Tag Archives: dead attic space

Texas Post Frame Barndominium Insulation

Reader KIMBERLY in LINDEN writes:

“We are building a 52x40x10 post frame home in East Texas.  The entire thing will be living space.  I have been researching as much as possible on the best way to insulate a post frame home with metal siding and roof.  The information is overwhelming and you get a completely different answer depending on who you talk to.  I know not to skimp on insulation, but the consensus on most “barndominium” FaceBook groups is that spray foam is the only way to go.  I have reservations about that, because it may be a superior way to insulate, but it depends almost exclusively on who is doing the actual foam application.  On top of that you need to spend more money on your HVAC system to add the proper ventilation/air exchange.

I want a well insulated home that is specific to the type of building material and location we live in.  To me, “not skimping” on insulation doesn’t mean that it has to be the most expensive insulation either.  

I also know the insulation world is constantly changing and evolving, but what would your recommendation be to insulate our home in East Texas?

Thank you so much for your time!”

Mike the Pole Barn Guru responds:

Your insulation requirements will vary depending upon where you are in East Texas. Climates zone 1 (closest to Gulf) require R-30 ceilings, R-13 walls. Zone 2 requires ceilings to be R-49 and zone 3 (farthest north) goes to R-20 walls. You can look up you county’s climate zone here: https://codes.iccsafe.org/content/IECC2021P1/chapter-3-re-general-requirements#IECC2021P1_RE_Ch03_SecR301. I will cheat for you and tell you Cass County is Climate zone 3A.

For sake of discussion we will assume you have a dead attic space and will be insulating directly above a finished ceiling.  I would ventilate your dead attic space at the eave (air intake) and the ridge (air exhaust). Make provisions for preventing condensation on the underside of roof steel by having some sort of a thermal break. My personal preference is by using an Integral Condensation Control (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/09/integral-condensation-control-2/).  You will want to order roof trusses with raised heels (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/raised-heel-trusses/), so you can get full insulation depth from wall-to-wall with blown in fiberglass. Heel height should be R value of insulation divided by three and add two inches so you can achieve adequate airflow above insulation.

Should you want to condition your attic – delete ventilation, raised heels and the Integral Condensation Control. I would apply closed cell spray foam two inches to the underside of roof steel, then add open cell spray foam to desired R value.

For walls – best results will be from two inches of closed cell sprayed to inside of wall steel, then fill balance of wall cavity with either open cell spray foam, or unfaced batts (ideally stone wool https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/roxul-insulation/). You could also use BIBs to fill (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/). Do not place a Weather Resistant Barrier (WRB) under wall steel or a vapor barrier on inside of wall.

As an alternative to spray foam, you can use a WRB between framing and wall steel, then BIBs with an interior vapor barrier or faced batt insulation.

Energy costs are not going to go down, so I would encourage you to err towards more insulation rather than less – and (since most heat loss is upward) invest more into added ceiling insulation than walls.

In warmer, humid climates like yours, your HVAC system should include an Energy Recovery Ventilator (ERV) regardless of what your choice of insulation systems ends up being.

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:


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.

Will My Trusses Hold Added Ceiling Dead Load?

Understanding the Needs of Load Bearing Finish

I sadly hear this story all too often. A brand new post frame building which quite possibly will not meet the load needs of the owner due to lack of due diligence upon the part of whomever sold the building. Here is the story and my response:

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a newly constructed 30 x 40 pole barn, truss spacing 8′ o.c., 2×6. 5 PSF. I am wondering if I can cap the ceiling and insulate without over loading the bottom chord? Recommended material used for this? In laymen’s term how do I determine how much dead weight can be applied to bottom chord? At the time of construction I did not understand the load bearing needs of interior finish. Thank you – JUSTIN in MONROE

Dear Justin: Yours is one of the two most frequent issues following completion of a new post frame building, the other being insulating. Most post frame builders and building suppliers are afraid to have this discussion with potential new building owners – for fear the increase in price will scare them off! In my humble opinion, part of delivering “The Ultimate Post Frame Building Experience” is to discuss important issues such as this with clients BEFORE the building design process gets too far down the line. Shame on whomever you invested hard earned dollars with for not having had this discussion with you.

You should have been furnished with engineer sealed truss drawings for your building. If you were not, call whomever you purchased the building from, and request them. On the truss drawing will be a section which outlines all of the live and dead loads which the trusses are designed to support. If the number next to BCDL (Bottom Chord Dead Load) is less than five psf (pounds per square foot) then the trusses and the building are not designed to support a ceiling.

Take heart, if the design BCDL happens to be less than five, you can contact the truss manufacturer and for a nominal fee they can usually (especially with smaller truss spans like yours) get an engineered repair (or fix) to upgrade the trusses to support the load of the ceiling. This is never as inexpensive as having it done right to start with.

In order to install a ceiling in your building, you will need to ventilate the dead attic space you will be creating. More reading on ventilation is available here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/pole-building-ventilation/

Once past the truss loading and ventilation stages, the adequacy of the footings for the building columns to handle the extra load could pose a challenge – IF your new building was not designed to support a ceiling load to begin with. You should consult with the engineer of record who sealed the plans for your building, to verify the ability of the footing to properly transfer the loads from your building to the supporting soils. If you are unable to contact him or her, a competent engineer should be contacted to confirm what you have works, or to design a repair if not. Don’t overlook this step, or assume what you have will handle the load – we all know what assuming ends up causing – nothing but grief and having a column settle due to the added weight is not a problem you want to have to solve.

Ceiling joists will need to be installed between the bottom chord of the trusses. To support 5/8″ gypsum drywall, #2 (not standard & better) grade 2×4 or 2×6 can be placed 24 inches on center supported at each end with 2×4 joist hangers.

Planning a new post frame building? If you feel you or anyone after you who uses your new building will ever have the desire to install a ceiling (trust me – it happens a lot), at the very least have the trusses designed to support a ceiling load, as well as make provisions for adequate ventilation. The headache you solve, may very well be your own!

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