Insulating a Steel Truss Building
Reader JONATHAN in MISSISSIPPI has been planning a building using steel trusses and has insulating questions. He writes:
“I have recently found your blog and I have to say I am on good information overload. I’ve read your posts on insulation and air barrier more than twice maybe more. I live in Mississippi so hot and so humid.
My plan is to build a 32×60 using steel trusses 10′ on center and 2×6 purlins and at the 28′ mark I am wanting to put up a wall to cut the space in two, half wood shop half living area. My biggest question is about insulating the roof for both areas the same, which would be a closed/unvented roof (no attic). I am going to put sheeting over the whole building (walls and roof) and use closed cell spray foam for insulation on the roof, filling the entire cavity of the 2×6’s. On the underside of the 2×6’s I am going to install some seasoned metal for the ceiling.
My question is, what if anything do I need to install between the metal roofing and the sheeting? Tyvek? 30# roof felt? or would this work https://www.lowes.com/pd/48-in-x-250-ft-1000-sq-ft-Synthetic-Roof-Underlayment/3151833? Does a unvented/closed roof need to breathe any? Because if it doesn’t I really like the synthetic roof underlayment. Or do you have any suggestions?
On the walls I am going to stud vertically between the posts with 2×6’s with sheeting on the outside, cover it with Tyvek, and metal over that. What suggestions do you have on insulating the walls? Do I need an additional vapor barrier on the inside of the walls? I was thinking maybe a thin layer of closed cell foam on the inside and going with mineral wool insulation batts between the studs.
I had a lot more questions than I thought I did, whew! I just want to make sure I am doing it right, without any problems down the road and I am ok with a little overkill and cost to do it. Just wish I could afford/justify SIP panels for the roof.
Any and all information and guidance is appreciated.”
Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:
I will first express my concern for your desire to use steel trusses. Unless your provider can furnish engineer sealed drawings showing adequate load carrying capacity for your particular circumstances (you have added dead loads beyond what they are typically designed for, as well as an appropriate wind load) I’d be running away from them. They also should be designed to minimize deflection. I’d want some written proof of these trusses having been third party inspected for quality as well. You are going to be making a significant investment into your new building – no reason to have it fall down around you.
Moving forward. Between roof sheathing and steel roofing you do need to have something. A minimum of 30# felt should be used, although synthetic underlayment would be just fine. You may want to investigate a system including a ventilated roof mat, as it will reduce thermal heat transmission. A weather resistant barrier such as Tyvek would be an absolute wrong product.
For walls, you should create a thermal break between studs and interior. I’d glue two inch closed cell foam boards to stud inside face and then glue 5/8″ gypsum wallboard to foam board inside face. I’d probably fill wall cavity with BIBs insulation rather than closed cell foam and mineral wool batts. This will more fully fill cavity without creating voids.
I have yet to see SIPs as being economically practical. They appear to be expensive enough so as to preclude ever being able to recoup investment costs.