Tag Archives: cellulose insulation

Blowing Attic Insulation

Blowing Attic Insulation, Without Vapor Barrier, Below Roof Steel

A very common problem I see involves people not preparing their post frame (pole barn) buildings to adequately be insulated.

Reader NED in THURMOND writes:

“Thank you for your help. I’m in process of completing a pole barn project. It’s divided into three sections…living area, workshop, and garage. The size is 24 x 44. The outside perimeter wall is 2×6 frame with OSB and metal on the bottom and metal only in the top portion. The wall cavity is filled with unfaced insulation and poly on the inside. The roof is 8’ oc trusses with metal panels and no moisture barrier. 6 mil poly was applied to the ceiling joists. I wanted to insulate the ceiling, so I removed the poly and plan to install Sheetrock and blow in R-38 overhead. The building has a ridge vent and soffit vents in the eaves. Do I need a moisture barrier on the ceiling or will the blown in insulation suffice? What, if any problems do you anticipate? Thank you so much.”


Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Here are some anticipated problems –

Without some method of condensation control beneath your building’s roof steel you are going to have moisture problems. Blown in fiberglass or cellulose insulation will lose their effective R value once they get wet. A practical solution will be to have closed cell foam insulation sprayed upon roof steel underside. Normal recommendation would be two inches thick however your local applicator(s) can give you their best input from experience. Make sure spray foam does not block either eave air intakes or ridge exhaust points. You can create a “dam” at eaves to keep blown in insulation from filling soffits, by use of ripping high R closed cell insulation boards. Again, make sure not to block incoming airflow (you need a minimum of least one inch of free area above insulation boards).

Planning a new post frame building? If so, I encourage you to take appropriate steps for your building to have future insulation installed. Yes, there will be some initial investment involved.However it will be so much less expensive to plan for it now than to wish you would have later.

 

BIBS or Cellulose Insulation?

BIBS or Cellulose Insulation?

Loyal reader and Hansen Pole Buildings’ client Lonnie from Colorado Springs writes:

I’ve purchased one of your kits as my new residence and am waiting on plans and materials. I’m looking into insulation and as I am planning on dry-walling the interior, I am primarily interested in wall insulation. I know you are partial to BIBS® but wanted to get your opinion on the performance and cost benefits and downfalls of BIBS® vs dense pack or spray cellulose. I know there’s all kinds of debate about which is greener etc. but I’m more interested in performance and cost. Please impart your wisdom ;)”

Having used BIBS® (read more at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/)

in two of my own buildings, I have been very satisfied with both what I felt was a relatively low cost, as well as with the performance. When I had to do a recent small addition to our post frame home, I used closed cell spray foam. I have to admit I should have gone with my gut instinct, rather than trusting the installer on this one. He recommended four inches in the ceiling and three in the walls. I convinced him to do both an inch thicker and wish I would have held out for more yet as the area which is insulated has a very cold draft in the winter.

Cellulose occupies a particular low end niche in the spectrum of insulation. The thermal resistance of cellulose is comparable to fiberglass but unlike fiberglass, cellulose impedes air flow (and air transported heat loss). When blown into wall cavities, cellulose gets everywhere. It flows around wires, pipes and electrical fixtures, eliminating air pockets and restricting air transported heat loss. Cellulose is very inexpensive, being made from shredded paper and low cost chemicals. Those chemicals (the boric acid, borax or aluminum sulfate) provide superb resistance to mold, pests and fire.

Most of the volume (approximately 80%-85%) in cellulose is recycled newspaper. Cellulose has more recycled material than any other commercially available insulation. Finally, cellulose doesn’t use any greenhouse gases as propellants like spray foam formulations.

The only real downsides are dense pack cellulose insulation weighs several times more than fiberglass or rock wool. This usually isn’t an issue unless insulating at the attic slope (applied directly to the roof). One would need to account for the added insulation weight in calculating roof weight bearing loads. And, dry blown cellulose tends to sag and settle over time, reducing its effectiveness as an insulator within the system, unless an acrylic binder is added.

If I had another building of my own to insulate – I would be investing in BIBS® once again. Ultimately you will need to weigh the costs of each as provided by local installers to determine which product is going to best meet your end goals.

Which Insulation to Use?

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We live in Texas. Can we use your configuration tool and have ya’ll create a plan for us? We will be building the barn ourselves.

