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FBi Buildings vs Arnold Lumber Pole Barn Kits: Who’s Best for Your Project?

August 17th, 2020 | 26 min. read

Cori Lane

Cori Lane

Cori grew up on her family's small grain and livestock operation in Northwest Indiana. In 2018, she graduated Summa Cum Laude with a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration & Marketing from Marian University Indianapolis. Having shown beef cattle for 12 years at the county, state, and national levels, Cori chose to pursue a career in agriculture. Today, she serves as the Marketing Content Creator on the FBi team. In her free time, Cori enjoys spending time with family and friends, watching sports, listening to live music, and traveling.

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Our next builder comparison features Arnold Lumber.

This construction center sells agricultural and residential building kits in the Midwest. They’re not to be confused with a Rhode Island LBM dealer of the same name.

In this blog, we present the facts and strengths of each pole barn builder. Our goal is to provide you with a better understanding of how FBi Buildings compares to Arnold Lumber before making a buying decision.

Pole Barn Quote_FBi Buildings

FBi Buildings vs Arnold Lumber: 7 Key Differences to Look For


1) Customer Service

FBi Buildings

Project_Manager2From the initial inquiry to the final call with your Project Manager (PM), FBi ensures that you’re aware of every step involved with your post frame building.

Each customer is assigned their own Project Sales Consultant (PSC) that lives in their area.

Currently, FBi has PSCs spread throughout Indiana, Illinois, Eastern Iowa, and Southern Michigan covering their designated territories. 

This arrangement allows your PSC to discuss your building needs in person, walk the property, and identify an ideal location for a new pole barn.

Once the contract is finalized and construction is ready to start, you’ll be introduced to your Project Manager. They’ll schedule crews, review building changes, handle payments, and answer questions.

FBi’s Project Management team will outline your post frame project into four construction phases:

  • Processing: An overview of your building project from the signed purchase agreement to the down payment. FBi will go over site preparation, permitting, and give you an approximate start date.

  • Design and Permitting: FBi will follow up with you regarding your building permits and site prep updates. Your PM will review drawings and confirm the expected start date.

  • Pre-Mobilization: Your PM will verify that site prep via inspection. If approved, the construction crews and material delivery will be scheduled.

  • Construction: The final phase details the main milestones that will happen during or after construction.

Are you interested in building your own pole barn? FBi offers various material packages using high-quality products from the ground up. If needed, this option includes on-site consultation, giving DIYers peace of mind.


Arnold Lumber

Arnold Lumber’s customer service approach differs from FBi’s. Instead of having a dedicated sales and project management team, you’ll have one point-of-contact until the construction process. 

Arnold Lumber sells the pole barn kit, meaning you’re responsible for:

  • Filling out a site plan
  • Pulling permits (if required)
  • Purchasing builders risk insurance at property owner’s expense
  • Providing electric (or generator) and trash removal services for construction crews
  • Marking driveways (lack thereof or any tow bills will be at the property owner’s expense)
  • Constructing the building pad with post hole auger friendly material within +/- 3 inches (additional excavation or code enforcement will be at the property owner’s expense)

Overall, there are a lot of risks involved. For many people, it’s worth it. Do you agree?


Who has the best customer service?

FBi wins this category for providing assistance every step of the way. You’ll work with the same PSC and PM from start to finish. They’ll pull the necessary permits and make sure your site preparation is right on track. Whereas, Arnold Lumber is no longer involved with the building project once it’s handed over to the subcontracted construction crews.

FBi even offers builders risk insurance for the first year. This policy protects you from theft, storm damage, or vandalism that may occur during construction.

FBi vs Arnold Lumber Pole Barn Kits_FBi Wins

Design Your Pole Barn_FBi Buildings

2) Service Areas

FBi Buildings

Kenny SalesFBi is a family-owned post frame construction company that started in 1958. Their corporate headquarters is located in Remington, Indiana.

During their 60+ years, they’ve been known as the preferred post frame builder in the Midwest.

