Tag Archives: reflective radiant barrier

Planning for a Post Frame Home

When it comes to planning for a new post frame home, shouse (shop/house) or barndominium, there are a myriad of questions and concerns to be answered and pondered.

Or, at least I hope you are – rather than just stumbling in blindly!

Reader NICK in NORTH CAROLINA writes:

“Hi, I’m looking into options for building a post frame home in the coming year in NC and wanted to understand more of the details regarding your current building products and suggested techniques.  

Do you provide a means to support the posts on top of the concrete pillars with a bracket vs the post being embedded into the concrete?

Your current package only provides for insulation of the roof, no interior walls, correct?

Can another 2×6 skirt board be added to the inside of the building to isolate the concrete flooring from the post and to provide a cavity for insulation to be installed between the outside/inside girts?

Do you have a listing of contractors that are familiar with your products in given areas that could be used to build the structure?

If using the design service listed for $695, does that include the design for all interior walls/rooms/fixtures as well as electrical/plumbing/mechanical?

Thanks for any information you can provide.”

All good questions. In answer to them:

Yes we can provide plans with a third-party engineered design for bracket set columns, as well as brackets. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/

We typically recommend using either a Reflective Radiant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/effective-reflective-insulation/) between roof framing and roof steel, or using roof steel with factory applied Dripstop https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/11/drip-stop/

We can provide batt insulation for walls and/or ceilings, however there are more energy efficient methods of insulating https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/06/pole-barn-insulation-oh-so-confusing/

It (extra 2×6 interior splash plank) could, however there are structural advantages to having columns surrounded (constrained) on exterior splash plank interior. (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/importance-of-constrained-posts/) I’d recommend doing a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation post frame style instead: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/09/post-frame-frost-walls/

Although our buildings are designed for an average literate English speaking person to successfully construct their own building (most of them do, and do a wonderful job – because they will read and follow instructions), for those who do need an erector, in many areas we can provide contacts for you to vet.

Our floor plan and elevation package offer (http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q)  includes all interior walls, rooms and fixtures. For an added fee you can include electrical/plumbing/mechanical (note: typically all of these last three services can usually be provided at no charge by subcontractors who will be doing these specific trades).

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions. An answer to most questions can also be found at www.HansenPoleBuildings.com by clicking on SEARCH in the upper right hand corner of any page. Type in a word or two and hit ENTER and up pop relevant articles.

Planning for a New Post Frame Home

When it comes to planning for a new post frame home, shouse or barndominium, there are a myriad of questions and concerns to be answered and pondered.

Or, at least I hope you are – rather than just stumbling in blindly!

Reader NICK in NORTH CAROLINA writes:

“Hi, I’m looking into options for building a post frame home in the coming year in NC and wanted to understand more of the details regarding you current building products and suggested techniques.  

Do you provide a means to support the posts on top of the concrete pillars with a bracket vs the post being embedded into the concrete?

Your current package only provides for insulation of the roof, no interior walls, correct?

Can another 2×6 skirt board be added to the inside of the building to isolate the concrete flooring from the post and to provide a cavity for insulation to be installed between the outside/inside girts?

Do you have a listing of contractors that are familiar with your products in given areas that could be used to build the structure?

If using the design service listed for $695, does that include the design for all interior walls/rooms/fixtures as well as electrical/plumbing/mechanical?

Thanks for any information you can provide.”

All good questions. In answer to them:

Yes we can provide plans with a third-party engineered design for bracket set columns, as well as brackets. https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2019/05/sturdi-wall-plus-concrete-brackets/

We typically recommend using either a Reflective Radiant Barrier (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/05/effective-reflective-insulation/) between roof framing and roof steel, or using roof steel with factory applied Dripstop https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/11/drip-stop/

We can provide batt insulation for walls and/or ceilings, however there are more energy efficient methods of insulating https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/06/pole-barn-insulation-oh-so-confusing/

It (extra 2×6 interior splash plank) could, however there are structural advantages to having columns surrounded (constrained) on exterior splash plank interior. (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2018/11/importance-of-constrained-posts/) I’d recommend doing a Frost Protected Shallow Foundation post frame style instead: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2017/09/post-frame-frost-walls/

About Hansen BuildingsAlthough our buildings are designed for an average literate English speaking person to successfully construct their own building (most of them do, and do a wonderful job – because they will read and follow instructions), for those who do need an erector, in many areas we can provide contacts for you to vet.

Our floor plan and elevation package offer (http://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/post-frame-floor-plans/?fbclid=IwAR2ta5IFSxrltv5eAyBVmg-JUsoPfy9hbWtP86svOTPfG1q5pGmfhA7yd5Q)  includes all interior walls, rooms and fixtures. For an added fee you can include electrical/plumbing/mechanical (note: typically all of these last three services can usually be provided at no charge by subcontractors who will be doing these specific trades).

Please feel free to reach out to me at any time with questions. An answer to most questions can also be found at www.HansenPoleBuildings.com by clicking on SEARCH in the upper right hand corner of any page. Type in a word or two and hit ENTER and up pops relevant articles.

Temporary Client Insanity – Truss Problems?

Temporary Client Insanity – Truss Problems? 

Long ago someone told me during the course of any construction project there comes a time when every client goes absolutely bat-pooh crazy. Personally, even knowing what I know, I am guilty of freaking out and having had a case of temporary client insanity during our own remodel and construction projects for our home.

