Is it worth insulating a shed?

Installing insulation in metal sheds isn’t a must-do project, unlike installing pole barn insulation for example. However, if you plan on spending any time in the shed, insulation can make it a more pleasant place. Keep in mind that the size of the shed will determine if it is worth installing insulation or not. If the shed is in poor condition, and is leaking badly or has large gaps around windows, it may be better to construct a new shed. However, if your shed is in decent condition, insulating it can be a relatively low-cost and simple project for a DIY enthusiast, and will improve the building in the same way that metal building insulation can improve this space.

What is the best insulation for a shed?

There are many types of insulation you can use when insulating a shed. You can use everything from foam insulation (like Prodex total 5M) or even bubble wrap if you want to save a bit on material costs. Here are quick and simple explanations for some of the different types of insulation:

  • Bubble wrap - the least expensive and most basic type of shed insulation on this list. While there isn’t really an efficient way to insulate your shed for free, bubble wrap is one of the next best options if you’re on a tight budget. However, while using bubble wrap insulation is better than using none at all, it won’t be as effective as the other materials on this list when used in isolation. Despite this, it can be effective when used in conjunction with a harder material (such as OSB boards).
  • Rockwool insulation (also known as mineral wool) - made from volcanic rock (mostly basalt) and industrial slag. Its long fibers are compressed into dense mats before being cut into quilt-like batts for insulation. Rockwool is great for both heat and humidity control – meaning it could help protect any heat or moisture-sensitive items in your shed. Rockwool is also effective an acoustic wall insulation and could prevent noise from getting both in and out. So this may be a good option if you want to avoid complaints from neighbors about your loud music, or if you’re looking for peace and quiet away from the noise of others.
  • Breathable membranes (or breather membranes) - are made to be water-resistant yet allow air in (making them air-permeable). Typically used in external walls and roofs, these membranes block moisture to reduce or eradicate dampness, while their air permeability helps improve shed ventilation. For the reasons above, breathable membranes are a great choice for shed insulation.
  • Fiberglass roll - often made from recycled glass – makes it good for the environment. It's also simple to install and a relatively quick-and-easy DIY job. Due to its structure, fiberglass is full of air pockets. Why is this important? Because this means it won’t shrink and will keep its form over time – making it a potentially cost-effective investment. Nevertheless, fiberglass insulation loses its ability to insulate when it becomes wet. It also contains tiny glass slivers, which can be harmful to the skin or lungs if inhaled. As a result, we’d recommend PIR insulation boards over fiberglass (for the most part).
  • Plywood or OSB - similar both in terms of strength and their ability to insulate your shed. Sheds made out of these materials aren’t recommended for insulating, however, when it comes to insulation on the inner wall, both plywood and OSB offer a tough surface that provides high-impact resistance and is, therefore, likely to last a long time.
  • Tongue and groove - made from planks that fit tightly together – they can be fiddly (and time-consuming) to install. That said, these boards look attractive and provide a good base to varnish or paint. Throughout this post, we’ve been talking about starting with a good base to minimize the amount of insulation you need. Therefore, buying a shed made from tongue-and-groove boards is arguably a better option than adding them later as insulation. Why? Firstly, as an insulation material, tongue-and-groove boards are very expensive. Second, a shed made from this excellent insulating material will automatically provide a better barrier against heat and could save you both time and money in the long run.

The best shed insulation mainly depends on what part of the shed you are trying to insulate. Floor, roof or wall insulation all have different requirements, so you should choose your insulation carefully.

How to insulate a shed floor

If the shed has already been built and you don’t want to remove your shed floor, you could install a “false floor”. Installing a “false floor” is more cost-effective and less time-consuming than laying underfloor insulation. Keep in mind that a “false floor” reduces the height of the shed a little bit, so you wouldn’t want to use something like 24-inch Prodex Total 5M because it is meant primarily for walls. Here’s what you’ll need for insulating a shed floor:

  • A breathable membrane
  • A thin layer of plywood or a roll of carpet
  • A good-quality sealant (if you use plywood/OSB board)
  • A tape measure
  • Heavy-duty scissors
  • A jigsaw

Take these steps to install the shed floor correctly:

  • Measure and cut the breathable membrane to fit
  • Lay the breathable membrane over the floor
  • Cover this with a thin layer of plywood or carpet
  • If using plywood, fill in any gaps with the sealant

How to insulate a shed roof and walls

In this part of the article, we’ll show a step-by-step guide to insulate shed roofs and walls. The tools and materials you’ll need for insulation are:

  • Measuring tape
  • Sharp knife, if required
  • Roll roofing, if required
  • Hammer
  • Foam filler
  • Insulation (bubble wrap, foam boards, or fiberglass roll)
  • Tape, if required
  • Adhesive, if required
  • Plywood, if required
  • Heavy duty staple gun and staples
  • Hand saw

Here is the step-by-step guide to installing insulation:

  • Clear the shed - remove everything you have in your shed in order to make room for properly installing insulation. Look for any evidence of leaks from the roof which may have been concealed by the items stored inside the building
  • Check the roof - sheds lose a lot of heat through the roof, so before insulating the walls and around the windows, make sure the roofing isn’t loose.
  • Seal around doors and windows - be sure to seal every gap around any windows to avoid drafty windows which could be letting cool air in.
  • Choose insulation for the walls - you can buy something like prodex total 5M plus or prodex total 10M, and if you want to go DIY you can get something like bubble wrap or plywood (which isn’t as effective as Prodex Total).

DIY insulation and how much will it cost

If you opt for installing shed insulation yourself, this can be a very interesting DIY project. Depending on which type of insulation you choose and the size of your shed, the cost will vary a bit, but overall you can expect to save some money if going for DIY insulation. For an average-sized shed expect to spend about $1,500-$1,600 on materials (depending if you go for spray foam, bubble wrap, batts etc.). Even though you will save money, you won't save time. Plan ahead and make sure you have a bit more time than you need if anything needs additional fixing or preparation during the installation process. 

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