Tag Archives: closed cell spray foam

Answers for Brian’s Barndominium Builder

Answers for Brian’s Barndominium Builder

Should you have missed yesterday’s episode, please click back to it using link at bottom of this page – it will make more sense as well as being more entertaining!

Hello Brian ~

My Father and his five brothers were all framing contractors, so I was raised in a world of trusses two foot on center and vertical stud walls. Even in my first few years of prefabricated roof trusses (as a truss designer/salesman/manager) – we used to laugh when builders would order trusses for pole barns. 40 years of experience has taught me they were right (post frame builders).

Having personally erected a plethora of buildings, both stick frame and post frame, it is far less time consuming to erect a post frame building with widely spaced trusses (and purlins and ceiling joists) than it is to stud wall frame. With a minor investment into building a set of four ‘winch boxes’ entire sections of roof framing can be assembled on the ground and cranked up into place. Not only is this fast, it is also far safer.

Learn about winch boxes here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/winch-boxes-a-post-frame-miracle/

Mindi’s quote does not include OSB sheathing or either 30# felt or ice and water shield to go between OSB and roof steel. These can be added, however there is really no structural reason to do so – it is going to add to both investment and labor. Should you opt to have your roof sheathed, OSB (or plywood) will run from fascia to ridge across purlins 24″ on center, so spans would be no greater than trusses every two feet.

If you do opt for roof sheeting, you might want to consider going to 5/8″ CDX plywood and a standing seam steel. It will be more expensive however it does eliminate any through fasteners.

When you create an encapsulated building (spray foam to all interior surfaces), you do not want to ventilate it, as you would then lose your air seal. With your OSB’s underside sealed by closed cell spray foam and upper side protected with 30# felt or ice and water shield, there is no way for your OSB to become moist. If this is still a concern, an upgrade to plywood could be done.

Certainly one could place scissor trusses every two feet – it would then require adding structural headers (truss carriers) between columns to support them – reducing ‘line of sight’ beneath them. In order to place two foot tall windows in your knee walls above wing roofs, your building height would need to increase to allow for their height. This entails a whole bunch of connections – trusses to headers, headers to trusses and connections are always a weak link of any structural system. It would also mean having to add 2×4 flat on top of either trusses or sheathing in order to have something to screw roof steel panels to (you cannot screw directly to OSB only). Single trusses also require added bracing not required with ganged (two ply) trusses.

You will find drywall installs far better over horizontal framing (wall girts) https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/09/11-reasons-post-frame-commercial-girted-walls-are-best-for-drywall/. By utilizing bookshelf girts your exterior walls only have to be framed one time – saving materials and labor over stud walls with horizontal nailers. Building Codes also do not allow for studwalls over 12′ tall, requiring added engineering.

We do have sample building plans available on our website for your builder to review and get a feel for https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/sample-building-plans/. You may also want to invest (in advance) in our Construction Manual (please contact Bonnie@HansenPoleBuildings.com) – you do get one included with your building purchase (plus you have access to an electronic version through your login).

Please keep in mind – not only have I been involved in design, provision and/or construction of roughly 20,000 post frame buildings, I also happen to live in one. As technology brings about better design solutions, we have always been quick to adopt them, as our goal is to provide structurally sound buildings where benefits outweigh investments.

Feel free to have your builder reach out to me directly at any time.

I Think I Have Made Some Errors!

I Think I Have Made Some Errors!

If you are a post frame building kit provider or a builder reading this article – please STOP SELLING ONLY ON A CHEAP PRICE. You are leaving dissatisfied clients in your wake and doing a disservice to our industry.

Reader RICK in IDAHO writes:

“Hello Sir! I think I have made some errors when I had my PB built regarding insulation plans. 30×40 with 12’, 8” side walls on the inside. Cement floor. No Tyvek or other barriers on walls or roof, just steel on wood all around. Soffit vents all the way around and vented roof cap. Was planning to have insulation blown in walls and ceiling, with a vapor barrier (reinforced plastic?) facing interior occupied area. Did not use closure strips but used canned spray foam to insulate/seal the ribs and edges walls, top and bottom and roof. Trusses were engineered for sheet rock ceiling. Won’t have temps above 50 F in winter on occasion But will try to keep above freezing in winter. No AC in summer. South East Idaho- hot summers and some -10/20 degree nights in winter with generally low humidity year around. Edge of the Idaho desert. Any advice? Thanks for sharing your knowledge with us!”

Thank you Rick for your kind words.

I cannot fault you – an average person having a post frame (pole) building built doesn’t know what they don’t know. I see this situation occur over and over when building providers or builders do not thoroughly explain options and their benefits to clients, instead relying upon a cheap price.

If your concrete slab on grade does not have a vapor barrier under it, seal the top of your floor. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/how-to-properly-apply-post-frame-concrete-sealant/

Use two inches of closed cell spray foam against your wall and roof steel – if not, you run a high risk of condensation troubles. If you are going to blow insulation into your walls, use a product such as BIBs. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/
Do not use a vapor barrier inside of either your walls or ceiling. Make sure the spray foam applicator does not spray over your eave or ridge vents.