As mentioned above, their service area is limited to Indiana, Illinois, Eastern Iowa, and Southern Michigan.

Do you have a unique building project outside of their territory? They’ll pursue other options to see if it’s feasible for them to be your post frame builder.


Arnold Lumber

Arnold Lumber sells pole barn kits in Indiana, Ohio, and Southern Michigan. Their full-service lumber yard and hardware store are located in Decatur, Indiana.


Who has the best service areas?

FBi wins this category. With 140+ counties in four different states, their coverage can’t be beaten by Arnold Lumber.

FBi vs Arnold Lumber_FBi Wins-jpg

3) Pole Barn Materials


FBi Buildings

FBi_Rust_Resistant_SteelFBi’s metal panels are 29-gauge, heat-treated, full-hard, high-tensile steel with a minimum yield point of 80,000 PSI (pounds per square inch). That’s 60% to 78% higher than what’s commonly used.

A higher yield contributes to overall steel strength and improves the structural integrity of your pole barn by providing greater resistance to impact damage.

Their post frame buildings feature galvalume steel (roof and walls) coated with aluminum-zinc alloy by a continuous hot-dip process. This coating consists of 55% aluminum and 45% zinc, with a small silicon dose for fighting corrosive elements.

Depending on your pole barn colors, FBi will use galvanized steel panels on their walls. Unlike galvalume, galvanized metal is subject to corrosion once the coating wears off.


Arnold Lumber

Ramco Supply manufactures Arnold Lumber’s metal panels. They use 29-gauge steel with a minimum tensile strength of 80,000 PSI. Ram-Panels can “stand up to the most severe weather conditions, including ice, driving wind, or heavy snow.”

The metal panels are coated with galvalume, which “assures low maintenance, durability, and edge protection with a limited 25-year 6-month warranty.”

Before painting, an acrylic layer is applied over the galvalume sheet. This treatment is invisible and enhances steel performance.


Who has the best steel?

Both post frame companies install 29-gauge/80,000 PSI steel with galvalume coating. They feature unique siphon grooves that prevent building leaks. Therefore, this section is a tie between FBi and Arnold Lumber.

FBi vs Arnold Lumber Pole Barn Kits_Tie




FBi Buildings

The type of wood that FBi uses is dependent on the building design.

For example, if you’re interested in a cold storage building with large clear-span trusses, then FBi will use Machine Stress-Rated (MSR) lumber. Each piece of MSR lumber is tested for stiffness and strength before installation.

FBi uses #1 Southern Yellow Pine (SYP) lumber for post frame projects that require smaller trusses.

Arnold Lumber

During our research process, we were unable to determine the type of wood Arnold Lumber uses in their building process. That’s not to say they don’t incorporate quality components in their pole barn kits.


Who has the best wood?

FBi has a slight edge over Arnold Lumber. They use MSR lumber throughout their post frame structures, which consistently reinforces building rigidity. 

FBi vs Arnold Lumber_FBi Wins-jpg


FBi Buildings

FBi Buildings_Screws_vs_Nails_Post_Frame_BuildingFBi uses a stainless steel capped, self-sealing screw. The screw fastener encapsulates the sealing washer to protect it from the elements and improve aesthetics. 

The washer maintains its seal and is more reliable than commonly used neoprene; thus, offering superior heat, cold, weather, and ozone resistance.


Arnold Lumber

Unfortunately, we don’t know what type of screw Arnold Lumber uses in their building process. 


Who has the best screws?

FBi is the better choice because all of their screws are stainless steel. Each screw head forms an “umbrella.” Without this extra defense layer, your pole barn is more susceptible to leaks and rust

FBi vs Arnold Lumber_FBi Wins-jpg


FBi Buildings

Pole Barn Trusses Structural IntegrityFBi’s trusses are manufactured by their in-house truss plant and engineered specifically for your pole barn.

Their truss plant is regularly certified by a third-party inspection service (e.g., Truss Plant Institute) to ensure the quality fabrication of all trusses.

The lumber used to build the trusses are joined with heavy-duty steel plates.

FBi’s trusses are interlocked – not just attached – to the laminated columns with structural screws. It provides the same strength as bolts, but for less money.

Moreover, FBi is the only post frame builder to screw roof purlins onto the trusses. Testing has proved that screws provide greater uplift resistance than nails.

Typically, purlins are spaced no more than 2’ on center. The spacing and orientation depend on how far apart the trusses are spaced.


Arnold Lumber

The only mention of trusses on Arnold Lumber’s website is that they’re hung 4’ on center. Their trusses are nailed to the headers with no interlocked connection to the solid 6x6 posts.

In some cases, Arnold Lumber may use knee braces, which are diagonal pieces of lumber that connect to the sidewall columns. This building component's effectiveness depends on the truss-to-column connection or header connection in their case.


Who has the best trusses?

FBi wins this category because of their in-house truss plant and quality control. They incorporate MSR lumber into their trusses, which allows for longer and stronger spans.

Typically, trusses are spaced 8’ on center. Arnold Lumber’s placement may result in lower truss strength. Because solid 6x6 posts can’t be interlocked, their truss-to-column connection is weaker. Your pole barn’s load path may be affected. 

Not to mention, FBi’s screwed-on purlins are a game-changer in the post frame industry. This fastener is less likely to be uplifted by forces, reducing the chances of rolled purlins and roof failure.

For more information on trusses, we recommend downloading our FREEStructural Integrity in Post Frame Construction” e-book. This guide highlights the do’s and don’ts when looking to build a new pole barn.

FBi vs Arnold Lumber_FBi Wins-jpg

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FBi Buildings

Paint Comparison_FBi BuildingsFBi’s roof and wall panels are finished with the Kynar 500® paint system.

This type of paint is baked-on for excellent resistance to fading, chalking, or corrosion. Their panels are known to maintain their vibrant color for 40+ years.

Do you need help picking a color scheme? Check out these tips for selecting the perfect pole barn color combination.


Arnold Lumber

Arnold Lumber’s steel manufacturer finishes their panels with Sherwin-Williams’ WeatherXL. 

This silicone-modified polyester (SMP) formula means “stronger protection, more durability, and better metal paint endurance.” You can choose from 21 color schemes with a limited lifetime warranty.


Who has the best paint?

Both paint systems are well-known applications in post frame construction, but FBi gets the win for using Kynar 500. 

It’s a softer paint compared to SMPs, meaning it’s less likely to fracture during metal manufacturing. Plus, Kynar 500 offers “superior chalk resistance, fade protection, gloss retention, and film integrity.”

FBi vs Arnold Lumber_FBi Wins-jpg


FBi Buildings

Perma_Column_2There are two types of ground contact when pricing your pole barn columns: Laminated Posts and Perma-Columns®.

Similar to their trusses, FBi creates their laminated posts in-house. These columns have greater longevity than solid posts. Each layer of lumber is completely permeated with wood preservative and kiln-dried. It prevents rot and termite damage.

But not all column treatments are equal. FBi uses columns that are treated with 0.80 lb./cu. ft. of Chromated Copper Arsenate (CCA) wood preservative. That’s 33% more than industry standards, which you’ll find at hardware stores and lumber yards.

Alternatively, you can opt for Perma-Columns, which are precast concrete columns sized to fit any laminated or solid post. 

This solution is guaranteed to withstand insect damage, decay, and rotting. No wood goes into the ground.

Using 10,000 PSI precast concrete, Perma-Columns are 3x stronger than standard concrete. Then, the columns are reinforced with 60,000 PSI rebar welded to a ¼’’ steel bracket.

Furthermore, Perma-Columns include microfibers to add shock resistance and durability. Microsilica enhances compressive strength and erosion resistance. 

The corrosion inhibitor protects the rebar reinforcement and brackets from rusting. A final admixture is added for freeze and thaw protection.


Arnold Lumber

As mentioned above, Arnold Lumber has their own lumber yard where they stock up on 6x6 posts. Their columns are treated, but the wood preservative is unknown. 