For hyperventilation they have people breath from a brown paper bag, in my case – perhaps a plastic bag over my head and tied tightly about my neck would have been more appropriate.

Below I will share a client’s concerns. He remained much calmer (totally appreciated) during this process than I might have. He wrote to Justine (Hansen Pole Buildings’ Master of All Things Trusses):

“Justine, one more thing, the top chords of the trusses show 2×8 and the trusses were delivered with a 2×6 top chord, so all the bracing (purlins) will be hanging down. This roof is going to be insulated.

Also, the double trusses are not fastened together and I think I should have more than 1 set of scissored trusses.”

Our Technical Support response:

Building plans are drafted prior to receipt of truss drawings, so trusses as drawn on your plans are merely a depiction of what they may look like. Top and bottom chords as well as internal diagonal webs may be entirely different. The roof slopes will be accurate. Your building’s roof purlins certainly may hang below roof truss top chords, as this has no bearing upon your ability to insulate (please refer to Figure 9-5 of your Hansen Pole Buildings’ Construction Manual). As your roof has a Reflective Radiant Barrier, if you intend to use batt insulation between purlins, make sure to use unfaced insulation without a vapor barrier on underside, otherwise moisture can become trapped between two vapor barriers. This can lead to ineffective damp insulation as well as potential mold and mildew issues.

Per change order #3 your building is to have standard trusses in front 24 feet and a vaulted ceiling in rear 24 feet. With a pair of scissor trusses at 12 feet in front of rear endwall, this allows for the rear 24 feet to be vaulted and front 24 feet to have a level bottom chord.

Truss assembly people are not carpenters – and rarely do truss manufacturing facilities even have nail guns. It also avoids nail wounds from inexperienced or inappropriate use. As an example – back in 1979, I was shopping for a new employer designing and selling trusses. I interviewed with Tilden Truss, near Seattle. They used air guns firing a “T” staple to initially set steel truss plates. Their fabrication shop ceiling was covered with hundreds (if not thousands) of these “T” staples!

You will find it much easier to maneuver single trusses around your building site, than twice as heavy double trusses.

Please feel free to address any building assembly concerns to TechSupport@HansenPoleBuildings.com.

Another crisis averted.

Post Frame Antiperspirant- Ventilation Frustration

This is a sad story I hear all too often from pole (post frame) building owners who have buildings which were not properly designed for future uses, especially when it comes to insulation and ventilation.

Reader JASON in TENINO writes:

Hi Pole Barn Guru,

I recently purchased a new house and it came with a 40×60 shop. This past year I’ve experienced terrible slab sweating every time there is a change in humidity. Now that it’s summer I would like to prevent the sweating from occurring again. What are my best options on a limited budget? I’ve looked into using a penetrating concrete sealer, but I don’t think that addresses the underlying condensation problem.

As far as I can tell the shop has no ventilation of any kind (ridge/gable/soffit). And I’m noticing black mold starting to develop in the insulation below the roof. And I’m not sure if any sort of vapor barrier was placed before the slab was poured.

In the future I would like to insulate and heat the shop, but for now, I’d be happy if I can stop my condensation problems.

Thank you for your help!!!

DEAR JASON:

Yep – you have a problem on your hands. I can pretty much guarantee there is no vapor barrier under your concrete floor, which is a shame someone cheaped out. Vapor barriers are so inexpensive.

Taking care of first things first, let’s get the floor sealed. Here is the information you will need: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/07/concrete-sealer/.

Secondly – get rid of the mold. Mix in the ratio of one cup bleach per gallon of water and use a hand pump sprayer to saturate all moldy surfaces. You can also use a scrub brush to remove the existing mold.

Third – I am going to leap ahead to your future plans, as they will impact your solutions now. I am not a gambling man, but I would put money on your shop’s trusses not having been designed to support the weight of a ceiling. This means if you want to eventually insulate and heat the building, you will have to insulate above the bottom chord of the trusses and up the roof line. On the walls, you can frame in either with a stud wall or with bookshelf girts to create a method to support insulation, with either batts or BIBs (Blow in Blanket) insulation being the most cost efficient and effective for your investment dollars.

Insulating the roof, not so easy, as the only really practical solution will be to use closed cell spray foam between the roof purlins. You will want to consult with an installer to get their opinion as to whether the metal building insulation under the roof steel will have to be removed prior to spraying.

If you are going to spray foam, then you do not want to use a ridge vent, as the foam would cover it.

Here is my best advice (provided you have the space on your property) – use your existing building only for cold storage. Since you do not have vented sidewall overhangs to create an air intake, the only solution for ventilation is to use large vents in each endwall. At a bare minimum, you should have at least 576 square inches on net free flowing vent in each end – located in the top half of the gables. You may need to add power vents, in order to adequately move the moisture out of the building.

When your budget allows for some climate controlled space, construct a new building which is properly designed to be able to be energy efficient.

Here is a short list of features which you should include:

Underslab vapor barrier
Pex tubing in slab for in floor heat
Perimeter slab insulation (rigid foam)
Bookshelf wall girts to create an insulation cavity
Housewrap between wall girts and siding
Vented sidewall overhangs
Ceiling loaded trusses with ceiling joists
Raised heel trusses to allow full insulation depth from wall to wall
Blow in R-45 to 60 of ceiling insulation
Reflective radiant barrier between purlins and roof steel

Good luck and let me know how things turn out!

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

It Is Exactly the Same Building Part I

Well, maybe not exactly the same building.