All of these things are manageable, they just could have been solved far more economically if they had been done right to begin with.

My Pole Barn is Chilly

Reader TIM from INVER GROVE HEIGHTS, MN has a chilling challenge, he writes:

“Fabulous site, congrats.  I have a 40×60 pole barn with 10ft ceiling to the bottom of the rafters.  Last year I put a 150k btu heater in to try and take the chill out a bit.  It didn’t work so well because the building is not tight at all.  I know I could spray foam it.  Is there anything that I could do less expensive?  I was told to put 6mil ply sheeting under the rafters at 10feet to seal that space and the leaks that are on the end of the building away from the space below where the heater is.  Plus I would not be heating the area above anymore.  I only heat it for a few hours 4-5 days a week.  Thoughts?”

Possible solutions could end up making two dollars per square foot of surface (for two inch thickness) of closed cell spray foam a bargain.

If you do not have some form of condensation control between roof framing and roof steel, you are going to need to closed cell spray foam the underside of your roof steel (again two inches), otherwise it will rain inside your building.

As heat rises, let’s begin there. Determine if your roof trusses are designed to support a ceiling load. This can be found by examining your engineered truss drawings supplied when trusses were delivered. If not available, look for the manufacturer’s stamp located on truss bottom chords. If you contact them with your site address, they should be able to pull up your building’s records. You want to find at least a five psf (pounds per square foot) ceiling (bottom chord) dead load (although three psf would support a steel liner panel ceiling). If inadequate to support a ceiling, your truss manufacturer can provide (for a nominal fee) a repair design to upgrade your trusses. Once it is determined trusses can support a load (or have been repaired in order to do so), add ceiling framing between trusses (if over two foot on center) to support drywall (my personal preference – use 5/8″ Type X) or a steel liner.

Blow in R-60 of fiberglass or cellulose insulation on top of your new ceiling. Make sure to not block airflow coming in from sidewall vented soffits. Should you not have a vented overhang and vented ridge cap, you will need to add gable vents located in the top half of each endwall with a minimum of 576 square inches of net free ventilation area in each endwall.

Made spray foam sound easy, didn’t I?

Air Sealing Your Post Frame Barndominium

Unless someone reincarnates Nikola Tesla (and he is sane) chances are good energy costs are not going to decrease. Air sealing your post frame barndominium or shouse increases your comfort by reducing drafts and cycle time your heating and cooling systems are running.

Air sealing your barndominium reduces humidity increasing comfort levels. A drafty barndominium is more than just a waste of natural resources, it also means higher energy bills. Air sealing will automatically lower your energy bills due to less leakage of conditioned air.

Using two inches of closed cell spray foam directly inside steel siding panels not only air seals exterior walls, as it is an effective vapor barrier, but also provides approximately a R-14 level of insulation. Effective applications also require installing form fitted inside closure strips at top and bottom of every wall steel panel – including window and door openings. Closure strips keep spray foam in your walls rather than oozing out and keeps small crawling and flying critters out.

For those who opt not to utilize closed cell spray foam, air sealing begins with a totally sealed Weather Resistant Barrier (WRB) wrapping all framing before steel siding is applied. For further reading on Weather Resistant Barriers please see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/01/determining-the-most-effective-building-weather-resistant-barrier-part-1/

Care should be taken to effectively use WRBs around openings for windows and doors, as well as utilizing caulking and self-adhesive sealant tape for an airtight seal. Place sill gaskets under all exterior doors. Use spray foam or caulk to fill any gaps between doors and windows and adjacent framing.

In Floor Heat System InstallationWhen placing under slab vapor barriers, run up inside of pressure preservative treated splash planks and sealing to top and around columns. Install seal gasket under pressure treated base plate (mud sill) and caulk inside edge to concrete slab.

With wall insulation systems other than closed cell, use a clear visqueen vapor barrier on the inside of all framing. Seal every penetration in this vapor barrier.

Before installing interior window and door trims, caulk where trim will meet frames. Make sure door sweeps are installed and the threshold is properly adjusted.

Common infiltration paths include attic access and simply insulating envelope (or shell) isn’t enough. In fact, insulation’s ability to perform is almost cut in “half” if not air sealed first.

Expandable polyurethane is used in areas too wide for caulk. If an area is wider than 1/4″ caulk can fall out of grooves. Acrylic-latex caulk is for all gaps small enough for caulk to function properly such as base plate and seam between floor and wall and wall and ceiling. Fire-rated caulk is non-combustible and for any areas where wires penetrate through base plates, walls, etc. (This is a recently implemented new national code.)

While it seems obvious gaps and crevices in a barndominium should be sealed, most builders either have not yet begun or just recently started utilizing air sealing processes. If hiring a contractor, make certain complete air sealing processes are spelled out in contractual documents – money you will save over your barndominium’s lifespan.

