Insulation could be essential depending on the purpose of the building. Metal is a natural conductor and a poor insulator, easily absorbing the heat and the cold. In the heat, a metal building will become hot and humid. When temperatures decrease, the metal will become cold, which will cool the building down but also produce condensation. The moisture from condensation creates issues as it can damage the building’s foundation and facilitate rusting. Proper insulation stabilizes the building’s temperature, preventing condensation and allowing you to better control the heating or cooling of your building.
Insulation is essential if you are living in the building or using it extensively. Without effective insulation, you risk wasting money on high energy bills. Many choose not to insulate buildings because of the upfront cost, but you can think of it as a long-term investment that will protect the integrity of your metal building. Let’s review some of the available insulation options:
- Loose-fill, or blown-in insulation, is exactly what it sounds like! Loose particles consisting of rock wool, fiberglass, or shredded recycled newspaper, are blown in to fill the spaces between walls, making this an ideal option for insulating existing structures. While this insulation method is more expensive, it does allow for better coverage as fibers are inserted into some of the smallest crevices. Keep in mind that loose-fill insulation may require a separate radiant barrier.
- R-value ranges from 3-4
- Batt insulation, also known as blanket insulation, reigns as the popular choice. This insulation is usually processed from rock wool or fiberglass. Its affordability and effectiveness makes it an economical choice. Batt insulation might come with a radiant barrier on one or both sides of the blanket. This barrier is important as it reflects heat. This type of insulation comes in rolls that you can cut to size and easily install in wall cavities. Batt insulation is sold in a variety of thicknesses to resist heat flow.
- R-value ranges from 2.9-3.8
- Spray foam
- Similar to loose-fill insulation, spray foam insulation involves inserting material through holes in the walls. However, spray foam differs in that it provides improved coverage. While on the more expensive end, spray foam can get into the tiny, odd-shaped crevices and reduce air leaks. This type of insulation is ideal for colder areas because spray foam tightly seals holes, preventing bugs and other pests from entering the building. Spray foam insulation comes in open-cell and closed-cell foam. With open-cell, the foam has cells that are fully enveloped, creating a softer and more flexible foam. Closed-cell foams are pressed together to prevent moisture and air from entering, making this the preferred option for metal structures. Closed-cell foam expands less and provides a vapor barrier.
- R-Value for open-cell spray foam is about 3.7; R-Value for closed-cell spray foam is about 6.5
- Vinyl is typically the facing material for fiberglass insulation. It helps provide a vapor barrier, which prevents moisture from entering. This eco-friendly insulation option is popular for metal buildings and is considered to be both durable and affordable.
- R-value ranges from 2-2.7
The insulation you choose will depend on the use of your building and your available budget. Steel shops typically have spray foam or vinyl insulation. Steel structures that have interior walls and a ceiling usually have loose-fill or batt insulation. The proper insulation should keep the building cool in hotter weather and warm in colder weather, as well as maximum resistance to moisture.
*Note: R-value indicates the level of the insulation’s heat resistance