In April of this year we had a client invest in a brand new 36 foot wide by 60 foot long post frame building kit package with a 16 foot eave height. Three months later, the building has been delivered, and one of the group which ordered the building sends us a quote on “exactly the same building” from a worthy competitor. And, of course, the competitor’s quote is way less expensive!

Now the competitor’s sales person advised the client the quotes were exactly the same, other than he had quoted a 25 psf (pounds per square foot) roof snow load, whereas we provided a 40 psf load, which is 60% more snow carrying capacity!

Turns out there were maybe a couple of other differences as well……

Things we have and they do not:

4/12 roof slope vs. 3/12 The steeper roof slope will look less industrial as well as more readily will shed snow.

C wind exposure vs. B wind exposure (for a detailed explanation of wind exposure please read here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/03/wind-exposure-confusion/).  The benefit of an Exposure C wind load is it makes the building roughly 20% stronger in resisting wind forces, than the B exposure.

12″ enclosed overhangs vs. 18″ open overhangs. Not only are enclosed overhangs far more attractive, they provide ventilation and eliminate the wonderful nesting locations for flying critters which are provided by open overhangs.

12’x14′ residential overhead door vs. 14’x12′ commercial overhead door. If the client wants to get something taller than 12 foot through the other guy’s door, it just isn’t going to fit no matter how big a run one gets at it. Residential overhead doors come with “dog eared” openings and a far more attractive in a residential setting. Here I discuss why 14 foot wide doors are not what they are cracked up to be: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2016/05/14-foot-wide-doors/.

One more entry door. Insulated commercial steel entry doors with steel jambs do not come cheap, especially when they are four foot wide!

Integrated J Channel on windows. So much easier to install than having to cut four pieces of steel trim to fit around a window and have them not leak!

The reflective radiant barrier with pull strip attached adhesive tab on one side vs. Metal Building Insulation (MBI) under the roof steel to minimize condensation challenges. My personal horrors of installing MBI can be visited here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/metal-building-insulation-in-pole-buildings-part-i/.

Lifetime paint warranty on steel vs. 40 year pro-rated. Your post frame building is going to be around for a long time, might as well have the best paint warranty available to minimize the effects of fade and chalk.

Base trim – keeps those creepy crawling critters from entering the building through the high ribs of the wall steel.

Top of wall trims – Even though roll formed steel siding lengths are controlled by a computer, they do vary slightly from panel to panel. The bottom of the panels should be kept at the same height as “stair steps” at the base of the walls is quite noticeable. Easiest way to hide any variants is to place the top edge into a piece of trim which covers any fluctuations.

Jamb trim on Overhead Door– exposed wood overhead door jambs are very popular in some parts of the country, however they do turn grey and then eventually black if not kept painted.  The idea of a steel covered post frame building is to minimize future maintenance. Having to paint raw exposed wood does not meet with this criteria.

Heard enough? No? Then come back tomorrow for Part II. You won’t be disappointed!

Loosening Roof Screws

Help! My Roof Screws are Loosening!

Ask The Pole Barn GuruOur office gets all sorts of phone calls. Besides those clients who are potential investors in new post frame buildings, there are those who have made mistakes (or had builders make them on their behalf) and are looking for fixes.

 

 

One call came in earlier this year to Hansen Pole Buildings’ Designer Rachel, who wrote:

“Guy called wondering about buying insulation from us. He was looking for fiberglass. He asked some suggestions and said he has a little issue in his roof.  He has blanket insulation and said his screws are loosening.  I told him I thought it may be the insulation was too thick and the screw was not tight to the framing.  He understands but is wondering what the suggestion may be.  Wondering if he should replace all the screws?  Told him I thought it would still be an issue but not sure.  Thoughts?”

The caller’s building has a product known as metal building insulation under his roof steel. This insulation is most typically a six foot width roll of thin fiberglass insulation usually bonded to a white vinyl vapor barrier. This insulation is installed over the roof framing with the faced side down (fuzzy side up) then the roof steel is applied on top. Installed properly, with the seams tightly sealed (which rarely occurs) and any rips taped, it does make for a fairly effective condensation control.

It also makes for a lousy insulation solution, as the fiberglass is compressed nearly to nothing as it crosses each roof purlin. I’ve heard of builders selling metal building insulation as thick as six inches and trying to convince (and often getting away with it) clients they will achieve an R-19 insulating value!

All of this fluffy insulation wants to cause the roof steel to bend upwards in between the roof purlins, in some instances beginning to look like the Sta-Puff Marshmellow Man. Between this and the compressed fiberglass at each purlin – stress is laced upon each of the roof screws. If the screws are relatively short in length and/or small in diameter, they will eventually work loose (and cause leaks).

Reflective InsulationThe best solution (although time consuming) would be to remove the roof steel and the metal building insulation, replacing it with a reflective radiant barrier and placing the steel back on the roof using larger diameter and longer screws.

If the building owner is willing to accept the look of what he has, he could attempt a fix just by changing out the screws.

The best solution truly would have been prevention – not having used metal building insulation to begin with.

Pole Building Insulation Once Constructed

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I want to insulate my already constructed pole building that has 10′ center uprights 8.6 in between uprights 16′ sheathed ceiling’s uprights are 5.5″ diameter what’s the best most cost effective way to go about it. MARK IN CAMBRIDGE

DEAR MARK: I’m going to have to do some guessing as the math doesn’t quite work out. If your “uprights” are on ten foot centers then the space between the columns will be 9’6”. If the space between is 8’6” then your columns are nine foot on center.