Site Prep,

Thursday’s edition will tackle three more reader questions. First up is about how level a site must be before erecting a shop, second is about pole barn homes and the many options available, and third is a question about the best method to fix an issue left by a previous builder.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am planning on building a 30’x 40’ post frame shop. The ground is dirt and has about an 8” drop from east to west. How level must the site be before erecting the shop? I will out in a concrete floor after it is built. JASON in JACKSON

DEAR JASON: Personally I would get my ground as close to level before building as possible, as it is far easier to place and properly compact fill without your building being erected. Of all things being neglected in building construction, proper site preparation and compaction probably ranks close to list tops. You will want to read my series of articles beginning here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/site-preparation/.

Photos: https://hansenpolebuildings.com/uploads/polebarnquestions/0aaae906a4e86643f513e2c2c5b99bf1.jpeg

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I saw a few pole barn homes on your website and was wondering if that is all the plans you have?  We are interested in wood siding, not metal. TRACY

DEAR TRACY: Every post frame building Hansen Pole Buildings provides is 100% custom designed to best meet your wants and needs. We encourage our clients to design homes to best fit their lifestyle. By working from inside to out and not trying to fit what you need within a preordained box just because someone said using a “standard” site might be cheaper you can arrive at an ideal design solution. Differences in dimensions from “standard” are pennies per square foot, not dollars.

You can use the links in this article to assist with determining needed spaces, sizes and how to get expertly crafted plans and elevation drawings: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/10/show-me-your-barndominium-plans-please/

If you find an existing plan somewhere you feel will meet your needs, we can adapt it to post frame construction and save you money. Hansen Pole Buildings can provide fully engineered post frame buildings with any type of siding or roofing materials.

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am working on finishing an apartment above a garage with framed walls/OSB and steel on the roof. The contractor who walked off the job did not put any type of vapor barrier between steel and purlins. I priced closed cell spray foam which is more than homeowner wants to pay. I was then thinking about using Visqueen on the ceiling (bottom cord of standard truss) with unfaced insulation for an airtight vapor barrier. But after more research it looks like that may not be a good option. There is ridge and soffit venting. What do you think? If not Visqueen or faced insulation do you think one inch of closed cell on the metal and batted down on the ceiling would work in Pennsylvania or would just an inch still allow sweating?

DEAR JOSHUA: Exasperating when contractors cheap out and leave clients (or client’s next builder) with a mess to have to fix.

You have only a couple of realistic options – first one is ugly, remove roof steel and place a thermal break between conditioned space and roof steel. This could be as simple as adding a Reflective Radiant Barrier. It never comes back together as well as it did originally, and when all is said and done, option number two will be less expensive.

Option two is closed cell spray foam. It really takes two inches to be an effective vapor barrier, and should run roughly two dollars per square foot of roof surface. While homeowner might not want to make this investment, he or she did not do their homework to initially be an informed buyer and if they do not solve this challenge it will be a problem forever.

 

How to Install Roof Reflective Radiant Barriers

How To Install Roof Reflective Radiant Barriers

DAVE in SPRING HILL writes:

“Can you please tell me how the reflective radiant barrier is applied? Does it go directly on top of the fully recessed purlins and then the steel is screwed over top of that? Is it applied vertically or horizontally? All of the videos that I’ve seen say there needs to be an air space between. It should have been stressed to me at the time of purchase that this was a critical material of the construction of my shop and it was not portrayed to me in that manner. I purchased it separate and I am at that step.  I believe the sales person must have been new because a lot of mistakes were made.”

Any steel roofed building should have some sort of provision made to prevent warm moist air from inside contacting cooler roof steel and condensing. There are many possible solutions to this – two inches of closed cell spray foam, an integral condensation control or a reflective radiant barrier being most popular (as well as being aligned from greatest to least in terms of financial investment of materials). Chapter 14 of your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual does give detailed instructions for this installation.

Post frame buildings have a myriad of possible options and accessories, as well as being utilized for a plethora of end uses. Considerable discussion is most often involved prior to an order being placed – and on occasion there are cases where important features are lost during discourse.

We do attempt to avoid situations such as yours and you may recall having approved this Dripstop to help control roof condensation.
Here are your requested installation instructions:

Start roof reflective radiant barrier at same building end roof steel installation will begin. galReflective radiant barrier roll end begins flush with eave strut outside edge. Reflective radiant barrier leading “long” edge begins flush with building end truss outside. 

Reflective radiant barrier is installed to run eave to eave over ridge. Splices are best made directly on fully recessed purlin tops.  

Other than to make a roll end square, starting edge will remain untrimmed.  Start flush at eave strut outside edge.  Opposite end is cut flush with opposite eave strut outside edge (or ridge purlin upper edge for translucent or Vented Ridge applications).

Using a minimum 5/16” galvanized staple, staple through reflective radiant barrier to eave strut top.  As an alternative to staples, 1” galvanized roofing nails (with big plastic washers) also work well.  Roll out reflective radiant barrier across fully recessed purlins (up and over ridge) with aluminum side up and white side down (towards building inside). 

Pull reflective radiant barrier past opposite eave strut edge and staple to top. Trim roll off flush with opposite eave strut outside edge.  

Install next roll in same manner, stretching roll tightly, align properly and close butt sides.