Similar to FBi, customers can upgrade to a more sustainable solution that is Perma-Columns.


Who has the best columns?

While Arnold Lumber uses 6x6 posts, FBi wins this category for using #1 SYP 2x6 or 2x8 laminated columns. Bigger posts won’t necessarily make your building stronger. Again, solid 6x6 posts can’t be interlocked, resulting in a weaker truss-to-column connection.

Note: Arnold Lumber supplies a standard 4’’ x 12’’ diameter pole pad under the posts. If other footing is required, it’ll be at the building owner’s expense. Whereas, FBi’s in-house engineering team will determine the pad size based on assumed soil bearing pressure. No extra costs incurred.

FBi vs Arnold Lumber_FBi Wins-jpg

Pole Barn Quote_FBi Buildings


FBi Buildings
Sliding Doors

Step_Saver_LatchFBi’s EasyMotion sliding door was introduced to the market in 2010. One of the perks included with this door option is the StepSaver Latch, which will save you time and energy.

No more running around to the walk-in door to disengage cam latches and snugger chains. You can get inside your building in less time. Just turn the key and grab the handle. It’s that simple!

The EasyMotion door features the Posi-Guide Track. It’s an exclusive weatherproof system that ensures your sliding door opens and closes smoothly all year round.

The guide doesn’t collect rain, ice, snow, or debris (i.e., birds’ nest and leaves). A unique low-friction polymer roller is protected behind and underneath the track. This interlocking system keeps the door snug to the building.

FBi offers the following center guide options for your sliding door:

  • Wood center door stub
  • Concrete center door stub (wet or dry)
  • Concrete apron approach (wet or dry)
Overhead Doors

Overhead doors aren’t a standard feature on FBi pole barns. If you want to install an overhead door, FBi will work directly with their preferred vendors to get the style and size needed.

FBi’s engineers will carefully evaluate the entire building system and specify the necessary foundation, column, and header sizes needed to carry out the anticipated loads for each door.


Arnold Lumber
Sliding Doors

Arnold Lumber’s sliding door sizes vary by pole barn kit. You can choose from the following options:

  • 30’ x 40’ x 12’ with (1) 16’ x 11’ split sliding door
  • 40’ x 64’ x 14’ with (1) 20’ x 14’ split sliding door
  • 48’ x 80’ x 14’ with (1) 20’ x 12’-6’’ and (1) 24’ x 14’ split sliding door
  • 60’ x 120’ x 14’ with (1) 20’ x 12’-6’’ and (1) 24’ x 14’ split sliding door

If you purchase a custom building, you may have more options to choose from. For more information, you’ll need to contact their office.

Overhead Doors

According to their website descriptions, Arnold Lumber pole barn kits do not come with overhead doors. However, they’ll create rough openings and work with a vendor to install overhead doors on a custom building.


Who has the best doors?

For sliding doors, FBi separates themselves from Arnold Lumber with their custom sizes (up to 48’ wide) and Posi-Guide Track.

Again, this system sits off the ground, eliminating door jambs caused by debris. The door track is rounded and self-cleaning (no oil needed). It’ll operate smoothly year after year.

Arnold Lumber’s door track is exposed, which can collect debris and cause damage. As a result, you may run into issues with opening and closing your sliding door.

If you prefer to use overhead doors, both companies can find the style and size needed.

FBi vs Arnold Lumber_AL Astric



FBi Buildings

Window Options_FBi BuildingsBelieve it or not, there are many decisions to make when choosing windows for your pole barn

The windows offered by FBi are energy-efficient and available in popular styles, such as:

  • Double-hung
  • Single-slider
  • Eyebrow
  • Half-round
  • Gothic
  • Full circle
  • Hexagon
  • Quarter-round

Arnold Lumber

Arnold Lumber also works with a supplier to provide high-quality windows for their customers.


Who has the best windows?

This category is a tie between FBi and Arnold Lumber as they both offer windows with their pole barns.

