To Insulate or not to Insulate

BKind2Anmls

Susan
Corporate Member
Since my husband decided he didn't want to tour the country in an RV, we have bought a small house in town. We bought one of those buildings you see on the side of road everywhere for my new wood shop. The building is 12 x 26 ft. It has the standard 2x4 studs, wood sides and a metal roof. The inside walls and the ceiling have that thin foam board insulation. I'm thinking of adding insulation to the walls of the building but don't know if it will help. One of the narrow ends of the building consists of a canned, roll-up door, which wouldn't be insulated. Since one wall will be basically made of un-insulated metal, will it be worthwhile to add insulation to the other 3 walls? I will be using French cleats to hang everything and eventually installing a mini-split or a combined a/c-heating window unit.
 

Henry W

HenryW
Senior User
Roof/ceiling insulation is most important, then walls. If you are planning AC or heat in there, even with a un-insulated end wall (door), I would expect this would be worth the effort/expense. The longer you stay there the more worth it this will be. If this is a multi-year occupancy place, for the cost and effort, I would fully expect this to be worth it. That is seat of the pants thinking, not data based analysis. I would expect a window AC unit, unless it were very high capacity, to struggle to keep up with cooling in the space you describe without more insulation - unless you keep in on ALL summer and maintain the cooler Ts inside 24 hrs a day.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
Yes, do insulate - it will pay for itself in your comfort. Now the decision is which insulation you want to install (or have installed) - that is the biggest decision of all.
 

tri4sale

Daniel
Corporate Member
You've described my detached shop space to a T. Previous owner put the silver insulation boards, they are like 1/2 think, on the ceiling, and the walls are open studs. Surprisingly just the insulation boards makes a difference, but I wouldn't want to work out there for a long period. My upgrade goals are to put some insulation on the walls and ceiling and use a portable Heat/AC unit that vents out the window. But this isn't my primary work space so I'm not out there much. You will definitely need insulation on the ceilings, and walls when you put a mini-split system in, otherwise you'll be loosing a lot of $$$ as the conditioned air escapes.
 

Gofor

Mark
Corporate Member
I have a 16 x 24 building. Just insulating the ceiling with 6" fiberglass insulation dropped the inside temperature by well over 10 degrees during the summer. With just this insulation I am able to keep it around 80 degrees with a window A/C when the outside temps are bouncing around 100. It also traps the heat in the winter when I use my kerosene heater, allowing me to circulate it down with a ceiling fan set on low speed. . Please don't make the mistake I did in not insulating the walls before I put in benches, cabinets, etc. Doing it later will significantly increase your work load. (mine still awaits me doing this). If not able to insulate it all at once (its not cheap), do the walls with most sun exposure (i.e South and West if not shaded by trees) first, although the roof will have the most impact.

When insulating the roof, (if you use fiberglas wool type) put in rafter vents all the way to almost the peak to let the air move between the roof structure and the insulation. This also prevents condensation from soaking the roof insulation when you get cyclic temp/humidity changes, or use A/C on hot humid days. Easy to install if you have an electric stapler, and inexpensive.

When buying my roof insulation (6" rolled fiberglass), Lowes didn't carry the 6" , 21" wide 50' rolls in the store, but I was able to order it on line and drop-shipped to the store. This allowed me to run one continuous piece from wall to wall over the peak, and was cheaper than buying the 48" long pieces they had in the store. IIRC, they did carry the 4" insulation in rolls in the store if that is what you need.
 

BKind2Anmls

Susan
Corporate Member
Thanks everyone. I guess I will insulate walls and ceiling. I'll mark the studs so I can hang my french cleats and probably use luan or something similar to hold the insulation in. Then I'll paint it semi-gloss white.
 

Raymond

Raymond
Corporate Member
Susan, have you looked into insulating with closed cell foam? Not too sure about the cost for that size of a building but it is something to think about.
 

bobsmodels

Bob
Senior User
I would strongly recommend you cover it with something a little more substantial. I used 1/2" exterior oriented strand board. Do not use the 7/16 stuff from box stores. The 1/2 is superior. You will likely need to get it from a lumber yard. Put the smooth side towards the inside. Give it a coat of sealer and then paint. Now you can virtually hang things wherever you want. Also I am assuming 24" centers, thin luan will buckle and bulge. Did my whole shop 30 x 60 with four rooms that way. Also used it on the ceiling.