For A1V reflective radiant barrier with an “adhesive tab”: These rolls have an approximate 1” tab (without air cells) extending along one reflective radiant barrier roll long side.  At a seam, where two reflective radiant barrier rolls are joined, pull tab across adjacent roll by 1”, remove “pull strip” from adhesive, and firmly press two rolls together. Properly installed, each roll will have a 72” net coverage.

For square edge rolls, use a butt joint and seal seams properly with tape.  

2” white vinyl tape or a silicone bead can be used to make permanent seams between ends and reflective radiant barrier roll sides. 

For maximum air and vapor tightness, keep perforations in reflective radiant barrier to a minimum. Seal all perforations with reflective radiant barrier tape. 

Exaggerated claims are often made for insulating value of reflective radiant barriers and all of them rely upon a dead air space in a completely sealed scenario – great in a laboratory situation, however impossible to achieve in real life building construction. Reflective radiant barriers should be looked upon (when seams are properly sealed) as a condensation deterrent.

Fishing Cabin Insulation

Fishing Cabin Insulation Blog-Compliments to Rick Carr in sharing this post on how he insulated his fishing cabin. 

My insulation challenges are a little unique due to having an above ground crawl space, radiant floor heating above the sub floor, 2×8 and 2×10 walls and having a partial attic area (over the bedrooms) with the remainder a vaulted ceiling.  My insulation is done and the drywall is going up.  The test for the plan will wait until next winter.

Here is what I did.

First I had closed cell foam sprayed.  In the crawl space, walls 3 inches closed cell spray foam, completely sealed and R 21.  Also we sprayed the underside of the subfloor to 1 ½ to 1 ¾ inches.  The goal was to get R 1- to 12 on the underside of the floor.  The radiant floor people tell me that heat moves to cold, so R 12 under the floor will have heat going up into the living space rather than down into the crawl space.  There is also R 10 foam board and poly under the concrete.

I also had 3 inches of spray foam, R 21, on the underside of the roof steel.  The drywall will go on the underside of the roof purlins.  We used 2 x 10 roof purlins to get a 9.5 inch cavity for insulation.  I put Tyvek under the roof steel, so the spray foam actually adheres to the Tyvek, this will allow replacement of roof sheets, if ever needed.  This still leaves a 6 inch space for R 21 unfaced batt insulation.  Spray foam people will tell you that because the spray foam completely seals the effect is greater than the R value.

The Attic side of the divider wall was also prayed with 3 inches of closed cell foam.  There wasn’t a normal 6 inch cavity to fill with batt insulation which made the spray foam a good choice for this.  We also blew in 16.5 inches of fiberglass insulation into the attic above the bedrooms for R 49 in that area.

 The walls are another matter.  The 42 foot walls on the north and south sides of the building are 2 x 10 walls with 9.5 inch cavity.  The 30 foot east and west walls are 2×8 walls with 7.5 inch cavity.  I chose blown in wall insulation for the walls.  It is commonly thought that you can only have a pro blow insulation into your walls, not so, I did it myself, with some help.

I chose Owen Corning’s Procat product and system, which can be purchased from contractor supply houses. https://www.owenscorning.com/insulation/products/procat  This is the same product as used in the ceiling.  The supply house will loan you the blower, which has a control at the end of the hose.  You staple Insulweb netting to the framing, cut a small slit in the netting, insert the hose and blow it in.  This might be a little more costly than batt insulation, but where do you find batts for 2 x 10 walls?  Also the electric all over the place gets in the way of batts, no problem, filled in and around.  The blown in insulation fills into all cracks and spaces.  What you spend in the product is also made up in time/labor savings; it goes very quickly once you get the hang of it and the netting up.

The puffing or pillowing is not a factor because the product is light enough that the drywall will straighten it.  Also you can use your free hand to minimize the pillowing if you have a large cavity.  The product R value for 5.5 inch cavity walls (2×6) is between R 22 and R 24 depending on how full you pack it in.  With my 2×8 and 2×10 walls, the R value is literally off the chart, well over R 30.

 

I think I’ll be snug this winter.

Insulating an Existing Post Frame Building Attic

We are in an era where climate control of brand new post frame buildings is extremely common. It is also much easier to insulate (or plan for it) at time of construction, rather than having to go back and do it afterwards. 

For new post frame buildings, here is my Ultimate Guide to Post Frame Building Insulation: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/11/post-frame-building-insulation/.

Loyal reader DAMON in SPOKANE is fortunate to have some parts of his existing post frame shop made easy for retrofit insulation. He writes:

“Hi,

First I want to say I love your web site, the information I’ve been reading is invaluable! I am located in Spokane County. I have a 24x24x10 post frame garage that was here when I purchased the house. The walls have commercial girts R19 insulation. I would like to heat this garage and use it as a woodworking shop. Right now the ceiling is open and there is no insulation. The roof is sheeted with OSB, then felt then steel roofing panels. There is no ventilation or overhangs to install soffit vents. The roof has 4:12 pitch.

I am considering one of two options. The first is to spray foam under the roof decking with closed cell foam, about 2″ which would give me about an R14. This would mean I would have to heat a larger air volume all the way up to the roof. Is this an effective method? Will the closed cell foam seal everything and hold the warm air in efficiently? I supposed I could install a couple of slow turning ceiling fans to push the warm air back down.

