What Is The Difference Between a Shed and a Barn? 

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Regarding storage buildings on your property, there are two general options to consider: a shed and a barn. Now, you’re probably not going to install a full-size bar in the back of your residential property as there may be ordinances in place with your town, city, or HOA. But, if you own a nice piece of land and have plenty of real estate to call your own, a barn might be an option. 

However, as the two building styles are similar, you might wonder what is the difference between a shed and a barn? It isn’t as simple as one building being larger and the other being smaller. There are other attributes to each you should be made aware of before moving forward with any kind of storage addition to your yard. Let’s break it down.

The Roof

Starting at top of the structure, one of the main differences between a barn and a shed is the design of the roof. Because barns are larger and, traditionally, designed to hold livestock, farm equipment, and large amounts of product, the roof is built using a Dual-Pitched roof.

The lower roof is steeper, and the upper roof is flatter. This not only increases the height in the center of the barn but can also helps alleviate the weight of water or snow.

Instead of running off in just one direction, it will run off in two. Some barns might even have a roof with a few more slants, but in general, the highest point of the barn roof is almost always above the barn doors/center of the construction.

While you can construct a shed in the fashion you see fit; most sheds have a roof that slopes in a single direction. Because the shed is smaller, it doesn’t need to space out the weight of snow or other debris that might fall onto the roof like a barn.


This is more a history lesson than modern practice, but everyone is familiar with the look of a red barn. Wherever you travel, no matter the countryside, if there is an aged barn, it more than likely is red. Why is that? When settlers first started building barns for storage, it cost far too much to actually paint such a large building. And yet, they still wanted to protect the building from the outdoor elements. So, they crafted a concoction made up of lime, red iron oxide, and skimmed milk. Putting together, this protected the wood from rot as it created a coating not all that different from plastic. Because the red iron oxide addition gave the barns a red look to it.

Over time, paint became less expensive. One of the cheapest paints to produce ended up being red. Other paints required more expensive pigments to create (which is why you will rarely see a blue farm building in the countryside). Because red was so inexpensive, farmers continued the tradition of painting their barns red, but this time it was due to the cost as well as the protective aspects of the paint.

Now, modern barns have painted any color, but it is why, whether you’re in North Carolina or Vermont, if you drive past an old barn, it is likely going to be red.

As for sheds, you can design a shed with just about any color possible. If you build the shed with wood, you can literally paint it whatever you would like. If you decide to go with metals, you do still have plenty of options, although both steel and aluminum will require specific metal paints. If you decide to go with a composite material, you will need to consult the manufacturer about whether you can paint it or not. The same is true with vinyl. While in some instances it is possible to paint the material, it often is not possible, and you will be stuck with whatever original color you decide on.

Design Your Ultimate Storage Building Today

Whether you need a small space to keep your outdoor lawn equipment or you have grander plans for your exterior storage, the best way to ensure your shed or barn can handle what you’re interested in is to design it from the ground up. The prefabricated or pre-designed buildings will not have the exact dimensions or features you’re looking for.

Instead, with the help of the team at Barnyard Utility Buildings, you can work with experts to design your building to ensure it checks off all of your boxes. All you need to do is give the friendly customer service staff a call.