Which Material Wins the Horse Race?

There are about 9.2 million horses in the U.S., with about 7.1 million Americans taking care of them. If you are among those involved as an owner, a service provider, or an employee, you should be aware of the quality of the barn that shelters these horses from the harsh elements. As a horse barn provider, one of the top questions from our prospective customers is, “Which type of horse barn is better for my location? Wood or Metal?”

While many classic images of horse ownership feature wood barns, the barn marketplace has changed to keep up with demand. For centuries, wood was the primary building material for barns, so it's often locked in our memories as the "best" barn material. 

However, you might be surprised to learn that metal horse barns are superior to wood ones in many ways. Plus, a high-quality metal barn can look every bit as beautiful as a wood one. 

Wondering what the difference between the two materials is, and how you can make the best choice for your horses? Here's what you need to know. 

Wood or Metal Horse Barns: What's the Difference? 

The main difference between a metal or wood barn is obvious - the material. It's about more than just looks: each material offers unique properties that can change the experience of using the barn, for both you and your horses. To make your decision, you'll need to weigh the benefits of each material against the drawbacks. 

How to Choose a Wood vs. Metal Horse Barn

Ready to make your choice? Here are the main factors that should influence your decision.

Durability & Strength

You can treat a wood barn to protect it from water damage, but it’s still susceptible to termite damage, mold and mildew, and other insects and infestations. You’ll never have to worry about termites with steel, and mold won’t seep into steel like it does to wood materials. 

Wood can match steel in strength with the right construction framework, and steel will dent from hail and other powerful storms. While wood is abundant and can offer lower costs than steel, bringing it up to strength standards can be costly. New “super wood” is available, but the technology is still new and the “densifying process” uses chemicals to strengthen the wood. With steel structures, you don’t need to worry about chemical additives or VOCs.

Cleaning & Maintenance

Metal horse barns can be easily and thoroughly cleaned with a pressure washer. Meanwhile, the natural crevices and cracks in wood require more maintenance to prevent water damage. Steel does not expand and contract with water exposure, eliminating the possibility of rotting, cracking, or warping. 


Wood barns do offer an attractive, vintage appearance. However, you'll need to wait much longer to see the finished result. Wood barns need to be built from scratch, while prefab metal barns come partially pre-assembled. 

With a metal horse barn, it's simply a matter of placing the order, filing the permits, preparing the site, and scheduling the delivery and installation. 

How long will it take for the delivery and installation of a metal horse barn? Use our Build It Online tool to get a price estimate and a delivery schedule today: 

Weather & Fire Resistance 

One of the main reasons to buy a horse barn is to protect horses from the elements and give them a sturdy place for feeding and care. Your barn will provide a place where they can escape from the elements and feel safe even during harsh winter weather and the during the heat waves of summer. It should also protect them from fire.

Wood can be damaged by water, while moisture control in metal buildings is easier to maintain. Steel is slower to break down from water exposure. Even in drier climates, barn structures are exposed to water through barn misting systems and evaporative cooling. Throughout years of water exposure, steel will show little to no damage, while wood will break down and weaken. 

And the obvious: wood is flammable, steel is fireproof. 


While some horse owners will always choose wood, there are many compelling reasons to opt for metal horse barns. One of the most popular reasons is sustainability; metal buildings are today’s green construction choice. Steel is one of the most recyclable materials available today. If you can classify your barn as a commercial building, energy tax savings may apply to your purchase. 

At MetalCarports.com, we may be biased toward metal barns vs. wood, but with good reason. They're easy to build, easy to maintain, and they are more durable than traditional wood. And with modern metal barn design, you can find a horse barn with a beautiful shape and color. Use our Build It Online tool to begin customizing your barn online.