The second alternative is to add a ceiling. I was able to confirm that the garage was built with bottom load trusses. I could install joists and an osb ceiling and then go with a blown in insulation, maybe R38. Because there is no ventilation I was thinking of adding large appropriately sized gable vents to provide the ventilation since I do not have soffit vents nor a ridge vent.

Of the two options, is one a better consideration than the other? I know you’re probably pretty busy, I appreciate any time you have to help me with my decision.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:
Thank you very much for your kind words, hopefully you have been entertained as well as informed!

As your building was built with trusses designed to support a ceiling, I would recommend you pursue this route. You would need to add gable end vents in the upper half of each gable with a net free ventilation area of at least 139 square inches per end. Please keep in mind this is not vent dimension, but net free area only.

Your building’s roof trusses probably do not have raised “energy heels” so it would be most practical to use closed cell spray foam insulation along two feet closest to each eave sidewall (applied to top side of ceiling finish). I would recommend you blow a minimum of R-49 across the balance of the attic area as this will meet minimum recommended attic insulation levels from www.energystar.gov. Your spray foam applicator can make recommendations for the thickness of his or her product.

Also, please consider using 5/8″ Type X sheetrock for your ceiling. It will be less expensive than OSB and provides some degree of fire resistance.

Ganged Wood Trusses & Closed Cell Spray Foam Post Frame Condensation Control

Ganged Wood Trusses and Closed Cell Spray Foam Post Frame Condensation Control

Ganged wood trusses are most usually two individually fabricated metal connector plated roof trusses, fastened together with either nails or even better Simpson Drive Screws (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/simpson-drive-screws/), so they work together as a conjoined pair.

True doubled trusses (not two single trusses spaced apart by blocking) afford many structural advantages (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/09/true-double-trusses/). However if closed cell spray foam is being used to control condensation underneath steel roofing, a little extra prevention is worth a pound (or two) of cure.

Most often conditioned post frame buildings are designed around having a flat (or slightly sloped using scissor trusses) ceiling. Warm moist air from this conditioned space rises into building’s attic and hopefully has a place to go. Most generally best design solution involves venting this dead attic space. Appropriate amounts of air intake provided by eave soffit vents and air exhaust utilizing a vented ridge will eliminate most moisture.

As those of us who did not nap during science classes are aware – warm air rises. Some of this warm air will get trapped below roof purlins or other attic framing members and not exhaust as imagined.

There are many methods of controlling or eliminating this warm and moist air from coming into contact with cooler roof steel. Least expensive (although potentially labor intensive if windy) would be a reflective radiant barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/effective-reflective-insulation/). One step up in investment, but very easily installed, would be an Integral Condensation Control (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/03/integral-condensation-control/).

Some folks opt to sheath over trusses and roof purlins with OSB (Oriented Strand Board) or plywood, with 30# asphalt impregnated paper (roofing felt) placed between sheathing and roof steel. This can tend to run up one’s investment, as not only will more material and labor be directly involved, but trusses also must be appropriately designed for added weight carrying ability.

Enter closed cell spray foam. Long time readers have grown tired of me solving condensation challenges by people who did participate in one of these solutions and are now faced with a drip-drip-drip. Two inches of closed cell spray foam applied beneath a steel roof between purlins and trusses will create an almost entirely effective thermal break and take care of nearly all condensation issues.

Except…..
Metal connector plates trusses have pressed steel plates on each side. These plates project slightly from lumber faces and when two trusses are joined together, some gaps will occur between them. Gaps wide enough to allow for a significant flow of warm moist air to reach your roof steel, condense and start wreaking havoc.

There is, however, a simple fix, easily done during building framing. Before conjoining two or more trusses, place enough urethane or acoustic caulking between top cords to provide a complete air seal when in service!

Fire Rated Spray Foam Insulation

Spray foam insulation has become increasing popular for achieving high R value building shells. One downside of spray foams has been they are not being fire resistant.

I was pretty excited to read this on a post frame building contractor’s website:

“Installing foam insulation can either be sprayed or foamed-in-place. Foam has the ability to create an air barrier for the smallest of air leakages. Spray foam doesn’t retain water, providing excellent protection from the growth of mold and mildew. While foam insulation is generally more costly than other insulation options, it does have higher R-values and is fire rated.” 

As this particular contractor is a friend of mine, I dropped him back this question, “Spray foam insulation is fire rated?”

To this he replied, “Yes, some are, Tiger makes one.”

News to me, so I fired up my laptop and headed to Google, looking for more information.

Tiger Foam™ insulation (https://tigerfoam.com/sprayfoaminsulation/), according to their website, “is a proven leader in providing spray foam kits, supplies and accessories to homeowners and contractors alike.”

Again, according to their website, “We offer retails sales for small projects and wholesale, bulk pricing for bigger jobs. Our expert customer service team is always available to answer questions and help plan projects. Whether you’re trying to save money on your monthly energy bills or working to satisfy your customers. Tiger Foam can help. Most of all, our products provide high performance and great value. Become a customer today and get you the tools you need to start saving energy dollars!”

