Tag Archives: door insulation

Insulated Overhead Doors

Back in the days when I was building pole buildings (I had up to 35 crews constructing them), we frequently had our overhead sectional steel overhead doors hung by a professional door installation company.

Several months after the completion of one particular building, we received a call from the client, who told us his overhead doors were no longer properly opening. His doors would open about four feet, and then stop!

Now this came as quite a surprise, as we had never had a call back on work performed by these installers. The installer was called and he agreed to send a crew out to adjust the doors so they would again open properly.

To their surprise, the installers found the doors, which were installed as non-insulated doors, were now insulated overhead doors! It turned out the client had (on his own) purchased several sheets of high R board insulation, cut them into strips to fit the inside of the door panels, and glued them into place.

Those who have used insulated foam board, realize them as a fairly lightweight product. However, the weight of them was enough to completely throw off the ability of the factory door springs to be able to lift the door.

The solution? Replace the original springs, with springs which were over a foot longer in size. The client’s seemingly inexpensive “fix” to get insulated overhead doors, became suddenly fairly expensive!

There IS a lightweight solution to insulating (or adding more insulation to) existing overhead steel sectional doors – reflective insulation.

The inside of the overhead door panels need to first be cleaned to remove any dust or other debris. High strength double sided tape is then applied left to right across the top and bottom of each door panel. Reflective insulation (either white one side/aluminum the other, or aluminum each side) is then cut to the overall height of the door, and applied vertically to the double sided tape. If the reflective insulation product does not have a tab along one edge with an adhesive pull strip, the seams between each length of insulation need to be taped to provide a tight seal.

My caution – if you want to end up with insulated overhead doors, just buy them that way.  The door manufacturers will provide the cleanest application, including the right hardware to lift the door, once it’s insulated.

Climate Control and Sliding Barn Doors

One of my favorites is when new clients want to climate control their building and also choose to use sliding barn doors.

If you are unfamiliar with sliding doors, they are typically made from 1-1/2” thick steel or aluminum members which are screwed together at joints and then sheathed with steel siding. The doors are suspended by means of pairs of trolleys from an overhead track which mounts on the face of the building. Sounds fairly simple, doesn’t it?

The challenge is, in order for the door to be able to slide past the steel siding on the main portion of the building, it has to be able to clear the high ribs of the steel. Allowing for even a minimal clearance, this means a gap of an inch. There will also be gaps at both the top and the bottom of the door. For practical purposes, a sliding door will naturally seal down just about tight enough to allow a bird or your neighbor’s cat to enter the pole building. There goes your climate control…right out the door!

There are some options.  Many sliding door component companies offer a vinyl weatherseal which can be installed on the sides and across the top of the door.

While I have never personally used the product, a company called Sealeze, manufactures a brush weatherseal which is said to close gaps of up to seven inches around all types of doors including barn and aircraft hangar doors. The Brush Weatherseal conforms to irregular surfaces to provide the most effective seal possible. More effective than vinyl or rubber seals, it consists of thousands of filaments which form a solid wall, closing gaps with a complete weather-tight seal without impairing door movement. These seals are made from nylon and polypropylene filament materials.

Now assuming the air infiltration problem has been resolved, what can be done to really climate control the building by insulating the door itself?

One option is to order the sliding door in the 3-1/2” thickness instead of the standard 1-1/2”. While slightly more expensive, it will afford a thicker cavity to insulate. Spray polyurethane foam is most expensive, but will yield the highest R values at 6.4 to 6.8 per inch thickness. In a 3-1/2” cavity an R value of up to 23.8 could be achieved. Rigid foam insulation boards can also be cut to fit between the sliding door horizontal members and glued to the inside of the sliding doors steel siding.

Several types of insulation board are available. These include polystyrenes, polyisos and polyurethanes with R values which vary from 4.8 to 8 per inch.T

Look at all the efforts and costs involved in an attempt to climate control your building. The heat (or air conditioning) costs involved with sealing and insulating a sliding door, it makes sense to consider an insulated sectional steel overhead door as an alternative. And my favorite reason to order one – an overhead door can be easily fitted with a remote electronic opener!