Metal Building Insulation Master Guide: How It Works & How To Find The Best Value For Your Money
Without insulation, your metal garage, shed, office building or other structure can easily become a sauna or the North Pole. Insulation for metal buildings can help you beat the sun, wind and rain, and also save on energy and repair, if you find the right type for your needs.
This Master Guide is based on our 18-year-expertise as an industry leader.
Here, we’ll list some of the most popular insulation methods for metal buildings, along with the advantages and disadvantages of each type to help you make an informed decision regarding your upcoming project.
Metal Building Insulation - Why do You Need It?
Insulation for metal buildings plays an important role in weather protection, noise and more. Without it, you can end up with leaks, mold, mildew and even unwelcome critters.
- Regulate the inside temperature
- Avoid condensation ("sweating" of buildings)
- Absorb noise
- Ventilate the interior
- Increase space efficiency (to reduce space needed for additional heating or cooling equipment)
- Reduce energy costs
- Maximize return on investment
- Add value to your structure
- Protect the environment (using less energy directly results in less pollution)
Whether you have a primary drive for insulating your metal building or you’re eager to reap the entire list of benefits, your insulation must stop heat, cold, condensation and air to provide the best value.
Where Can Metal Building Insulation Be Used?
Metal building insulation can be used in commercial buildings and warehouses, airplane hangars and metal churches, barns and garages, garden sheds and Quonset huts, shipping containers, crawl spaces, and home structures, such as basements, attics and storage spaces.
In other words, if the structure requires protection from either, heat, cold, moisture or air, you’re likely to benefit from the protections of insulation.
Have more questions? Check out our FAQ page!
How Is Metal Building Insulation Installed?
Heat is lost through a building's walls, windows and doors, as well as through its roof and floor. Identifying the weak spots and selecting the right insulation for your metal building can help you save money and regulate your structure’s environment.
Let’s look at the most popular types of steel insulation and their application mechanisms.
1. Fiberglass Insulation
Fiberglass insulation for metal buildings comes in three types: batts, rolls, and loose-fill (packaged in bags). It’s made of silica sand, limestone and soda ash, fortified with tiny glass fibers.
The production includes several stages:
- The glass is melted in a high-temperature furnace
- The molten glass is spun into fibers and covered with a liquid binder
- The pieces are broken into shorter bits which pile on a conveyor belt
- The pieces move through cooling ovens to harden the fibers
- The completed batts are cut to the preferred size
When loose-fill fiberglass is produced, the binding agent stage is omitted from the process.
The installation process differs depending on the fiberglass insulation type. When in batts (as a blanket), it is stapled after being trimmed to the desired dimensions. When loose-fill, it is blown into problematic spots, such as wall cracks, holes, attics and floor cavities.
2. Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam insulation comes in two types, bearing different characteristics: open-cell and closed-cell spray foam. It is made of liquid chemical ingredients which cause a chemical reaction and result in the production of a foam-like substance.
Unlike the open-cell type where the cells are filled with air to get a spongy texture, the closed-cell variety is filled with gas which causes the foam to expand and fill the cells.
The open-cell variety has a lower thermal resistance value and does not function well as a vapor, thermal and air barrier. Since it is not waterproof, it is not suitable for exterior metal building insulation use.
In contrast, the closed-cell spray foam type is recommended for its strong thermal resistance, waterproof, air and vapor barrier qualities.
As the name suggests, this type of metal building insulation is sprayed and can expand up to 30% to fill in ruptures and cracks.
3. Bubble Insulation
Bubble insulation for metal buildings comes in foil sheets, with encapsulated bubbles in between.
The production includes several steps:
- The rice-size drops of resin are melted at a high temperature
- They combine into a very thin sheet which is processed into the desired thickness
- It then goes through rollers, with small holes and air blown in until the bubbles are formed
- The thin sheet is sealed with another layer and finally cut and rolled into big rolls
Bubble insulation can be used either during the construction process (which is typically preferred) or when the building has been completed. The bubble insulation is spread over the metal joists or purloins with its shiny side up, leaving a layer of air between the foil and the insulated surface.
On properties that have already been completed, using bubble insulation is known as retrofitting and can be performed on roofs, walls and floors. Retrofitting includes removing the old insulation or placing the foil on top of the existing insulation, following specific technical requirements.
4. Prodex Insulation
The new-generation insulation, Prodex Total, is composed of closed cell foam and reinforced reflective foil.
As a reflective insulation system, Prodex is able to reduce radiant heat transfer. It is installed facing an air space, on dust-free surfaces to achieve optimum results.
As with bubble metal building insulation, it works easier when applied during the construction process but it is possible to use it on already completed buildings as well.
Looking for quality insulation? Find our best-selling products!
Types Of Insulation For Metal Buildings [In Stock At Insulation4Less]
To make your decision easier, we have compiled a list of the advantages and disadvantages of the most popular materials for metal building insulation available at Insulation4Less.