Well, sure enough, Tiger Foam™ offers a ‘Fast Rise’ kit providing a Class 1 Fire Rating. This fire rating means this building material is highly resistant to fire and does not spread flames quickly. Building materials with a Class 1 fire rating are often man-made or nonorganic substances. Other Class 1 building materials include brick, tile and cement.

I have never personally installed Tiger Foam™, however I have paid to have closed cell spray foam insulation installed by a professional installer. If you are considering using a closed cell spray foam for your new project, discuss fire rating with your installer of choice.

Pole Barn Guru Blog Review

This is the third year the Pole Barn Guru blog has been in competition for the Best Construction Blog. Last year this blog was second in the world, tying for first in quality, however losing the popular vote. Part of this process is a review of each blog by Mark Buckshon of Construction Marketing Ideas (www.ConstructionMarketingIdeas.com).

Below is Mr. Buckshon’s review:

Hansen Buildings’ Pole Barn Guru: Practical information about post frame (pole barn) structures

By Mark Buckshon

 –March 23, 2019

The Pole Barn Guru is currently leading in the 2018 Best Construction Blog’s popular vote and unless there is a surprising surge from supporters of another blog by the popular vote’s conclusion on March 31, this blog will probably earn the popular vote win status.

There are reasons for this support — the blog combines depth and focus as a “go to” resource for post frame (pole barn) buildings; and it doesn’t avoid the challenges with these low-cost structures, often used for outdoor storage and as rural outbuildings.

I’ve been reading some posts, for example, dealing with issues relating to condensation and insulation, some initiated by questions from outsiders — that is folks who have a pole barn structure not provided by Hansen.

Rather than brushing off these external inquiries with a: “Hey, that’s not my problem” attitude, this blog provides some practical answers, even as it indicates the issues probably wouldn’t have been problems if they had been considered in the initial design and purchase.

That educational aspect makes this blog truly worthy.

Consider, for example, this question in a recent blog post:

Hello! 

I have a pre-existing pole building that I am having a ton of trouble with. It is partitioned into two rooms, the back room is heated to around 50F. The attic space/loft space has a lot of condensation and I cannot seem to get this fixed. I have tried a lot of solutions, none of which have worked. I know that you build these types of buildings so I am hoping that you can recommend someone who might be able to come in and look at this issue and help me with a solution that works. I have no idea what to do next and I am a local business owner – my business is at a standstill right now until I can get this issue fixed. If you can recommend any general contractor, or anyone who might have expertise in pole buildings who I can contact I would greatly appreciate it. 

Thank you so much!”

The question is posed after a brief introduction:

Long time readers should be thoroughly drenched with solutions to condensation issues by now. As post frame construction has moved off farms and into suburbia, climate control has brought with it a plethora of condensation challenges.

So, what are the answers?

To control your condensation challenge you need to either remove warm moist air from inside your building, prevent this air from becoming in contact with surfaces at or below dew point, heat and/or ventilate. Here’s a brief summary, followed by solutions specific to your case: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/how-to-reduce-condensation-in-post-frame-buildings/.

If you do not have some sort of thermal break below your pole building’s roof steel – two inches of closed cell spray foam should be applied. This process will be best done by a professional installer. Make certain to not block ventilation intake and exhaust points.

Unless you know for certain a vapor barrier was placed under your building’s concrete slab, seal the floor.  https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/how-to-properly-apply-post-frame-concrete-sealant/ 

and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/siloxa-tek-8505-concrete-sealant/.

Vent any dead attic spaces. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/03/adequate-eave-ridge-ventilation/.

Heating your building to a temperature above dew point will also solve this issue. Avoid heating with propane, as it adds moisture to the air.

Now in my opinion, that sort of detailed, practical advice shows how an effective, consistent and useful blog can provide real value to clients and potential customers alike (and serve a general community purpose, even for people who will never purchase a thing from Hansen.)

This value translates to search engine effectiveness and of course a reputation for knowledge and service. If you are thinking about purchasing a post frame structure, for example, I’m confident after reading through the relevant blog postings you’ll have the confidence to ask the right questions and share the site/usage observations to ensure that the structure serves its purpose and problems such as condensation or poor insulation don’t occur in the first place.

More Condensation Fun

Long time readers should be thoroughly drenched with solutions to condensation issues by now. As post frame construction has moved off farms and into suburbia, climate control has brought with it a plethora of condensation challenges.

Reader KRYSTA in SPOKANE writes:

“Hello! 

I have a pre-existing pole building that I am having a ton of trouble with. It is partitioned into two rooms, the back room is heated to around 50F. The attic space/loft space has a lot of condensation and I cannot seem to get this fixed. I have tried a lot of solutions, none of which have worked. I know that you build these types of buildings so I am hoping that you can recommend someone who might be able to come in and look at this issue and help me with a solution that works. I have no idea what to do next and I am a local business owner – my business is at a standstill right now until I can get this issue fixed. If you can recommend any general contractor, or anyone who might have expertise in pole buildings who I can contact I would greatly appreciate it. 

