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Barn Frame Fundamentals: A Comprehensive Overview of Its Parts

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Discover the essential components of a barn frame in our insightful blog. Explore beams, braces, and rafters. Step away with a deeper understanding of barn construction and the most common barn frame styles found in Ontario.


Click play on the video and see a walk through the barn components in a 3-D model created by Krista, the owner of Veld architect.

Video: See a quick 3-minute tutorial explaining barn frame fundamentals.
barn frame parts
Diagram: A Comprehensive Overview of a Barn’s Components


  • A Bent is a section of timber frame, usually pre-assembled before erecting and composed of at least two posts and one tie-beam (collar-tie or tie-beam). Most English barn bents are formed and raised to sit crossways to the barn length. Denison frame bents are formed and raised to sit lengthways to the barn. Denison frames have no tie or collar beams. 


  • A Brace, also known as a Wind Brace: A short piece of dimensional timber, usually 4 to 5 inches in cross section and 3 to 4 feet long, and normally mortised into two larger timbers that are at right angles to each other. They provide strength and rigidity. 


  • Girt, Connecting Girt, Sheeting Rail, Nailers: Horizontal beams that join bents (posts) of a barn and normally act as nailers for the vertical external board sheeting.


  • Post/Column Plate, Top Plate: The long beam extending the length of the barn frame on top of the outside wall posts.


  • Post, column: A vertical barn timber 


  • Purlin: The long beam extending the length of the barn frame partway along and supporting the rafters. Supported by a queen post or purlin brace at each bent.


  • Rafter: One of a series of sloped structural members that extends from the ridge to the plate and eave. Designed to support the roof structure


  • Tie-Beam, Collar Beam, Collar-Tie: Main bent beam connecting posts at the front and back of the barn. Part of wall on end bents. Swing beams are specialized tie-beams


  • Swing Beam: A large strong tie-beam (collar beam) between opposing posts on an interior bent. Supported only at each end. In Ontario, swing beams normally support two canted queen posts, occasionally vertical queen posts, and rarely king posts.


All the parts described can be found in most barns, but they can be found in different configurations. There are three main styles of barn frames we encounter in Ontario.

different types of post of a barn frame
Diagram: Ontario Barn Frame Styles


  • High post: When the intermediate posts to the tie beam extent through the tie beam up to the roof purlin. Usually found in very wide barns or barns that have been added to or modified.


  • Canted Queen Post: A very common type of English barn in Ontario where queen posts are angled outward between tie-beam and purlins (usually being ninety degrees to rafters).
  • Queen Post: Post supporting Purlin. Often bearing on tie-beam. If bearing on the second level floor then usually bearing directly above stable posts. If angled from tie-beam then called canted queen post. There are always two queen posts per bent and rarely four, but always in multiples of two.


  • Kingpost: A barn post that supports the ridge board or ridge pole of a barn roof. Often bearing on a tie beam. There is only one king post per bent.

Those are barn types as they relate to timber framed. Timber-framed barns are made of large wood posts and beams, with large spans and spaces between members. Then there are dimensional lumber barns made from 2x materials spaced closer apart. These barns offer more flexibility in design and layouts, and generally, there are not clearly defined types. But there are defined features.

Need help understanding your barn type, its overall condition, and the feasibility of converting your barn? Learn more about our Barn Condition Report Service.

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