How to Insulate a Metal Building

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Insulating a metal building can make it appropriate for more uses in cold weather.
Insulating a metal building can make it appropriate for more uses in cold weather. (Image: metal studs image by Greg Pickens from Fotolia.com)

Metal buildings are popular for utilitarian and industrial uses because they are relatively cheap and fast to put up. Without insulation, however, their uses in cold weather are limited. Metal buildings can be insulated in a similar manner to buildings made of other materials. The primary difference is that the supporting members in a metal building are usually farther apart, requiring retrofitting to make the insulation fit properly.

Insulate With Batt Insulation

Measure the distance between the vertical supporting members in the walls of the metal building. If you are insulating with fiberglass or roxul batts, you will need to infill between these supporting members to create bays that are 16 inches wide to accommodate the insulation batts.

Attach steel or wooden studs to the metal wall and secure them to the base plates and top plates.

Fit the batts of insulation in between the retrofitted studs. If the spacing is correct, the batts of insulation should stay in place simply by the pressure they exert against the studs.

Insulate with Rigid Foam Sheets

Attach rigid foam sheets to the interior surface of the metal walls, holding it in place with foam adhesive. Rigid foam can be purchased in different thicknesses, most commonly 1 and 2 inch. The more foam you apply, the better the insulation will be.

Trim the foam to butt up tightly against obstacles and vertical supporting members in order to minimize drafts and heat loss.

Overlap the sheets if you are applying more than one layer, staggering the joints between the sheets in order to block drafts.

Insulate with Blown In Cellulose Insulation

Build an interior wall with steel or metal studs, leaving a space between it and the existing metal exterior wall.

Extend any frames around windows inward to the inside face of the interior wall.

Remove outlets and other fixtures from the exterior wall; they will need to be reinstalled on the interior wall.

Install insulation beneath the windows before covering the wall surface, as the blown in insulation will not effectively penetrate these areas from above.

Apply drywall to the new interior frame, leaving either a continuous space or a series of holes at the top, a few inches down from the ceiling.

Blow cellulose insulation into the space between the two walls after the interior wall is complete. The larger you make this space, the more insulation it will take and the warmer it will be. You will also lose more space and spend more money.

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