Ceiling will be easy – as long as you have a thermal break (e.g. reflective radiant barrier or similar) insulation can be blown directly on top of the ceiling. If no thermal break has been provided, then a layer of spray foam insulation should be applied to the underside of the roof steel.

Adequate attic ventilation will need to be provided – read more about it here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2014/02/pole-building-ventilation/

For the walls, the first step – remove the wall steel, one wall at a time. Install a good quality building wrap (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2012/11/house-wrap/).

How the inside is handled will be based upon the materials being used on the inside of the wall. For materials which will not crack (steel liner panels, OSB, or plywood) 2×4 wall girts can be added to the inside of the columns “barn style”.

For sheetrock, things get a little more dicey, as the original design of the building should be checked by a RDP (Registered Design Professional – engineer or architect) to verify the building is stiff enough to keep deflection within allowable limits. Provided the building is adequately stiff, 2×4 or 2×6 wall girts can be added “bookshelf” style (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/09/commercial-girts-what-are-they/).

Once any electrical work has been completed in the walls, unfaced batt or BIBs (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2011/11/bibs/) can be added to the wall assembly. A well-sealed vapor barrier needs to be placed on the inside of the wall insulation https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/07/moisture-barrier/.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Have you ever tried using stands under your posts before you pour. I like the concept brand “X” uses, just seems a little overly complicated.

Thanks. SCOTT IN MACOMB 

DEAR SCOTT: Without knowing who Brand “X” is, hard for me to comment on their methodology. I have not personally tried the use of stands, however I have written about them: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2014/05/one-pour-reinforcement-cage/.

This does seem like a costly method, when it is actually quite simple to just ‘float’ the posts in the holes: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2015/04/floating-poles/

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Can a pole barn be designed for a crawl space instead of a concrete slab? SUSAN IN OPELIKA

DEAR SUSAN: Most certainly. As we are seeing more and more people gravitating to pole barn (post frame) technology for dwellings, we are designing more homes over both crawl spaces and full basements. We design pole buildings for folks with crawl spaces quite frequently. You can read more about pole barn crawl spaces at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/03/crawl-space/. Or, if a crawl space isn’t enough, a basement: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/2013/04/basement/.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have been planning a 24 x 48 x 10 three sided barn as it fits my needs for equipment storage and heat build-up and natural light. I read your blog on 3 sided barn vs. wind. My barn would be enclosed on the long north wall and the short east and west if I left open the east wall would that be enough to alleviate the wind pressure concern.
Thanks. BUDD IN MARIANNA

DEAR BUDD: From reading my article on three sided buildings (https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2014/03/three-sided-building/), you have found out it may not be the most economical design solution.

Ideally, you would be able to construct a four sided building. The three sided design works fine structurally, as long as it is properly designed to resist the added loads. If you leave a long side and a portion of one of the other walls open, then you could reduce the wind pressures. In any case, I would recommend you seek out the services of a firm such as Hansen Pole Buildings – who can arrive at a solution which is structurally sound and best meets your needs.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

Dear Guru: What Type of Insulation?

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Good morning, Mike … I have a question for you.

I’m trying to decide between a 30×40 barn and a 60×40 barn. It would have a gambrel roof with a loft. 16′ wide sliding door in the center of the short ends.

All other things being equal, what is the cost difference between 30×40 and 60×40?

Or is there a size that’s more economical?

Thanks, Mike T. in Kershaw, SC

DEAR MIKE T.: Having to design the loft to support hay weight is not so much of a challenge as it is expensive. For sake of discussion the comparison was done a full loft, however it may be more practical to only have the loft in the center.

There is an economy of scale with pole buildings. For practical purposes, the price per square foot is going to decrease as the building footprint increases (until clearspans become very wide). I’ve also never had a client tell me their new building is “just too big”!

In your particular case, you could double the size of the building, while increasing the investment by only about 2/3.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Renovating our pole building arena is an undertaking.  We were quoted $70k (which included windows to replace the plastic) so we are doing it ourselves. I expect materials to run about $25k in the end.  The company that sold me the metal ceiling panels based out of Kentucky told me that people in his area do it all the time and that the best way to go is with blown insulation, as fiberglass batting is a lot more time consuming to install.  I decided against spray foam because it is toxic to begin with and then they put fire retardants in the mix which is even more toxic.  Plus it is expensive.

What will happen if we don’t have a “thermal break” on the underside of the metal roof? There will be a lot of condensation falling on the blown insulation?  We have a roof vent which I guess is correctly installed because we never have water coming in even during the most violent and heavy of rain storms. Isn’t this vent enough to prevent condensation?

If a herd of animals lived in the building, then I would worry about condensation, but there will be maximum 2-4 live beings in there at one time.   Removing the roof to install a reflective radiant barrier is not an option.  How about covering the underside with “Tyvek” the stuff houses are wrapped in?  Are you saying the blown insulation on the ceiling will not do its job without this thermal break on the roof, or is it the condensation you are concerned about?   What does the reflective radiant barrier need to reflect?  Cold coming from outside, or heat coming from outside?

