Spray foam is great for metal buildings. This especially true If you are creating a “fully-conditioned” building, meaning a building that you are going to be heating or cooling on a continuous basis.
From a building science standpoint, the absolute best way to approach insulating a steel building is to think of it as one giant refrigerator. That’s basically what it is: a big metal box you're trying to keep cool. The difference is, for a metal building, you’re just keeping relatively cool (maybe 75 degrees) compared to a refrigerator's cool, which is around 40 degrees.
To successfully insulate your metal building, you want both a well-insulated and air-tight box, just like a refrigerator. This will provide the highest level of energy efficiency in your barndominium or metal building.
Here are some reasons why spray foam insulation is best for metal buildings.
- It’s continuous. The spray foam, when properly applied, creates a continuous “thermal envelope” just like a refrigerator. There are very few places that the heat can easily get in or out on a spray foamed building.
- It's durable. Traditional fiberglass insulation with a vinyl covering will eventually get torn, deteriorate, and become brittle. When this happens, warm air from inside the building can go through the fiberglass and create condensation on the metal turning into liquid water. This water ends up causing the insulation to get wet, stained, and moldy. Closed cell spray foam is hard and durable, and won’t tear or rip under normal conditions.
- Spray foam is also a vapor barrier. You want the inside of your metal building to have a vapor barrier if you are fully heating/cooling it. You want the relatively warm-moist air to be stopped before it can get to the cold metal and condense.
- It's easier to install. Traditional fiberglass batt insulation is installed when the exterior metal is put on. If it’s windy, or wet, the insulation is hard to handle and you must hang and cut every piece as you go. Plus, it’s not uncommon for the insulation to get wet or damaged before it’s ever installed. Spray foam insulation is installed after the building walls and roof are done. It’s sprayed from the inside, and can be installed in pretty much any weather conditions.
- Spray foam reduces thermal bypass. With traditional fiberglass insulation the fiberglass batt is installed between the purlin and the metal skin. At this connection point the fiberglass is compressed down to almost nothing. This allows what is called “thermal bypass” and causes the purlin to get cold which results in interior condensation. Spray foam insulation fixes this since the purlin is sprayed from the inside.
Now think about this: would you agree a refrigerator in the shade will be easier to cool and be more efficient than one in the sun? The reason you agree to that statement illustrates the concept of radiant heat. Now, think of how much bigger a metal building is than a refrigerator and you can see how big of an impact insulation has on how much heat enters the building. In fact, when the sun is shining on a metal building it can easily have double the amount of heat entering compared to when a building is in the shade, or on a cloudy day. So, Ideally you want to combine spray foam insulation with a radiant barrier layer for maximum efficiency and comfort.
What about buildings that you are not heating and cooling all the time, or just occasionally adding heat and cooling to? These are called non-conditioned or semi-conditioned buildings. Since you are not continuously heating and cooling, you really don’t build a refrigerator, you need something more like a light jacket just to take the edge off. This is exactly what BlueTex™ Insulation is designed for. Metal buildings that you will want the shade effect for, like garages, airplane hangars, workshops, storage facilities, etc. and buildings that need to control condensation, but don’t want to pay the high price of spray foam insulation, will benefit most from BlueTex™ foil foam products.
Condensation. Sweating. Raining inside... All of these terms are used to describe a common concern with metal buildings. What do you do to get rid of the moisture build up inside a metal building?
First let's clear up a common misconception. Moisture is not a bad thing, it's a natural part of our environment - lots of things get wet and dry out every single day, including metal buildings. The issues arise when things get wet and stay wet for extended periods of time.
If you have a metal building that is continuously accumulating moisture inside faster than it can dry out, or it is producing so much condensation that it appears to be raining inside and damaging your property, then it's time to decide what to do.
At a simplistic level, there's really only two options for dealing with moisture in metal buildings:
1) Dry the building out quickly with ventilation whenever condensation occurs.
2) Seal the building up air tight and and create conditions that impede/prevent condensation from happening in the first place.
We discuss the basic metal building insulation guide on our site and we also have an in-depth page about Moisture in Metal Buildings, but this page is meant to be a quick summary of how to address this problem.
Dry the Building Out
Using either active or passive ventilation, move air from outside through your building to keep things dry. You can use fans or just open windows and doors, but you should have enough outside air moving into the interior of the building, which pushes relatively warm-moist air inside the building to the outside. When the interior air temp of the building is equalized (or close to) ambient temp, it will be almost impossible for condensation to occur with less than 100% relative humidity.
Pros of this approach: it's simple to do (opening doors/windows) and is low (zero) cost.
Cons of this approach: the building could be hot inside (ambient during summer) or super cold inside (during winter) with this approach, so it may not be usable on some days.
