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Insulating a Shed With Foam

Most people are familiar with insulation for the home, but never consider the importance of insulating their shed. Whether you are looking to convert your shed into a micro-home or micro-barn, or just want some extra protection for your tools and electronics, insulating your shed with foam is a smart way of protecting the contents of your shed from temperature extremes. Foam is a great material for an insulation project for a number of reasons!

Why Foam for Insulation?

Very Effective Insulator

Closed-cell foams, such as polystyrene (EPS) and polyethylene, are fantastic insulators with high thermal resistances. Thermal resistance is quantified via the material’s R-value, with higher R-value materials being better at resisting the heat flow between two environments of differing temperatures.

R-values are defined based on the thickness of the tested sample, and are generally additive; layering two identical sheets of foam will provide double the thermal resistance.

Durable and Long-Lasting

Thanks to the natural structure of foam, it is one of the most durable and long-lasting materials on the market. In addition to their thermal qualities, closed-cell foams are resistant against moisture and water vapor, as well as rot, mold, and mildew.

Easy to Apply in Any Condition

Compared to spray foam insulation, using sheets of foam for insulation requires less tools and involves less cleanup. Additionally, spray foams usually require certain air and surface temperatures for the application process, whereas sheets of foam do not have that restriction and can safely be installed year-round.

Before You Begin

Before you dive into your insulation project, there are a few things you should take care of:

Inspect for Leaks and Cracks

The best insulation in the world isn’t going to do much if there are holes in your shed! Before insulating your shed with foam, it is a good idea to fix and seal windows, repair siding, and patch rooftop leaks.

As mentioned before, R-values are additive. While a wood or vinyl shed exterior has a lower R-value than closed-cell foam insulation, it still contributes to the overall thermal resistance of the enclosed area.

Take Care of Other Renovations

If you’re going to be converting your shed into a small home or barn, you’re going to want to do more than simply adding insulation and calling it a day. Depending on your climate, you may want to add heating, air conditioning, or both to ensure the comfort of your shed’s inhabitants throughout the year.

This is also a good time to take care of any other electrical upgrades you may be desiring. Extra lighting and electrical outlets can go a long way towards transforming a shed from a storage area to cozy home or productive workspace.

Unless you have experience, it is best to hire an electrician to take care of any electrical renovations.

Insulating Your Shed With Foam

Rigid Polystyrene for Flat Walls and Ceilings

Much like insulating your home, the primary way to insulate your shed with foam is to apply sheets of foam to the walls and ceiling.

Using an electric knife, sheets of polystyrene foam can easily be cut to specific sizes to fully cover the interior of your shed. The preferred method for affixing the foam insulation to the walls and ceiling is through the application of a non-solvent spray adhesive, such as Camie 373.

Pliable Polyethylene for Everything Else!

If your shed has a curved roof, the rigidity of polystyrene may not be the ideal insulating material for the job. Similar to polystyrene, it is easy cut polyethylene sheets to any desired shape using an electric knife, and then adhere the sheet to the wall or ceiling using spray adhesive.

If your shed contains pipes, they can also be insulated to prevent energy loss by wrapping the pipe in polyethylene roll, held in place using spray adhesive, adhesive tape, or rope/twine.

2 thoughts on “Insulating a Shed With Foam”

  1. Hi – you have some good info on this blog – thanks. Four questions about flexible insulation please (I need to patch up some gaps/holes in both my attic and my crawl space, and the manways are only about 2′ x 2′ – so I can’t use rigid polystyrene – it wouldn’t fit).
    1) In terms of R-values (per inch), is there much difference between cross-linked polyethylene (2# density) and polyethylene (2.2# density)? I think they’re similar, but it’s not clear from your data sheets.
    2) What about using neoprene as a flexible insulator, versus polyethylene? I think it’s more dense, so would weigh more – but how’s the R value compare to the materials in question 1)?
    3) Regarding the lowest fire risk, which of the products from 1) or 2) would be best for attic/crawl space insulation?
    4) Any thoughts about using high density (1.8#) polyurethane (upholstery foam) for insulation? It’s open cell, so I’m assuming not as good as the above options – but I’m curious about comparative R-values, flammability, etc.
    Ok thanks again for your blog and regards.

  2. 1- Yes the foams are similar in terms of R-values. 2- Yes Neoprene-HQ can be used for insulation. However we do not have test data. 3- Neoprene-HQ is fire retardant. We do have Minicel LF200 that has a high fire retardant rating that could be used for that application. 4-Polyurethane foam is not suggested for this application.

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