We have blown insulation in our 14 year old house.  I guess it is newspaper.  It works a charm.  We’re on a hill and it can blow out there and we’re cozy inside.  One can buy cellulose from Lowe’s or Home Depot and they lend you a machine to install it.   I was worried that wind from the roof vent would blow it around.  I was also worried critters would nest in it, although we have covered such access with 1/2″ wire mesh.  Nonetheless, critters are very resourceful about getting into things.  I was worried that if it got wet it would get moldy.  My daughter is very sensitive to mold.  Best thing is it stays dry….and like I said, we never had rain come through that vent, although when the conditions were right, we’d get a bit of snow blown in.  We have a lot of snow now, and no snow in the arena.  So it has to be special conditions. I thought of covering the blown insulation with tarps to protect it from wind or moisture.  Is that a good or bad idea?

BTW, we have no intention of heating the arena.  The goal is to have it warmer in there than outside….hopefully a little above freezing.

I guess for the walls we will use fiberglass.  The plastic panels will be replaced with double glazed “picture” windows (they don’t open) and will run the length of about 2/3 of the arena at 2′ high.

A trainer we met from Maine said he insulated his riding arena and it really helped keep out the cold.

I’m wondering what will happen in summer.  Will it keep out the heat, or trap it?

It’s great communicating with someone who knows what they are talking about.  I’d be happy to compensate you for your expertise.

P.S.  Here’s a fiberglass story.  The owner of a horse boarded at our farm had a plumbing leak in her basement.  The plumber came and fixed the leak and left.  Several weeks later she developed itching sores all over her body.  She woke up one morning with arms so swollen she could not bend them and a face twice the size of normal.  She went to the ER and they told her a dust allergy, so she threw out all drapes and mattresses, etc. and cleaned the carpet and whole place.  However, it didn’t help and she landed in the ER again.  Meanwhile they found out that the plumber had pulled away fiberglass insulation from the broken pipe, and because of the leak it was all wet.  He didn’t remove the wet fiberglass and so mold developed, and with the furnace down there blowing hot air (with the mold) all over the living space it made her VERY sick.  She moved out immediately and had to take a lot of nasty drugs, and she is still not well.  Plus, inhaled fiberglass is a known carcinogen, as you probably know.

A GREAT thing to insulate with is wool.  But who can afford it?  They do make wool “bats” for the purpose though.  CINDY

 DEAR CINDY: Without the thermal break under the roof steel, there will be condensation on the underside of the roof steel, which will result in rain upon the attic insulation. Ventilation alone may cure some, but not all of the condensation problems.

The major source of the warm moist air rising is the ground under your building (evapotranspiration). According to www.ScienceDirect.com the average value of the moisture evaporation with uncovered ground is 0.33 to 0.53 gallons per hour per square foot. For a fairly typical 60 by 120 foot riding arena, this could be between 57 and 90 thousand gallons per day!!

Housewraps like Tyvek are not vapor barriers – they are designed to allow moisture to pass through.

Reflective radiant barriers just happens to be a very cost effective thermal break. The aluminum facing on the exterior reflects radiant heat in the summer, keeping the building cooler.

Insulating your building will keep it cooler in the summer, there is no question there. As to the effectiveness for keeping things warmer inside, without a heat source the air inside will be at or near the temperature on the outside.

And thank you very kindly for your offer of compensation. I do my best to provide quality information for the good of the industry as a whole. If you feel I have been of service, please feel free to share the link to this blog with others.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

Dear Guru: Why Vapor Barrier?

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I constructed a pole building with the help of Iowa based Amish group. They put up the main structure including metal roof. Due to city codes, I enclosed the 40x60x12 structure using 1/2 osb, house wrap and then vinyl siding. I want to use paper faced 4x8x4″ Styrofoam sheets on the walls, and roll insulation for the ceiling. My question is, do I use a vapor barrier on the walls after putting in the Styrofoam or none at all? And for the ceiling I would assume I would attach a vapor barrier to the bottom side of the trusses and lay the R-25 unfaced insulation on top of that. I have ridge vent and soffit vents. Thanks for your help! Curt in Center Point, IA DEAR CURT: For a properly performing system, your building should have a vapor barrier on the inside of all walls. The paper facing on the Styrofoam™ panels should be a vapor barrier. In order to perform properly, you need to make sure all edges and joints are tightly sealed, to prevent moisture from entering the wall cavity.

A vapor barrier should NOT be placed across the bottom of the roof trusses. If your building has steel roofing, I am hoping some sort of thermal break (like a reflective radiant barrier or similar) has been installed between the roof purlins and the roof steel, otherwise you are in for a plethora of problems. Warm moist air from your building needs to be able to pass through the ceiling and into the non-conditioned dead attic space, where it can be properly vented out of the ridge vent. You also should consider a greater R value in the attic. According to the North American Insulation Manufacturers Association https://www.naima.org/insulation-knowledge-base/residential-home-insulation/how-much-insulation-should-be-installed.html a minimum of R-38 should be installed in Iowa.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

Dear Pole Barn Guru: We had hail damage to a post frame office building last Summer. Several months prior to the storm we had the side walls spray foam insulated (closed cell) and then framed and dry-walled. We have finally settled up with the insurance company and are ready to “re-skin” the building. The spray foam insulation was a significant expense and if we take off the metal siding the insulation will come off too. Here is my question: Can we simply install another layer of 29 gauge metal siding over the existing siding? Or can we fur out and install a different type of siding? Your input would be greatly appreciated!   KEN in Ft. Collins, CO

DEAR KEN: Although hail damage to steel siding and roofing is unusual, you have now found the downside to spray foam insulation applied to the inside face of it. If you place furring strips on the outside of the existing siding, you are most likely going to end up with the siding on the eave sides extending past the typical steel roof overhangs provided with most pole buildings. Plus, anything other than pre-painted steel siding is likely to come along with a lifetime of having to maintain it. In all probability, your best solution may very well be to install siding of the exact same profile over the existing steel. Screws will need to removed from each panel as you work your way down the wall, and replaced with screws of a larger diameter, as well as longer – in order to properly hold both layers of siding in place. With some patience, the results should turn out satisfactory

Creating a Thermal Break

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Have recently purchased a home with an existing pole building on it. The pole building is in nice shape but we will be replacing the roof panels. My question is about moisture control. The existing roof framing is like a typical house frame roof, with trusses on 24″ centers and a roof deck of 5/8 osb. Would a synthetic roof felt be the proper choice before installing the new roof panels or would you recommend something different? I see a lot of references to AV1 as a thermal break but I believe the roof deck would accomplish this. Any help would be appreciated.

Thanks again. CORN FARMER in Burr Oak, MI

DEAR CORN FARMER: Thank you very much for being a loyal reader. Synthetic roofing felt should work just fine for your application, as the roof sheathing will provide the thermal break necessary to prevent condensation issues. One concern – if the current OSB is installed directly to the top chord of the roof trusses, 2×4 purlins will need to be placed on top of the sheathing in order to give the roofing screws something to “bite” into (OSB will not adequately hold screws). The 2x4s can be placed flat wise and should be nailed through the sheathing into the top chord of each truss with two 16d galvanized common nails (even better if the nails are ring shank to aid in preventing withdrawal). We had a similar circumstance when re-roofing my wife’s home a few years ago, and we opted to use A1V reflective radiant barrier draped loosely over the purlins, in order to more effectively utilize the reflective coating on the outer face of the insulation to assist against heat gain in the summer.

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Is it possible to build a pole structure into a moderate hillside? By way of either setting extra poles and laying 4×4 or 6×6 timbers horizontally to retain the soil against the structure and waterproofing the timbers and incorporating adequate drainage. I really don’t want to invest in building a separate retaining wall as this would create a “gap” between the wall and pole structure to collect debris and snow in the winter. I’ve received poured wall estimates in the range of $30,000-$44,000 just for a foundation making that route unfeasible. My plans are for a 40×60-64×14 structure with attic trusses. Any input you may have is greatly appreciated.

Brett in Dewitt, MI

DEAR BRETT: Yes, it is possible to building a pole structure into a moderate hillside. The easy way – build a concrete or ICF (Insulating Concrete Forms) foundation wall to support areas which require a “cut” into the hillside and mount the building to the top of the wall by means of brackets. (Read about bracket mounting here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/09/concrete-brackets-2/)

I am not expert on concrete foundation work, but the estimates you are seeing appear to be more than sufficient to excavate, form and pour an entire full basement along with a concrete slab in the bottom and have money left over.

(To get an idea of foundation costs read: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/10/buildings-why-not-stick-frame-construction/)

I actually have personal experience with a situation probably far more dramatic than yours, which you can read about at: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/02/grade-change/

Mike the Pole Barn Guru

Pole Barn Communication

My lovely bride and I have been married for heading on 15 years. To some, this may seem like a lot, to my grandparents and great-grandparents (who were together for 50 years and more) – hardly a drop in the bucket.

Phone CommunicationIn most relationships, success (or lack thereof) is created by communication. Lots of clear, concise dialogue makes for a happy marriage (whether a marriage of two partners in matrimony, or between client and pole barn provider). Don’t talk so much, or don’t pay attention to what the other party is saying, and a rocky road can result.

This morning I received some clear communication from a client:

“Purchased a 40 x 60 pole building from your co in 2005. Most of the building is fine. I contacted the company approximately 2-3 years ago with two problems; 1. The insulation has gone south and is falling from the roof and secondly, the paint on the south east of building has faded from green to almost a grayish white. I contacted your company and was told (after a couple of weeks or more) that you would sell me more insulation at your cost and I could put it in. As for the roof your company said that a representative from the manufacturer would be in contact so as to examine the roof. That was 2-3 years ago and nobody has contacted me or followed through on these problems. As you know the computer is a very good tool at times like this, and I assure you I intend to use it to relay my story on the net covering pole barns and buildings. I feel this will stop potential customers from dealing with such problems with your company. I have since taken pictures that I fully intend to post on the internet.  I regret to take this action and will wait 7 days for your response before proceeding. Any suggestions?”

Well, my first suggestion would be we do not have to be threatened to get action. In fact, we believe so much in the buildings we provide, we will put the information out ourselves!  Any client who writes in order to have a problem solved, we appreciate kind, considerate and “moving forward” efforts.  We most definitely will do everything we can to see their issue is solved in a timely manner.

Go do in internet search for “pole barn (or pole building) problems (or horror stories)”. You will find a few of them – and in regards to a select few providers or builders – lots of them. To the best of our knowledge, there is not a single derogatory posting about Hansen Pole Buildings anywhere on the internet. After providing thousands of pole building kit packages since 2002, this says something about the integrity of our company and the quality of our products.

Getting back on track…..

The original building kit package included reflective roof insulation manufactured by a Canadian company which is no longer in business (and was closed prior to the client’s notification of an apparent issue). Upon doing some research, the best guesses as to why the originally supplied insulation was delaminating (the inside white vinyl facing was flaking off) was due to either the adhesives used in fabrication by the manufacturer, or improper storage of the product onsite by the purchaser.

Having used this manufacturer’s product in thousands of buildings, we had only ever received a handful of concerns with this issue. As the client reports, we did (and still would) offer to supply replacement insulation manufactured by our current supplier (which is produced using a better adhesive).

Sidebar: the originally provided and installed insulation still is working as an effective condensation control, it just flakes off pieces of the white vinyl.

The steel for this client’s building was produced by Fabral® and is their MP-Panel™, which comes with a 25-Year limited paint warranty. From the warranty at www.Fabral.com:

“Fade or change in color in excess of five (5) units of color difference (“NEBS” units) for vertical siding panels ad seven (7) units of color difference (“NBS” units) roof panels for a period of ten (10) years when measured in accordance with the standard procedure specified in ASTM D-224 (latest) paragraph 6.3, on a washed test area.

NOTE: Most coated surfaces, when exposed to the sun, will fade to some degree over a period of time. Five NEBS units is a noticeable, but not usually objectionable, degree of color change. Colors may also darken or change hue rather than fade, particularly on exposure in polluted environments. The NBS units are intended to apply to color change in either direction in comparison with the original or unexposed color. It is understood that fading or color change may not be in uniform if the surfaces are not equally exposed to the sun and elements.”

Under the terms of the warranty, the building owner was to have notified Fabral® “in writing” within 30 days after the discovery of the defect. Although the building owner did not provide Fabral® with proper notice, one of their representatives had been to the building, shortly after the initial contact was made (we keep notes in a client’s file on every inquiry of this sort). It is possible the client does not recall this visit, or the resulting communication from Fabral®, as it was determined then, the fade rate of the paint was within the allowable limitations.

I’ve written before about paint fade: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2014/04/paint-fade/

Morals of the story: when offered a solution by a supplier, either accept it, or offer a counter offer – don’t just stew on it or rehash it; as often as possible send and receive important communications in writing; and when ordering painted steel in which fade rate is critical – invest in the best available paint system, Kynar.

For more reading about Kynar®: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2014/05/kynar/

Dear Pole Barn Guru: Do I Need Vapor Barrier?

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday or Saturday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Builder just built a pole barn, 36x53x11.  Great looking.  I was planning on finishing the ceiling and insulating it.  Because of this he left out the vapor barrier, said you don’t need that If you are insulating the ceiling?

True? PERPLEXED IN PENNSYLVANIA

 DEAR PERPLEXED: I will assume you have a steel roof. If so, your builder has done you a huge disservice by not using a vapor barrier. Why builders so often do this is beyond my comprehension.

In all probability you are going to experience condensation problems. Before you get the ceiling in, you are going to have dripping from the underside of the roof steel onto the floor, usually at every purlin.  Once the ceiling is installed, prepare for damp insulation (reducing its efficiency), as well as mold forming within the attic space. Not a pretty sight and eventually the decay could cause failures in the roof members.

From where you are at now your best, albeit not inexpensive, solution is going to be to spray foam the underside of the roof steel. You also need to provide adequate ventilation to the attic space you will be creating. If you have enclosed vented soffits on each sidewall and a vented ridge it should prove adequate. If neither of these are present, you can add gable vents. Each end would need a minimum of 3.18 square feet on net free area, with the vent placed in the upper one-half of the attic.
DEAR POLE BARN GURU:Will roof trussing work on 6 foot center for a 30 by 60 hay barn with 2 by 4 purlins? VASCILLATING IN VIRGINIA                 

DEAR VASCILLATING: Trusses – certainly they will work spaced one every six feet, however unless you are willing to place sidewall columns every six feet, it will necessitate having headers (truss carriers) between the columns. On the purlins, depending upon your snow load and grade of available lumber, you might need to place the purlins on edge. It is very probably your idea is not the most cost effective design solution. I would encourage you to investigate sidewall columns placed every 12 feet, with double trusses at each interior column and 2×6 purlins or larger joist hung on edge between the trusses. This is going to be the best design solution structurally and is almost always the most cost effective.

Dear Pole Barn Guru: How Much is Truss Weight??

New!  The Pole Barn Guru’s mailbox is overflowing with questions.  Due to high demand, he is answering questions on Saturdays as well as Mondays.

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday or Saturday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

                                             

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I’m an engineering student doing a research about sustainable buildings, can you tell me the approximate 20′ metal truss weight and 24′ wood truss weight?

Please I need the answer urgently. CALCULATING IN KALAMAZOO

 

DEAR CALCULATING: Nice to have engineering students reading this column!

Having been given no parameters for load carrying capacity, truss spacing or roof slope, leaves me just winging out an answer.

For wood trusses with a total load of around 180 pounds per lineal foot (30 pounds per square foot spaced one at six foot or two at 12 feet), a single 24 foot span 4/12 slope truss weight should be about 125 pounds.

I’ve never dealt with steel trusses, however I was able to find several formulas, as well as a table for calculating the steel truss weight, W being weight per horizontal square foot, S = span in feet, P = capacity of truss in pounds per horizontal square foot, and A the distance center to center of trusses in feet:

Charles Evan Fowler, P. E., for Fink trusses:

W = .06S + .6 for heavy loads; W= .04S + .4 for light loads.

H. G. Tyrrell, P. E.:

W = .05S+ distance center to center.

C. W. Bryan, P. E.:

W = .04S + 4.

M. S. Ketchum. P. E.:

+ For scissors trusses increase one-third.

