Floors made of wood planks make a barn visually unique and are easy to maintain as long as they’re installed over a base that drains, such as road base, limestone or gravel. A wooden floor can be repaired or replaced fairly easily, but it may be trouble when it comes to traction. Wood gets very slippery when wet, and horses with studs on their shoes could become stuck.
For many barn owners, a floor made of rubber pavers, bricks or tiles is the floor of choice, but it’s expensive. A less expensive alternative is to place rubber mats over the concrete where horses stand for prolonged periods of time, like in grooming areas or wash stalls.
Topping It All Off
As mentioned in the first farm design article of this series, designing a ventilation system into your roofline helps create a healthy atmosphere in the barn and also adds visual appeal. A more steeply sloped roof will help snow slide off and creates a larger space in the interior of the barn. Hayward doesn’t recommend using that space for hay storage, but it can be utilized for other types of storage.
There are plenty of different types of roofing materials, but the benefits of some are different from the others. For example, tile or asphalt roofing will muffle the sound of heavy rain, whereas steel roofing will magnify it. The roofing material you choose also affects temperature and humidity control in your barn.
“In the most basic roof systems, you’ll see the bottom side of the roofing,” said Hayward. “The problem with that is condensation. I don’t care for it to rain indoors! The alternative is to install good quality, vinyl backed, rolled insulation with a vapor barrier. Insulation keeps things cool in hot climates and warm in cold climates. It takes care of the issue without breaking the piggy bank.”
Using steel as roofing also has a green benefit. In some areas of the country water is still a commodity, and installing a steel roof provides barn owners with a clean method of water capture.
“On Long Island [N.Y.] water is very important,” said Hayward. “They capture all their water in cisterns and use it for landscaping and for the animals.”
Steel roofing is inexpensive and requires little to no maintenance, but you have to consider the gauge, or thickness, of the material before purchasing.
“If it’s too thin, sometimes it will look buckled, and the finish may not look right. It’ll look just fine when you put it in, but five years down the road you’ll see the flaws. You get what you pay for when it comes to building materials,” said Hayward with a laugh. “You get what you pay for.”