If so, how much would the plan be for a 24 by 40 pole barn, 12 foot side walls, 6/12 roof pitch, one garage door, one personal door and 4-6 windows?

Thanks, Dan

DEAR DAN: We’d love to help you out with your proposed project – in fact it is what we do every day! Our system is totally geared to people who want to find the most savings as well as enjoying the pride of ownership which comes with a job well done.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: We are undertaking a project of insulating our indoor riding arena/pole barn. We are installing the ceiling to the bottom of the trusses (got the ok from a structural engineer). We cannot decide what would be the best type of insulation to put in top of the ceiling. The choices: 1) spray foam, too toxic, too expensive. 2) blown cellulose/paper product-worried if it gets wet through the roof vent, worried that critters nest in it, worried that it blows around (from roof vent) 3) fiber glass – carcinogenic if you breath it in, while installing mostly, degrades through the years, critters can nest in it. 4) hard sheets of Styrofoam – like that it is solid, won’t rot if wet, won’t blow around, 4 x 8 sheets fit in between the trusses, don’t know if the “R” value is high enough or if it would insulate enough. We can’t decide what would be best. The ceiling is 29 gauge metal panels, looks like roofing. Question from Cindy in Warwick, NY

DEAR CINDY: Trying to insulate an indoor riding arena will literally be an undertaking and there is a strong possibility it will prove to be an untenable task just trying to heat the huge volume of space.

Before getting too deeply into your challenges, there needs to be a thermal break between the roof framing and the roof steel. If one was not installed at time of construction, the best choice might be to have a thin layer of spray foam placed on the underside of the roofing.

The other option would be to remove the roof steel, place the reflective radiant barrier and then reinstall – which could easily be quite an undertaking.

With the condensation problems solved, ventilation is the next step to tackle. If you have vented overhangs and ridge, it is probably adequate. If not, an entire new set of issues awaits you – as gable vents will become the only Code approved method of ventilation. If water is coming through your ridge vent, then it was done incorrectly (either wrong product, or poor installation) and should be replaced or repaired.

My recommendation is going to be blown in either cellulose or fiberglass. It is going to give you the highest R value per dollar. A professional installer can blow it in, removing the risk of you inhaling. In your part of the country you should probably be looking at as high as R-60. Once installed the probability of the insulation blowing around in your attic is small and even a nominal amount of settling can be handled by adequate thicknesses to begin with.

As far as degradation of blown insulation – we are talking about decades, not months or years. If you do blow in insulation and have vented eaves, be sure to place insulation baffles (cut from high R foam board) appropriately to keep insulation from falling into the overhangs. The baffles also allow an inch of clear net airflow over the top.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I want to submit two requests for quotes – one for a larger building and one for a smaller building – because I don’t yet know if the house I will decide to buy and renovate will have an attached garage or not.  If it does have an attached garage, then I would go with the smaller building.  If the house does not have an attached garage, then I will want to go with the larger building.  Both buildings would need a back overhead door for driving our trailered boat in through the back and out the front.   Both buildings would need one taller and wider opening for the boat and either one or two smaller openings for cars/equipment.  Both buildings would have wainscot, single-hung windows, all metal roof and siding, no skylights, eave lighting, ridge vent, etc.

I am thinking of a residential pole gable building garage/workshop combo for my husband’s home workshop, home lawn and snow equipment, 22′ boat on trailer, shelving storage, etc.

Can I submit more than 1 request for a quote on-line or would it be better to talk with a customer rep on the phone and/or submit drawings, or wait until I find the house that I am going to renovate in order to see if it has any attached garage?

Thank you,
Double Requests

DEAR DOUBLE: Some of the answer depends upon your goals. If you need some sort of budgetary figures only, to assist with your house purchasing adventure, then requesting multiple quotes online will be a quick way to get started.

Ultimately, until you have actually purchased a property, any preliminary information is going to be just what it is – preliminary. The best dictate for what you will eventually build will be determined by the property you will be building on.

Once you have an idea – you can get more than one quote either online, or by calling the toll-free number listed on the website – one of our building designers will be happy to assist you in your planning.

A caution – be sure to talk with the Planning Department which has jurisdiction over any property you are considering purchasing. There may be restrictions on what you will be allowed to build and it is best to find them out prior to signing the check.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru