Sheds are used for all sorts of things nowadays. Many of these uses would make insulated sheds a necessity. Certain things, like electronics and specialty tools, store better when protected from extreme temperature changes. Some people are converting them into barns and even homes. Yep, some people are turning those cute little garden sheds into micro homes.
I have to tell you right up front, it’s not recommended to turn cheap metal or plastic sheds into insulated sheds. They’re just not designed for it. You should use a sturdy homemade or prefab shed for this type of project.
What to Consider for Insulated Sheds:
1. Your Goals
2. Your Climate Requirements
3. Insulating Walls
4. Insulating the Roof
5. Insulating the Floor
6. Evaluate Doors and Windows
7. Checking Air Tightness
Before you dive into the project, you’ll have to consider the 7 things above to determine what you’ll need, if it’s worth it, and how much you’ll need to do. If you’re just going to be storing general things, you won’t need to do as much as you would if you’re going to shelter livestock or people. You wouldn’t need to be as concerned in Arizona as you would in Alaska about the amount of insulation for the winter.
Walls of Insulated Sheds
If you’re going to be adding electrical or plumbing to the shed, plan and do that before you insulate.
A common type of wall insulation for insulating sheds is an air barrier. An air barrier is just that, it keeps the air outside from getting in and the inside air from getting out. You wrap the shed in the air barrier and then put siding of your choice over it. These two layers will keep air out and help you maintain the desired climate in the shed.
This is basic, it wouldn’t work for delicate equipment or living unless you had a heating or cooling source and that’s a whole different discussion.
When you mention insulated sheds, the first thing people think of is the rolls of pink or yellow fiberglass insulation. It’s certainly the most commonly used form of insulation.
If your shed has studded walls, this would be a quick and easy way to have insulated sheds. Once installed between the studs, you’d want to cover the insulation with plywood, sheetrock or some other sort of material. Fiberglass rolled insulation also serves as a vapor barrier which keeps humidity low. This is important to keeping a wooden shed sound and unwarped as well as protecting more delicate stored items.
If you plan to keep livestock in insulated sheds, be sure to cover the insulation. Curiosity killed the cat, remember.
Foam Board Insulation
Foam board insulation can be a cheaper form of insulation if your goal is to protect general items. It would work for livestock in some climates, but it’s shiny so you’d want to be sure to cover it to keep animals from getting into it.
The Roof of Insulated Sheds
If you insulate your shed roof, be sure to leave ventilation space, especially in heated insulated sheds. Condensation will form without adequate ventilation when the heat rises. This can lead to mold growth and rotting of wood.
Leaving a 2” gap above the insulation should be sufficient. Of course, the eaves should have ventilation to ensure good air and moisture exchange.
Roofing material of some sort would also be beneficial to insulating the roof. Many people forget the roof when considering insulated sheds, but if inadequately provided for, a bad roof can ruin the whole project purpose.
Floors of Insulated Sheds
Insulating the floor of the shed will depend on the shed itself. Is it sitting directly on the ground? Is there a crawl space large enough to work under the shed? Is it possible to insulate the floor from the inside?
The roof and walls are the first consideration in insulated sheds and rightfully so. However, insulating the floor of your shed, especially a vapor or air barrier, can make a great deal of difference in the effectiveness of protection the shed provides.
Evaluate Doors and Windows of Insulated Sheds
Usually, the doors that come with your shed are flimsy. I’ve always found this curious. The part you’ll use most often is most often the least well made.
If your shed has such a door, you’ll want to replace it before insulating. You may have to add a frame and reinforce the wall to support the door, but it will be worth it. A good door will keep out drafts, moisture, and critters.
The standard windows in sheds are not double pained and are often in metal frames. You can work with this depending on your goal for the shed. You can leave them in and cover them with plastic. Remember, the metal frames will most likely have condensation problems which will cause rust and other problems over time.
If you’re going to be using it for living space, you may want to consider replacing them with doubled pained windows. This would most certainly mean supporting the window frames or adding new frames altogether.
Checking Air Tightness of Insulated Sheds
Take a good look at any junction of wall and roof, electrical or plumbing with floors or wall, anywhere critters, air or moisture can get in. Spray foam (I love how this stuff works) is an option for sealing any area not covered by the other insulation. Some people use steel wool in these areas, but if there’s a moisture problem it will have to be replaced and once behind wall covering can be costly in time, energy and maybe money.
Insulated sheds aren’t just useful in the winter. Insulation also keeps the heat out of insulated sheds in the spring and summer. All the work you’ve put into insulating your shed will be rewarded by years of life and protection for your things, your animals, or your peeps.
Do you have insulated sheds? What do you use them for?
Have you converted a DIY pole barn into a shed? Will you share your tips and lessons learned with us in the comments below?
Safe and Happy Journey,
Rhonda and The Pack