on the roof.



Material used in building construction to reduce heat transfer or air movement.



Vertical framing members located at the sides of an opening.



Pieces of lumber arranged parallel from wall to wall in a structure to support a floor or ceiling.



Structure having only one slope and depending upon another structure for partial support.



A second-story wood floor supported by beams and joists.


Main Frame

Frame located between end walls of a building which supports the loads from a portion of each adjacent bay.


Main Wall

Typically the wall of a main building at the point where a shed roof attaches.



Tilted fascia system mounted to the wall outside the wall columns.



Intermediate floor placed in any story or room.


Overhead Door

Installs on vertical tracks to the inside face of two building columns. Opens upwards, typically by going around a bend in each of the vertical tracks allowing the opened door to be parallel with the floor and above the top of the door opening.



Sheet metal with a ribbed configuration used for roof and wall skin.



Portion of a vertical wall of a building that extends above the roofline at the intersection of the wall and roof.



Highest point of the roof that describes a horizontal line running the length of the building.



Rise or angle of the roof stated in inches of rise per twelve inches of horizontal run.



Round, unsawn, naturally tapered post.


Post (or Column)

Rectangular primary structural member sawn on four sides before treatment and is generally uniform in cross-section along its length. May be either sawn or laminated dimensional lumber. It is the primary structural element of the building side and end walls.


Post Frame

Structural building frame consisting of a wood roof truss or rafters connected to vertical timber columns or sidewall posts.



Main structural load carrying members of a system. Generally comprised of the columns, trusses, rafters, and other main support members.



Pounds per square foot.



Secondary horizontal framing member attached to roof rafters or trusses.



Sloping roof framing member.



Part of a roof projecting over the end walls. In the absence of an end wall overhang, the rake is the line along the end wall formed by the intersection of the wall and roof planes.



Amount of chemical preservatives added to wood to prevent decay, expressed in weight of preservative per cubic foot of material.



Highest point of the roof, which describes a horizontal line running the length of the building.


Ridge Cap

Transition of the roofing materials along the ridge of a roof.


Roof Truss

An engineered building component functioning as a structural roof support member. Made up of three or more members, with each member designed to carry a tension or compression force.



A vertical diaphragm in a structural framing system. The wall may be an end wall, sidewall, or an intermediate wall capable of transferring in-plane shear forces. In either case, the wall transfers shear forces from the roof or ceiling diaphragm to the groundline.



OSB, plywood, or steel roof covering which transfers roof load to purlins, rafters, or trusses.


Shed Roof

Slopes in a single direction. May be attached to the main building or free-standing.


Single Slope

Sloping roof in one plane. The slope is from one wall to the opposite wall.



Underside covering of roof overhangs or mansards.


Splash Boards (or Skirt Boards)

Pressure-treated lumber installed at the grade line to which the bottom of the building siding is normally installed.



Vertical side members of framed and paneled doors.



Vertical wall member to which exterior or interior covering or collateral material may be attached. May be either load-bearing or non-load bearing.


Trim (or Flashing)

Light gauge metal used to cover exposed edges of steel claddings, especially around openings and at the intersection of surfaces, or bare untreated lumber.



Natural or mechanical process of supplying conditioned or unconditioned air to, or removing such air from, any space.



Material on the lower few feet of a wall or walls, divided from the upper portion of the wall.

Choose Post-Frame Construction for Your Next Pole Barn Construction Project

The benefits you gain from a post-frame building are second to no other. With help from our professionals, we will help you to ensure that putting up your next commercial project is a memorable yet rewarding experience.


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