Thank you so much!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

To control your condensation challenge you need to either remove warm moist air from inside your building, prevent this air from becoming in contact with surfaces at or below dew point, heat and/or ventilate. Here’s a brief summary, followed by solutions specific to your case: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/how-to-reduce-condensation-in-post-frame-buildings/.

If you do not have some sort of thermal break below your pole building’s roof steel – two inches of closed cell spray foam should be applied. This process will be best done by a professional installer. Make certain to not block ventilation intake and exhaust points.

Unless you know for certain a vapor barrier was placed under your building’s concrete slab, seal the floor. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/02/how-to-properly-apply-post-frame-concrete-sealant/ and https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/siloxa-tek-8505-concrete-sealant/.

Vent any dead attic spaces. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/03/adequate-eave-ridge-ventilation/.

Heating your building to a temperature above dew point will also solve this issue. Avoid heating with propane, as it adds moisture to the air.

Unvented Post Frame Attics

Unvented Post Frame Attics

Energy efficiency concerns have literally become a “hot” (pun intended) topic in new construction, and post frame construction methods are no exception to inclusion. Traditionally buildings have had insulation placed or blown into dead attic spaces, directly above a ceiling. Unvented attics have entered fray as an alternative.

 

To construct an unvented attic, air-impermeable insulation (think closed cell spray foam) will be applied in direct contact with steel roofing (or sheathing) underside and gable end walls so as to tie roof insulation into wall insulation below. Moving insulation boundary to the roof deck underside allows temperature and humidity conditions in the attic to be reasonably close to those of the conditioned building interior.  No attic floor vapor retarder or insulation should be installed with an unvented attic assembly.

Closed cell spray foam insulation products meet code requirements for use of an air-impermeable barrier applied to underside of roof. This prevents air infiltration and limits accumulation of airborne moisture in the attic. Using closed cell spray foam insulation applied to underside of roof deck eliminates a need for alternative methods of condensation control such as reflective radiant barriers or CondenStop (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/07/condenstop/).

In hurricane or wildfire prone areas wind-driven rain or embers cannot enter an unvented attic assembly, as there are no vents.

Spray Foam

Vented attic designs originated in cold climate areas. In these cold climates, attic ventilation is commonly used to remove warm, humid air from attic spaces. Air leakage from conditioned spaces below a ceiling greatly increased likelihood of moist air entering attics. Without adequate attic ventilation, the underside of the roof deck can have condensation form and interior heat can cause roof surface snowmelt leading to ice damming.

Use of venting to control moisture in cold climate attics comes with some inherent challenges. In high snowfall areas, snow accumulation and drifting can often block ridge vents. This limits venting and increases potential of damage due to ice damming, roof leaks and condensation.

Closed cell spray foam does not come without added upfront investment costs, however some of these can be mitigated in materials and/or labor savings.

Considering climate control of your new post frame building? If so, an unvented attic may be a viable solution worth investigating.

 

Net Zero Post Frame Homes

Net Zero Post Frame Homes

Energy efficiency has become a huge focus in every type of home construction. Post frame homes can be net zero, just as well as stick frame.

Our environmental commitment allows us to design post frame homes to reduce environmental impact. High performance design and advanced engineering make it easier and more attainable to build a home producing as much energy as it needs through renewable energy, known as net-zero energy.

A net-zero home will be more than a house with solar panels. It’s a house designed to put energy conservation first: from framing to finishing. An airtight structural shell paired with additional options – such as highly insulated wall systems, high performance windows, passive solar design and more – mean any Hansen Pole Buildings’ post frame home can be designed to achieve net-zero energy.

Reader IAN from MIDDLETON writes:

“Mike-

First, I want to let you know how much I have enjoyed reading your blog. I started reading through it topically to answer some of my questions, but because I have been finding so much good information, I resolved to start at the beginning and read through chronologically to make sure I don’t miss anything. Thank you for sharing your lessons learned from decades of experience.

I’ve been exploring options for a cost effective and energy efficient single family home. Reading on your blog has convinced me of the advantages of post frame construction, but I have also been reading about ways to achieve high energy efficiency. In particular, I’m interested in ways to incorporate thorough air sealing and extra insulation (in particular for walls) into a post framed structure. I have found numerous references on the internet to the ways that post frame construction is generally moderately more energy efficient that stick framing, but I have only found a few examples that specifically address trying to achieve a very high level of energy efficiency in a post framed house. The clearest example I’ve found is the following short video that profiles the construction of a net zero single family home in upstate New York: https://youtu.be/PKXNwdvUNj4

My questions for you:

Have you designed a post framed home with high energy efficiency in mind? What kinds of strategies did you use to achieve high energy efficiency?

Have you ever designed a super-insulated post framed home, and if so, how did you incorporate the additional insulation? Some approaches used in stick framing are double stud exterior walls, or supplemental rigid foam insulation between the sheathing and siding (likely not ideal for a steel clad post framed building). Have you seen these or other super-insulation strategies used on post framed buildings?

Finally, have you ever had a post framed home blower door tested for airtightness, if so, how did it perform? Do you have any recommendations for air sealing strategies specific to post frame construction?