Add a Vapor Barrier and Seal The Building Up
As we discuss on our Moisture in Metal Buildings Guide, if you can seal up the metal building and create a new, interior layer that can stay warmer than the dew point, you can stop condensation from forming inside your building. In this method you use BlueTex™ insulation as your new interior (instead of the inside surface of the exterior sheet metal) and you install it according to our instructions, sealing up the seams air tight. This new layer is a different temp than the exterior metal so it reduces the chance of moisture forming in the first place when you are are occasionally heating/cooling the space in semi-conditioned buildings.
Pros of this approach: You can use heating/cooling in your building on those days when you need it, no matter what the temp is outside. This means your building can be used year round.
Cons of this approach: It's more labor intensive and requires an investment, but both pay off almost immediately when you consider the comfort and usability of the space.
No matter which way you go (option 1 or option 2), you can reduce or stop moisture in a metal building with a few simple steps and a little building science knowledge. If you still have more questions, check out our Ultimate Guide to Moisture in Metal Buildings.
Quonset huts/buildings are semi-cylindrical buildings like have a flat base and an arched roofline that ties into the walls. Quonset huts are extremely cost-effective buildings that can support practically any use you may have. These buildings are lightweight prefabricated structures typically made of corrugated galvanized steel so they're unique because they have no frame.
As a storage building that is typically not using heating or cooling, there is nothing better to temper the heat gain that a radiant barrier inside a quonset building. Read on for more information on the quonset metal building insulation guide and why insulating a quonset is a great idea.
Adding BlueTex™ insulation to a frameless building involves some ingenuity and extra prep, but it's 100% worthwhile because the foil layer will reflect 97% of the sun's radiant heat away from the quonset, making it that much cooler and mimicking the effects of shade. This is important in a quonset style building because they are typically built without any insulation and so the heat permeates the metal and heats up everything inside the structure. This makes these buildings unbearably hot in the summer and impossible to use on a daily basis. See How to Install BlueTex™ Insulation on a Quonset Building
Here is an example: Think of your building like a car WITHOUT air conditioning. You and I both know that for a car with no A/C, there is a HUGE difference between when the car is parked in the SUN versus when it's parked in the SHADE, right? Just like the car example, since the foil side of BlueTex™ metal building insulation reflects 97% of radiant heat, it’s basically creating a shade from the HEAT (not the light) of the sun and the benefit is felt inside the building. Even with the doors of the building staying open, the building will FEEL significantly cooler/warmer than without the BlueTex™. Now consider this, if you parked your car in the sun and put a big thick blanket over it, would it be as cool as if you parked in the shade? No! This is why using radiant barrier technology is the best option to cool down a building, even over something like spray foam. Nothing out there blocks radiant heat like BlueTex™'s foil layer, nothing. You want to reflect the heat away, and make the building cooler immediately. This is why a quonset hut needs BlueTex™ metal building insulation - it keeps the heat out in summer, reflects heat back in during winter and it even offers some basic to full moisture control, depending on the product you choose.
With a little prep, you can install BlueTex™ insulation inside your quonset building in as little as 2 days. This means you can get back to enjoying your building year-round. With all these benefits, it's easy to see why BlueTex™ is the right choice for insulating your quonset hut - call us today for a fast quote!
If you're thinking about adding a metal building to your property you're probably doing your research and learning that there are basically 2 options for a new metal building: a pre-fabricated kit (think large-scale Lego® style) that you'd install yourself (or with hired help) and a broker who will deliver and assemble/build the metal building on site at the time of delivery.
A metal or steel building kit is just what it sounds like. You're getting a "building in a box" with all the framing, fasteners, siding/roofing, and accessories needed to complete the shell. One advantage of buying a metal building kit is that it's usually cheaper and faster to have delivered than the alternative. Although your kit may include everything you need to build it, the don't include insulation so oftentimes people are left trying to figure out what insulation is right for them. If you're getting a metal building kit, you need to choose the best metal building insulation for it.
You want to look for an insulation that provides protection from radiant heat and an insulation that is a vapor barrier to help control condensation. BlueTex™ offers both in one simple layer; pure aluminum reflects 97% of the sun's heat back and away from the building interior, and the foam & glossy white layers prevent moisture from passing through so your building can stay dry and moisture-free. We also provide full installation instructions for how to add the metal building insulation before or after the frame is constructed, so you have options no matter how you're building your metal building kit.
If you have a choice, ideally you would install this insulation on the exterior of the metal frame as the building is being put together. This allows for the maximum wall cavity depth (for adding R-value if it's a conditioned building) and make installation seamless. However don't sweat it if you can't install during the build, you can always add your metal building insulation later on, from the inside of the building.
A steel building kit is a durable and flexible way to add a metal building to your property and they're readily available too. You can control how fast the installation takes and when you're done, you'll have a durable building for just about any use. Plus you get to choose the best insulation for your building's use so your building can be more energy efficient and comfortable than traditional buildings. When you consider all the pros of going this route, it's easy to see why steel building kits are a popular choice for many people looking to build a metal building.