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How Best to Use Metal Building Insulation

How To Best Use Metal Building Insulation

Loyal reader ANDY in SOUTH CAROLINA writes:

“ I read with interest the article “What house wrap is good for” on your website and would like to include house wrap on a pole building I’m currently planning to build in the upstate of South Carolina.  Typically builders in that area simply use 3” polypropylene faced fiberglass insulation between the wall girts and steel siding. My situation is a bit different than most I have seen in that my single story building will be 1500 sq ft total, with 900ft dedicated to garage and shop space, and 600 ft dedicated to a guest apartment. If I were to place house wrap between the girts and steel as I believe you recommend, could the 3 inch faced insulation simply be placed on the inside of the girts for the garage space, and significantly more fiberglass insulation used around the apartment – inside deeper cavities of flush walls?  

Thank you.”

For those of you who need to know, here is article referenced by Andy: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/11/house-wrap/

Surprisingly there are a lot of builders who “sell” people on how valuable a benefit Metal Building Insulation is. Long time readers may recall my personal adventures with it: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/metal-building-insulation-in-pole-buildings-part-i/

Three inch thick Metal Building Insulation makes for a very poor return on investment as every time it crosses a wall girt it gets compressed pretty well to R-0. If lucky, one might net an R-3 or so out of it. It also tends to cause steel siding to pucker outward between girts. Properly sealed, it does make for a decent condensation control.

My recommendation would be to place a well-sealed WRB (Weather Resistant Barrier) between all wall framing and siding. Use commercial style bookshelf girts to create an insulation cavity https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2020/05/how-to-install-bookshelf-girts-for-insulation/. Use unfaced batt insulation with a minimum 6 mil clear visqueen vapor barrier on the inside. For what you would pay for three inch Metal Building Insulation, you can completely fill your insulation cavities.