Shown here after completion,
the barn is painted with a solid stain called barn red. Let's go through how we
got to this point...
Before anything can be done, the foundation must
be laid out and checked. With a septic system in the back
yard, there is really only one site for this barn.
Step one is to dig trenches for footings, being
careful to follow the layout lines.
The trenches are set with concrete forms, and,
later, rebar to reinforce the footings.
Concrete is delivered and poured through the
trenches, then left to set-up for a few days.
Block walls are constructed, going down at least
three feet to the footings below the frost line. Door openings
are left open.
Next, the concrete slab floor is poured and the
sill plates are set.
The first studs in the walls are tricky.
This will be a one and a half story balloon frame (explained below)
and the 2x6 studs are about 13 feet tall. working alone, the walls
are built stud by stud rather than raised as a unit.
As the walls are built, they are braced to keep
them straight and to keep them from falling over before they are
Thinking ahead, some parts receive plywood
sheathing early because the panels are in an intersection meeting
A main beam runs down the middle of the structure
to hold the second floor joists. Made of 2x12 lumber three
wide, the beam is a challenge for a single person to raise atop the
6x6 columns, but where there is a will there is a way.
The one and a half story barn is constructed with
a balloon frame. That means that the studs run all the way up
to the roof rafters, rather than being broken into two separate
walls for each floor. This adds strength for this particular
design, but this old method has not been commonly used since the
turn of the last century.
This close-up shows
the balloon frame construction. The floor joists of the second
floor overlap the studs and are bolted to the sides. A ribbon
of wood is let-in to the studs to provide further support for the
joists. The studs going all the way up to the roof rafters
will help to resist the outward thrust of the rafter bottoms.
The second floor joists also lay over the main
beam, and are then bolted together to provide a continuous path from
one wall to the other.
With the walls up, the sheathing is next.
Posts which will support the porch roof are placed too.
With all the plywood sheathing installed, the
structure looks like some strange wooden prison compound, but the
old-fashioned design will reveal itself soon enough.
This picture shows the inside of the lean-to shed
addition off of the back of the barn. These rafters go up
before the main rafters so that there is a staging area in order to
get materials to the main roof.
Words cannot describe what it is like to be 26
feet in the air, with nothing to hold onto or to break your fall,
and to set a heavy 2x12 ridge board all alone while the wind
whistles through your swaying ladder.
As the ridge is set,
opposing 2x10 rafters, each about 18 feet long, are nailed in place
to create the roof structure.
The process continues down the line. To give an
idea of size and proportion, the step ladder in this photo is a 12
footer--twice the typical household size.
The roof can be sheathed with plywood after the
rafters are set. This roof pitch is 10/12, meaning that for
every 12 inches of run there is 10 inches of rise. The steep pitch
requires careful work.
Finally the structure is completely sheathed--a
big step toward weathering in.
The shed addition can be seen here from the side.
Notice the white fascia boards installed in preparation for the roof
Back inside the structure, the second floor is
built, using 2x6 tongue and groove boards put down individually.
The bottom of these floor boards will show as the ceiling below.
With the weather now turning bitter-cold and even
snowy, a jobsite fire helps keep spirits up and to burn off scraps
With weather continuing to be an issue, the inside
work continues. Here the stair-stringers leading to the second
floor are custom made on site.
The outside of the structure is made weather tight
with shingles on the roof and building felt or "tar paper" on the
walls. Wood strapping is attached to hold the vertical barn
board siding. Window and door openings will be cut out later.
The pine siding lumber is delivered from a sawmill
in a rough cut, green state. It must be dried out as much as
possible, primed with a solid stain front and back, and a shiplap
profile must be machined on each board edge.
As the first siding boards go up on the corners,
the window openings are cut out too and the eight windows are
Each window is trimmed out as the siding is nailed
up around it.
The entire building is sided, board by board,
until only the large sliding door and double doors in the back are
From the second story a set of double doors opens
up to the outside. A beam sticking out from above lends
authenticity to the barn structure, even though it won't be used to
lift hay or straw up top.
Just as the siding is finished, another snow
squall comes through overnight.
The structure now has taken shape as an old barn
and fits more comfortably in its role.
The double doors in the shed area are installed,
as is a sliding door under the porch roof.
Inside the main structure the sliding door is
visible, as are the lights above.
The stairs leading up top are complete and the
6x20 entry vestibule is seen through the large opening.
The second floor is open with eight feet of
headroom to the collar ties. The double doors opening to the
front can be seen here.
Inside the shed addition off the back of the barn
you can see the crushed stone floor and double doors allowing large
items like ladders to be easily stored.
The interior is finished off with simple,
The space inside the first floor of the main
structure is substantial and open.
With the weather warming, a second coat of stain
is added and the grass is restored around the structure.
An apple tree in front of the barn provides a
beautiful contrast to the outline of the new barn.
Once in a great while I get to do some work for myself. Faced
with the ever-rising clutter in our basement, garage and attic, we
decided not to rent storage space but to build the kind of barn that
would fit in with our semi-rural area and provide all sorts of room
for keeping the things we hold dear.
A new barn must be built according to modern codes, but the
character and charm of an old barn can still be created with careful
planning and attention to detail.
Taking some time away from my clients, I undertook alone the
challenge of raising a barn for our family. The main structure is
two floors, each 24x36, with the bottom floor also having a 6x20
entry area. A shed addition off of the back of the structure adds
another 12x24 area.
--John Painter, Owner