Thank you for considering my questions; keep up the good work!”

Thank you for your kind words. Sadly, most post frame home clients are just not savvy enough to be willing to make an extra upfront investment to super insulate their buildings.  I have designed several post frame residential buildings for my own use, so I have learned from mistakes. Also, technologies have improved greatly in recent years, making energy efficient designs more practical.

For walls, my current best recommendation would be to use two inches of closed cell spray foam against siding insides. Walls would be framed with bookshelf style girts to create a deep insulation cavity. BIBs insulation would be used to entirely fill the wall cavity. Inside of the  girts, covering columns as well, two inches of rigid closed cell foam board would be applied with glue, and all seams sealed. Gypsum wallboard (sheetrock) would be then glued to the foam board. Using rigid foam board inside eliminates any thermal bridging as well as creating a vapor barrier.

With 2×8 bookshelf girts, a wall system of over R-50 could be obtained using description above.

I am not yet sold about creating a warm attic – so I’d use 22 inch raised heel trusses and blow in 20 inches of fiberglass to go R-60 and beyond.

I haven’t seen any post frame air tightness tests, however even 25 years ago (when I was building post frame buildings) we had instances where our post frame homes and commercial buildings were so tight, a window had to be opened in order to close exterior entry doors!

Good Luck! And let me know how it all turns out. I’d love to see pictures of your progress!

 

Will My Post Frame Building Support a Ceiling?

Will My Post Frame Building Support a Ceiling?

One of my frequently received questions – wanting to add a ceiling into a post frame building and wondering if the building will support the added weight. Other frequent questions include condensation issues and ventilation, so this reader has hit upon a trifecta.


Reader BRYAN in SWANTON writes:

“I am having some condensation issues. And I was curious about insulating the building. Also wanted to ask if my building is able to have a ceiling installed. Thanks for the fast reply.”

 

 


By any chance have you recently poured a concrete slab-on-grade inside of your building? If so, until concrete fully cures, it will expel a great deal of moisture inside of your building. Solution – open your doors to allow moisture to escape and keep them open until condensation issues no longer exist. Read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/01/condensation-roof-steel/.

 

If you poured a slab without a well-sealed vapor barrier underneath, it will contribute to excessive moisture challenges. If no vapor barrier, top of slab should be sealed: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/siloxa-tek-8505-concrete-sealant/

 

Your new post frame building and its trusses were not ordered to be able to support the added weight of a ceiling. It may be possible to upgrade your trusses with an engineered repair to be able to carry a bottom chord dead load of five psf (pounds per square foot) or more. Plan upon an investment of $295 (plus sales tax if applicable), even if a truss repair cannot be designed. Contact Justine at justine@hansenpolebuildings.com if you are interested in going this route.

If you are able to get a repair to install a ceiling, this newly enclosed attic area will need to be adequately ventilated. This may be a possible solution: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/07/my-pole-barn-needs-ventilation/

In order to insulate, best solution (although costly) may be to use closed cell spray foam insulation. If you purchase an insulation kit for your overhead door, you will need to change out door springs in order to handle the added weight.

 

 

Avoiding Condensation When Insulating an Existing Pole Barn

Avoiding Condensation When Insulating Existing Pole Barn

The last thing people want to have to deal with would be condensation dripping in their pole barn. When an originally unheated cold storage building becomes repurposed to be climate controlled, possible condensation poses some new challenges.

If you are reading this article and plans are to construct an unheated building, I implore you to consider taking steps so it could be repurposed to be heated and/or cooled later. Please browse through some of my previous articles regarding this subject, such as: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/06/pole-barn-insulation-oh-so-confusing/.

Reader JOSEPH in ALPINE writes:

“We have a pre-existing pole barn that we want to turn into a insulated building. Knowing that condensation would be a problem, I’m looking for a professional to consult with so it is done correctly. Is this something you do and what are your rates?

 

The building is 15×15, on a pad. There is no attic- 1/4” plywood is nailed to the ceiling 2x4s. We’d like to keep this height since it affords space for a loft. There is a single central roof vent. I read your response to one customer about using unbatted insulation on the walls and punching holes in the plastic to allow venting. But how does one allow for venting when there is no attic space? Our main house (1937 farm home, remodeled to modern code in 2003) is a metal roof with the upstairs rooms opened up, no attic, no roof vents. How can one replicate what is done in the house with this pole barn?

Thanks.”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru writes:

I am deeply flattered to have someone offer to hire me for a consultation. Here is my response to Joseph:

I am a bit geographically inconvenient to be able to come and see your building. However, based upon experience and what I would do if it was my own building, I will give you some free advice. You are welcome to use it, or discard it as best you see fit.

As you do not know if a vapor barrier exists beneath your existing concrete slab, I would use a high quality surface sealant over it. Your major water source for potential condensation will be through this slab. I’d close off roof vent, and have inside surface of siding and roofing closed cell spray foamed. Your local installers can give you recommendations for thickness, however I would not go with less than two inches thickness. If possible or practical, unfaced fiberglass insulation may be added to the inside to increase R value. However, it might be most practical to just pay a little extra for thicker spray foam.