Barn & Arena Roofs | Choosing Best Roofing Options

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Horizon Structures Presents Series… Choose The Right Roof For Your Horse Barn or Indoor Arena

By Content Admin, 11/05/2018 - 3:58am

Blog By Nikki Alvin-Smith

When you try to choose the best roofing option between a shingle and metal roof for your horse barn or indoor arena there are some major aspects and advantages to each that you should know before you choose which type will work best for your horse operation.

Metal Roof Horse Barn

A metal roof is generally more expensive than a shingle roof hence the metal roof is usually an upgrade in modular buildings. Consider these factors when choosing the best roofing option for your horse barn or indoor arena.

Wind & Rain

The advantages of a metal roof over a shingle roof include good water run-off, especially if raised – or standing seam - roof panels are used.

Horse barn metal panels roof

An additional benefit of raised metal panels is that in the event of massive amounts of rainfall, such as during a hurricane, the roof will dispatch the water quickly through the channels and the raised portion where the nails attach the metal to the building are not compromised.

This rapid dispatch of run-off does mean you’ll need to consider adding gutters and leaders, to take the water away from the building at ground level.

Gutters are recommended for any horse building

Gutters are recommended for any horse building whichever type of roof you choose, as water always needs to be taken away from the building to ensure no flooding or drainage issues and helps reduce damage to the siding and foundation/pillars of the structure.

Singles on a Horse Barn

Today shingle manufacturers offer ratings for their architectural shingle designs that claim the roof can withstand winds as high as 130mph without shingles flying everywhere. Obviously proper installation is an important factor to ensure the roof will withstand high winds. A plastic water shield product should be used underneath the entire shingle roof in areas of high precipitation or hurricane prone regions.

Ice & Snow

If you have ever ridden in metal indoor arena you’ll know that when snow slides off the roof the noise of the snow first sliding down the roof and then the thump as it hits the ground can be unsettling to even the calmest horse. This generally happens at the warmest time of a winter’s day just as you’ve mounted up to take advantage of the better temperatures to ride.

It is imperative that you place doorways in the gable end of your building if you use a metal roof, because otherwise snow mountains could block the entrance/exit of the structure. These large mounds of fallen snow can also melt later to cause flooding inside the building if proper drainage and grade of the apron away from the building has not been affected.  To mitigate the noise of the snowfall, an insulation layer can be fitted beneath the metal roof, which will also prevent condensation.

Horse Barn in Snow

On the other hand, a shingle roof will tend to hold the snow and it will form an insulating layer. As that snow slowly melts and refreezes it may cause an ice dam at the edge of the roof and damage the shingle and aspirate to cause water to run inside the building.
The build up of ice on any roof, plus the large icicles that can hang from the edge can cause injury, so snow guards may be a prudent addition to the roof over doorways or areas of foot or hoof traffic and parking areas.

Snow build up on any roof adds considerable weight and it is imperative that your building is constructed to meet at least the minimum snow load rating for your geographic area.

Snow build up adds weight to your roof

Many townships require no permitting for agricultural buildings so the integrity of the structure is not guaranteed, and no-one is fact checking. A good building company will never cut corners in this way and will always meet or exceed the snow load requirements.

Heat and Noise

Wood is a natural insulator and you can expect a more peaceful barn life or indoor arena ride if your horses are not constantly jittery during periods of high rainfall or snow slides.

A shingle roof will be quieter for the use of the building’s occupants than a metal roof. Additionally it will not conduct the heat and cold as much as a metal roof, so it is important to consider both heat and noise factors in your construction project.

Leading horse structure building companies have much experience in both types of roof materials and can provide you with cost comparisons so that you can make the best decision for both your budget and your needs. Always check references before engaging any builder and ensure they are experienced in the correct installation methods for the roof type you have chosen.  


Nikki Alvin Smith

Nikki Alvin-Smith is a seasoned freelance writer who loves to share her lifelong experience with everything horse, farm and travel. Her work has been printed in more than two hundred equestrian magazine titles worldwide and her published articles number in the thousands including travel and lifestyle press.

A Brit who has called New York home for more than 37 years, Nikki brings a unique perspective to her writing.

Her experience as an international level Grand Prix dressage competitor, coach and worldwide clinician, with a youth spent showjumping and foxhunting, provides lots of educational truths and fun moments to share with the reader. Additionally she has been a horse breeder/importer of Hanoverian, Dutch and Iberian horses for 25+ years.

Together with her husband Paul, also a Grand Prix dressage rider, she lives in the beautiful Catskill Mountains of New York and operates an organic hay farm and dressage yard. She is the proud mother of three children, Tristan, James and Chelsea (twins), and the latter two have kept with the horse riding as adults.