Bob
 

bobsmodels

Bob
Senior User
One more thought for that roll up door. If it is not the only way into the shop building you might consider a wall. Build a wall across that end with two three foot doors and insulate it. It does not need to be protected on the outside because you just roll the door down. With some carful framing you should be able to loose no more than 5 to 6" of space on that end, but you will gain a two corners, some useful wall space, insulation, still have an access entrance. That way when you need to bring stuff in you roll up the metal door open the two 3' doors which give you about a 5' 8" wide opening x about 6' 5" high. I did this at my former home. I used two of the bays of a three car attached garage. Just built walls inside and the door could go up if I needed it to. The metal roll up door should be even easier to frame around than a garage door with rails.

Have fun - I have had four shops over the last 47 years, and this one which I have been using for the last 15 years is my last one. They were a lot fun to get operational.

Bob

PS do not forget to run your electric before walling it all up
 

junquecol

Bruce
User
Can you build and insulate a wall over door opening, or just remove roll up door and build a wall? Wall could be attached with screws, so it could be removed when larger opening is needed. A set of double doors would give you plenty of access. Just some thoughts. What's with the "new user" on your avitar?
 

tri4sale

Daniel
Corporate Member
For both the doors on my home shop (ie my garage) and the detached shop I put the insulation panels in, so the doors are still fully functional but have some insulation value.

One thing to consider is hiring a professional insulation company. I had a job to do, and I priced out buy the insulation myself from Lowes/HD and from a insulation supply house, and then got a bid from a insulation company. The insulation company could do the job labor and material cheaper than I could buy the insulation myself. It's amazing the markup on some items when selling to low volume contractor vs selling to high volume insulation company!
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
Insulate the walls with R13 if 2x4 or R19 is 2x6. Insulate the roof or ceiling with R30 ......... You would be crazy not to insulate ............ CRAZY
 

JimD

Jim
Senior User
Fiberglass insulation is cheap. Once the wiring is done, I would insulate and then hang roofing type waferboard, skim coat it with drywall compound (to fill the voids some) and then paint it white (I used cheap ceiling paint). This is what I did with my shop. In the winter I use a very small space heater to warm things up a little. In the summer, I just open up the doors or use a box fan to get some air moving. I may put in a small window unit if it gets uncomfortable this summer. The window unit could be handy if we loose power and have to use a generator too (I'd move it to the house).
 

BKind2Anmls

Susan
Corporate Member
I had not thought about building a wall on the door end. I have some barn door hardware I didn't use so that may work. I also had no idea that an insulation contractor might be able to do it more cheaply. I really was not looking forward to insulating the ceiling myself. I have a 6 ft long loft at one end to store wood. Since I always use French cleats to hang everything, I'm not worried about the thickness of the walls. Thanks for everyone's input.
 

BKind2Anmls

Susan
Corporate Member
Daniel was right. It would cost me over $500 to buy the insulation and an insulation company quoted me $450.00 to do the building. They are going to staple the insulation and then I would be responsible for installing the OSB. Do I need to OSB the ceiling or just leave the stapled insulation?
 

Oka

Oka
Corporate Member
OSB or 13 Mil Reinforced Plastic. Me I would use the plastic if the ceiling height is high enough. It's easier to install, cheaper .... as long as the ceiling height is tall like above 10Ft min
 

JoeH

JoeH
Senior User
Just to be clear and tie together some of the above comments....?

Unless you are in the building for more than 5 years (by crunching different assumed numbers) the insulation won't pay for itself directly in terms of energy savings. Also doubtful you could market it as and "upgraded" building feature if you were to sell it?

BUT, for comfort, heck yeah I'd insulate it, if you can afford it.

I also upgraded my shop to a mini split. Again, a lot more cost than a window unit. But agree, with the space you have it will be better at handling the heating/cooling. My shop is 24' x 24'. I can leave the unit on "low" over night and then boost it one direction or the other depending on the season and it gets to a final temperature quickly.

Joe
 

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