1. Fiberglass Insulation
- Easy installation process
- Affordable (up to 3 times cheaper than spray foam)
- Pre-sized to fit standard construction structures
- Eco-friendly (uses 40%-60% recycled glass)
- Enhances building aesthetics where the white facing is preferred
- Can be installed by both professional insulation companies and DIY enthusiasts
- Protective equipment is needed during the installation process to avoid exposure to harmful substances
- Can provoke skin problems through contact
- If inhaled, it can lead to respiratory issues like coughing, nosebleeds, etc.
- Can source mold growth due to keeping allergens, dust and moisture
2. Bubble Insulation
- Highly durable
- Efficient in both warm and cold climates
- Flexible: easy to work with
- Lightweight: easy to transport
- Safe to handle: no protective clothing or equipment needed
- Provides soundproofing
- Lower efficiency: often described as a barrier rather than insulation
3. Prodex Insulation
- One solution for heat, cold, condensation and air
- Deadens sound of rain and hail
- Easy to install
- Lightweight and not too bulky: easy to work with and transport
- Prevents nesting of rodents, bugs and birds
- Resistant to mold and mildew
- Does not degrade over time
- More expensive because it is metal-based
- When installed in cold climates, it needs to be combined with other insulation alternatives to prevent heat loss
- Requires cleaning of surfaces from dust and debris when fitted and in use to ensure maximum efficiency
What To Look For In The Best Steel Building Insulation
The best type of steel or metal building insulation should be able to handle a wide range of conditions, from weather and sound to mold, mildew and more.
The best steel building insulation:
Condensation happens when vapor transforms into liquid. Some common examples include the morning dew, the water on a cold can of beer on a hot day, or the steamy bathroom mirror after a hot shower.
The difference between outside and inside temperature creates condensation and causes dripping, which can damage the interior or the stored goods as well as provoke respiratory problems.
Prevents Heat Transfer In And Out
Winter and summer can cause two different extremes on the outside surfaces of metal buildings, as the metal serves as a good conductor. This in turn reflects on the internal environment, making it unbearably hot or cold. To make the matter worse, this also results in condensation.
When it comes to choosing the best insulation for temperature regulation, pay special attention to the R-value of the insulation product.
An R-value is the measurement of a material’s ability to resist heat transfer. It’s based different factors of the insulating material, including thickness, density, moisture accumulation and aging.
The higher the R-value of the reflective insulation for metal buildings, the better the possibilities are to reduce the radiant heat gain and assist maintaining pleasant temperature inside.
Stops Air Transfer
Airflow is another important factor when choosing insulation for metal buildings. It affects the inside temperature, carries moisture and affects the building’s behavior in case of a fire spreading toxic smoke and gases.
Deadens Sound Of Rain And Hail
The sounds of rain and hail are particularly unsettling due to their often-sudden nature and torrent strength. Your insulation should act as a protective sound barrier for your building.
Doesn’t Support Rodents, Bugs And Birds
Rodents, bugs and birds can be the source of serious illnesses, let alone a nuisance when they decide to nest in your building.
New-generation insulation alternatives serve a two-way purpose: they do not allow the nesting of rodents, bugs, and birds – and their foil layer is unbeatable against teeth and beaks.
Speed and ease of installation are often decisive factors when choosing your steel building insulation. For the best results, insulation should take place before applying the sheeting and your insulation should also be lightweight, flexible and easy to install.
Acts As A Vapor Barrier
The vapor barrier, known also as a moisture barrier, prevents wetness and condensation from penetrating the walls and the roof of the steel buildings.
The ideal insulation for metal buildings must serve as such an obstacle to dampness, so that the air inside is good for health, appliances and stored items.
Won’t Promote Mold And Mildew
Hot temperatures, moisture and lack of proper ventilation are the ideal conditions for the occurrence of mold and mildew, which can seriously endanger the health of the people living and working in a metal building.
When exposed to mold and mildew for a long period of time, these substances can provoke serious symptoms such as dry cough, congestion, watery eyes and skin irritation, which is why the best insulation protects against mold and mildew.
Prodex: Our Best-Selling Insulation For Metal Buildings
Scorching sun, freezing wind or rattling hail? No problem. Deafening noise interrupting your home office meetings? Easily solved.
Prodex is a new-generation multifaceted product that serves as an all-in-one: it stops condensation, heat, cold and air, absorbs the sound of rain and hail, helps prevent rodents, bugs and birds, and prevents the occurrence of fungi like mold and mildew.
The reflective nature of Prodex keeps the temperature consistent on the inside and outside of the sheeting and prevents condensation. It creates an air barrier that is directly related to the safety of the building in case of fire.
Due to its light weight, it is easy to install, work with and transport, which makes it a preferred alternative for insulation of metal buildings, for both professional insulation companies and DIY homeowners.
In hot sunny climates, the use of radiant barriers like Prodex can significantly lower cooling costs due to decreased heat transfer and reduced need for air-conditioning appliances.
Insulation4less provides quality insulation for steel buildings corresponding to your needs, preferences and budget. We also provide fast delivery services, installation methods and expert advice to help ensure you get the best value for your money.