Barn Insulation - Finding the Right Type for You

There are so many products available these days.  Choosing the correct products when determining what barn insulation to use is no different.  We find it helpful to look at specific details of your barn to determine what insulation to use.

The first question is, where are you?  What state do you live in?  Understanding your local climate is the first criteria in understanding your insulation solutions.  It is no wonder residential code construction in the south for example comprises of 2 x 4" construction.  In the North, it is 2 x 6". This has nothing to do with strength and everything to do with wall thickness.  In the North, the code requirements for fiberglass insulation are designed for a 5 1/2" batt.  Conserving heat is of prime importance during the heating season in the North.  Wall construction is changed to allow for the insulation to fit.  This change does not help homes in the South because the heating season is considerably less and the low temperatures, although cold by southern standards, are balmy for the North.

The second question is, what are you using your barn for?  Barns are built for many different reasons and they are used for a wide variety of applications.  Are you going to heat your barn? Are you concerned about solar heat gain?  These questions help determine the correct barn insulation for you to use.

Or maybe you are concerned about or are experiencing condensation.  Condensation is a main concern in metal buildings and pole barns with metal roofs.  Condensation inside a building happens when dew point is reached.  Metal roofing material, although inexpensive and strong, is a poor insulator and very conductive.  This means the temperature of the metal roof on your barn in the winter is going to be fairly close to the actual outside temperature.  Condensation can happen when the inside warmer air comes into contact with the cold metal material.  If the humidity level and temperature extremes are right, moisture will occur.

From this information we can start to draw some conclusions.  Let's make up a barn to show some practical examples.  For an insulation choice, we will choose our InfraStop® insulation.  When installed correctly InfraStop® is a vapor barrier and will create a thermal break to alleviate any condensation concerns.

Now, let us say our metal building is located in Texas.  Most of it is warehouse or storage with a small area for an office.  Let's only heat the office infrequently in the winter.  What should we do?  We would install our InfraStop® underneath the roof joists or over them for new construction.  We would also install it across or down the side walls.  We would frame in the office area and insulate the walls and ceiling with fiberglass insulation and line the exterior or warehouse facing walls and ceiling with reflective insulation as well.

What will this do?  First, it will block most of the heat entering the building that is radiating through the metal roofing and walls.  This will help cool the building down.  Because you are paying to heat the office and it's a small area, fiberglass insulation is used in addition to reflective foil insulation.  This will ensure trapped air and limited air movement to help in the cold months.  The radiant barrier is added to keep the warehouse heat out should you want to use air conditioning in the summer.

Let us now say we have a pole barn in Wisconsin.  We are using the area as a shop and are heating it via a wood stove during the day.  We know our barn is getting hot in the summer but our main concern is keeping in some of the heat generated by the wood stove.  For this application, we would again use our InfraStop® insulation but move its position in the building.  Instead of putting the material underneath the purlins we could move the material to underneath the trusses.  This would significantly decrease the amount of cubic space to be heated and would reflect the heat from the wood stove back into the room. You will still get the benefit of blocking overhead heat during the hot months.  If you wanted the insulation at the roof level, either above or below the purlins, it will work but there will be more cubic feet to heat.

Hopefully these two examples get you thinking of your type of barn, its location, and its use.  When you look closely at your specific needs it is easier to determine what type of barn insulation will accomplish your building's goals.

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