However, we do offer one piece of advice...don’t be afraid to shop around. Sometimes, you’ll find similar windows for a lower price at the local hardware store.

FBi vs Arnold Lumber Pole Barn Kits_Tie


Who has the best overall materials?

As for pole barn materials, FBi comes out on top. They win five out of the eight categories: columns, paint, screws, trusses, and wood. Arnold Lumber ties FBi with their steel and windows. Door selection is subjective.

FBi vs Arnold Lumber Pole Barn Kits Building Materials

Design Your Pole Barn_FBi Buildings

4) Delivery

FBi Buildings

Site Preparation_Perimeter Access_FBi Buildings copyOn the first day of construction, your building materials will be delivered on-site. FBi doesn’t prefer to deliver materials beforehand and have them sit out in the elements until construction crews show up.

The building size will determine the type of equipment needed. Usually, FBi brings the following machinery to a job-site:

  • A semi for material and delivery
  • Gradall telehandler
  • Crew truck and trailer
  • Skid steer (if applicable)
  • Crane (if applicable)

Company-employed drivers deliver materials straight from their own lumber yard.


Arnold Lumber

Likewise, Arnold Lumber delivers their pole barn kits to the job-site. However, it’s uncertain when these deliveries take place as we couldn’t find their standard timing.


Who has the best delivery?

This category comes out to a tie as both companies will deliver your building components to the construction site.

Note: You will want to make sure your post frame builder delivers materials to the job site on the same day construction starts. Otherwise, those items could face adverse weather conditions and subsequent damage.

FBi vs Arnold Lumber_Tie-jpg-1

5) Construction

FBi Buildings

Pole_Barn_Construction_CrewFBi’s average crewmen have been employed for over 13 years. Experienced men make fewer mistakes, giving you a higher quality post frame building. 

FBi has a Crew Management team of construction veterans who oversee/support foremen and their workers.

They have rigorous SafeStart safety training and Core 54 (apprentice carpenter training) programs that all crews have to complete. 

In fact, FBi’s safety program has won the NFBA’s Gold and Platinum Level Achievement, as well as the Gail Miller Distinguished Safety Award. They’ve also won multiple NFBA Crew Foreman of the Year awards.


Arnold Lumber

Arnold Lumber’s workforce is subcontracted out. Typically, they have more workers, which allows for faster construction (albeit simpler building projects).


Who has the best construction?

FBi wins this category for having company-employed construction crews. Their tenure experience and resources, coupled with direct accountability, is the best way to ensure quality performance.

Arnold Lumber’s crews are subcontracted, which could result in schedule delays or craftsmanship issues (e.g., call-backs).

FBi vs Arnold Lumber_FBi Wins-jpg

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6) Warranty

FBi Buildings

Pole_Barn_Warranty_Columns_Roof_StructureA pole barn warranty is a written promise to stand behind a certain product or service. All warranties are limited, and there isn’t a standard one in the post frame industry. With that being said, you don’t want to skim through them.

The following components are covered under FBi’s warranty:

  • Columns (Lifetime)
  • Roof Structure (20 years)
  • Red Rust (15 years)
  • Paint (40 years)
  • Gloss Loss (5 years)
  • Roof Leaks (5 years)
  • Sliding Doors (Lifetime)


Arnold Lumber

After researching Arnold Lumber, the only warranties we could find were paint and steel (both limited). They do not provide craftsmanship warranties because they’re not responsible for the actual pole barn construction. For more information, you’ll need to contact their office.


Who has the best warranty?

FBi wins this category for having a more comprehensive list of warrantied features made available to the public. Their pole barn warranty is supported by a dedicated team of Repair & Renovation Specialists.

FBi vs Arnold Lumber_FBi Wins-jpg

7) Cost

FBi Buildings

Pole Barn GarageFBi is well aware that they aren’t the cheapest post frame builder in the industry, but they’re not the most expensive.

