How to Insulate a Pole Barn

If you’ve got the space for one on your land, a pole barn can provide you with a useful and versatile storage space for your property. When it comes to protecting your pole barn from heat loss during cooler months or heat gain when it’s hotter outside, insulation is crucial. Here’s how to insulate a pole barn.

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Begin with the End in Mind

Whether you need a place to store vehicles like boats, motorcycles and ATVS, a workshop, or even a place for keeping animals safe, pole sheds are an increasingly popular and affordable way to do it. How much insulation you’ll need really depends on what you’ll be using the pole barn for. If possible, insulation should be factored into the design of your pole barn before the building is built. But if you’ve purchased a property that has an existing shed on it, you may want to modify it and improve the insulation as well.

Insulation for Frequent Use Pole Barns

If your pole barn is going to be an active work or play space where you’ll be spending a lot of consecutive hours, you’ll want to make sure you’ve insulated the walls and ceilings to ensure the climate inside stays comfortable. For example, “man caves”, “she sheds”, home offices, and other types of structures might require a more carefully considered insulation and HVAC plan. Whereas if you just need some unheated, uncooled storage space to keep some items out of the elements, you can likely get by with a less elaborate and less expensive approach.

Consider the Climate

The climate you’re in will also factor into your insulation plan. If you’re in a warmer climate in the Southern regions of the US, you’ll likely be more concerned with keeping the structure cool and properly ventilated, especially during hot summer months. If you’re in a more harsh and wintery northern area, you may even want to consider heating your pole barn, which requires a more comprehensive approach to insulating.

Types of Insulation

Insulation usually comes in one of three forms: fiberglass, foam and cellulose. Here’s what you need to know about each option:

  • Fiberglass. Fiberglass is the most common type of insulation used in homes and commercial building projects. It’s fairly lightweight and low cost, which makes it the most popular choice. It usually comes in batts or rolls that are placed between joints before vapor barriers and walls or ceilings are installed.
  • Foam. Polystyrene Foam insulation generally comes in two forms. It can be sprayed on the area between joints, which provides a superior seal, or purchased in pre-formed panels. Spray foam insulation tends to be a more expensive option, because it usually requires professional application. Pre-formed panels are ideal for DIY insulation projects. However, foam panels are more expensive than fiberglass rolls.
  • Cellulose. Cellulose insulation is made from recycled materials and comes in fibers that are professionally blown in. It can be used to insulate pole barn ceilings if there is an attic space, or it can be used in wall cavities if finished walls are present.

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Choosing the Right R-Value

Selecting an insulation solution with the right R-value is an important consideration. The R-Value is the rating that measures the insulating properties of the material being used. Generally speaking, the higher the R-value, the higher the insulating capability.

If your pole barn is heated or cooled, you’ll want to achieve a higher R-value with your insulation. In this situation, you might consider rigid foam insulation rated at R-16 to go under the steel. Conversely, if you’re only planning on using your pole barn as unconditioned storage space, you can likely get by with a more affordable insulation with a lower R-value. Here, you might consider R-5 faced fiberglass insulation. It has a relatively low insulative value—but when used on roofs, it can help prevent condensation on cold days and reduce heat on sunny days.

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