A standard pole barn shell can cost anywhere from $15 to $45 per square foot. Now, you’re probably asking yourself, “Why is there such a big difference in price per square foot?” Here’s why…

The following factors will determine if your pole barn is leaning towards the low/high side of the cost spectrum:

  • Total square feet
  • Type of features (e.g., overhangs, windows, walk-in doors, steel liner packages, etc.)
  • Current nature of the commodities market (e.g., the price of lumber and steel)

For example, adding a porch, cupolas, and numerous doors will push you closer to the $45 per square foot. If you want a basic 30’ x 40’ without the bells and whistles, you’ll pay closer to the $15 per square foot.


Arnold Lumber

Arnold Lumber offers the following pole barn kits and features:

  • 30’ x 40’ x 12’ ($12,650)
      • 4x6 solid posts, treated
      • Trusses placed 48’’ on center
      • 29-gauge metal roof and siding
      • (1) walk-in door
      • (1) 16’ x 11’ split sliding door
      • 12’’ eave overhang (add $800)
      • 12’’ overhang on all sides (add $1,200)
      • ¼’’ roof insulation (add $900)
  • building_materials_pole_barn_kits_web-140’ x 64’ x 14’ ($21,500)
      • 6x6 solid posts, treated
      • Trusses placed 48’’ on center
      • 29-gauge metal roof and siding
      • (1) walk-in door
      • (1) 20’ x 14’ split sliding door
      • 12’’ eave overhangs (add $1,100)
      • 12’’ overhang on all sides (add $1,900)
      • ¼’’ roof insulation (add $1,500)
  • 48’ x 80’ x 14’ ($34,000)
    • 6x6 solid posts, treated
    • Trusses placed 48’’ on center
    • 29-gauge metal roof and siding
    • (1) walk-in door
    • (1) 20’ x 12’-6’’ split sliding door
    • (1) 24’ x 14’ split sliding door
    • 12’’ eave overhangs (add $1,400)
    • 12’’ overhang on all sides (add $2,000)
    • ¼’’ roof insulation (add $2,100)
  • 60’ x 120’ x 14’ ($48,000)
    • 6x6 solid posts, treated
    • Trusses placed 48’’ on center
    • 29-gauge metal roof and siding
    • (1) walk-in door
    • (1) 20’ x 12’-6’’ split sliding door
    • (1) 24’ x 14’ split sliding door
    • 12’’ eave overhangs (add $1,900)
    • 12’’ overhang on all sides (add $2,900)
    • ¼’’ roof insulation (add $3,500)

If none of these options will work for you, they’ll be glad to provide you with a custom quote. 

Note: Sales tax is not included. Their pole barn kit prices are limited to a 100-mile radius of their headquarters in Decatur, Indiana. Extra charges apply for anything outside of that area. Package prices are only valid with the exact options listed above.


Who has the best cost?

Arnold Lumber’s standard pole barn kits are cheaper than FBi. Again, multiple variables go into pricing your post frame building. Please make sure that you’re comparing apples to apples in terms of quality building materials and features.

FBi vs Arnold Lumber Pole Barn Kits_FBi Astric

Ultimate Guide to Pole Barn Cost_FBi Buildings

Who’s Best for Your Post Frame Building Project?

FBi vs Arnold Lumber Pole Barn Kits Overall Building Materials Winner

Note: The star denotes personal preference based on the buyer. Please reference each section for specifics.

Every post frame builder has their advantages and disadvantages, and the final decision is solely up to you and your specific needs.

  • Arnold Lumber Co. is the way to go if you’re interested in building a smaller, cost-effective pole barn.

  • FBi Buildings is the right choice if you’re looking to make a long-lasting investment with a more streamlined construction experience.

If you’re still unsure about what to do, we recommend checking out these additional resources:

We’d be happy to work with you on your pole barn project if you’re located in Indiana, Illinois, Eastern Iowa, or Southern Michigan.

Pole Barn Quote_FBi Buildings

Do you have more questions that are not covered in this article? If you need help designing or planning, please contact FBi Buildings at 800.552.2981 or click here to email us. If you are ready to get a price, click here to request a quote, and a member of our Customer Engagement team will help you determine the next steps of your project.