Weight Per Square Foot Of Roof Surface For Steel Trusses

6/12 Slope 4/12 Slope 3/12 Slope
Up to 40 ft. 5.25 6.3 6.8 7.6
50 ft. 5.75 6.6 7.2 8.0
60 ft. 6.75 8.0 8.6 9.6
70 ft. 7.25 8.5 9.2 10.2
80 ft. 7.75 9.0 9.7 10.8
100 ft. 8.5 10.0 10.8 12.0
120 ft. 9.5 11.0 12.0 13.2
140 ft. 10.0 11.6 12.6 14.0

As you can see – lots of opinions on the steel truss (as are probably huge variants in their configuration).

DEAR POLE BARN GURU:We’ve just had a 40’x60′ steel pole barn constructed (in the woods) for storing classic cars. We had the builder install and frame fiberglass insulation in. We’re installing OSB wall panels ourselves. Wondering if we should cover the fiberglass with ‘Visqueen’ for vapor barrier or would we be better served by installing foil faced OSB panels?

Thanks CONCERNED IN KOKOMO

DEAR CONCERNED: Most often fiberglass batt insulation which is used in walls has a paper (or “kraft”) facing on the inside, which when properly installed serves as the vapor barrier. If unfaced batts were used, then a clear plastic vapor barrier should be installed on the inside face. Foil faced OSB panels are designed to be placed below roofing to assist in keeping attics cooler in warm climates, it is not designed to be or replace vapor barriers in walls.

 

 

Dear Pole Barn Guru: What is the Proper Wind Shear Bracing?

New!  The Pole Barn Guru’s mailbox is overflowing with questions.  Due to high demand, he is answering questions on Saturdays as well as Mondays.

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday or Saturday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

Dear Pole Barn Guru: What is the proper wind sheer bracing for a 60’W x 80’L by 20’H monitor pole barn with a 20′ center aisle and a second story? The raised center portion has 20 foot walls, then another 6 feet to the center at the ridge.

The 2 sheds on either side are 10′ at the edge and intersect the center at about 15′. The entire structure is made of poles on 20′ centers, Lvl beams and ladder trusses for floor and trussed roofs. It is unprotected from the wind. We are in central Texas. TEETERING IN TEXAS

DEAR TEETERING: This is why it is such an excellent idea to order complete pole building packages from a company who can run all of these calculations accurately in advance. Then buildings are designed to resist the proper loads, including wind shear, without having to search for solutions in the middle of the game.

Provided all of the columns are adequately sized and embedded …..

Steel roofing should be 3′ width, minimum 29 gauge, with high ribs every 9″, attached to 2x purlins on edge spaced no more than 28″ o.c. Roofing should attach to purlins with #12 x 1-1/2″ diaphragm screws at 9″ o.c. at each purlin. At eave and top edges of panels place screws on each side of every high rib.

Provided you attach the endwall steel the same as the roof steel, you should be able to have up to 19 lineal feet of openings on each endwall without further reinforcement.

All of this should be reviewed by a Registered Design Professional (RDP – engineer or architect) for structural adequacy.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU:  Is it possible to get a quote to have it assembled? MINDFUL IN MORRIS

DEAR MORRIS: We are not contractors, however fair market value for labor is typically about 50% of materials costs.

I recommend placing an ad on Craigslist under “labor gigs” such as:

Contractor needed to assemble pole building kit package on my clear level site in Morris County. 24’x40’x14′ includes 12″ overhangs, a 12’x12′ overhead door, entry door and wainscot. I will provide all materials except for nail gun nails. Willing to pay $4000-5000 depending upon experience and references.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a metal building constructed of 2×4 square tubing and 4×4 metal posts. 3″ × 1.5″ c purlin is welded with the c side down spanning across my 2×4 square tubing roof beams. I have a metal roof screwed to the c purlin. The building wraps around an existing building and looks like an L from a top view and has a 2 on 12 shed roof with a hip. The building is “stand alone” and attached to the other structure only with a side wall transition piece. The metal roof slides under the eve of the other structure with the side wall transition on top. I also used the vented enclosure under the sidewall transition for ventilation. I also have a ridge vent at the hip with the vented enclosure under the hip cap. I have a 12″ soffit around the outside perimeter of the metal structure with soffit vents every 5 ft. I have a 4 ft cedar picket half wall around the outside perimeter with the remaining height of the wall in screens….basically a screened in party room but I plan on switching out the screens for heavy plastic sheeting in the winter. I have a hot tub inside and I want to insulate the roof and install a ceiling. 1st question: do I have to install a vapor barrier IF I am using 3/8 marine plywood for the ceiling and the attic side of the sheathing is covered in heavy vinyl….sheathing was once election signs. I am attaching the ceiling directly to the bottom of the 2×4 roof beams following the slope of the 2 on 12 pitch.

2nd question…..because I only have the 4″ depth of the 2×4 sq tubing + 1.5″ depth of the c purlin = 5.5″ total for insulation AND vent space, how would you insulate? Spray foam is too expensive for me. I want to reduce the radiant heat in the summer and I am concerned with the humidity from the hot tub especially in the winter. Any help would be greatly appreciated. TOASTY IN TEXAS

DEAR TOASTY: My guess is you are going to be creating an inadequately ventilated dead attic space. You need to have 1/150th of the “foot print” of your space, as ventilation, equally divided between the eaves and the ridge. In your case, you have no ability to adequately vent the high side of your roof, as it abuts another building.

Even though the best solution might well be to tear everything down and construct a new building, chances are you would not look favorably financially upon it as the end all.

Probably your best bet is to install an A1V reflective radiant barrier beneath the roof purlins (https://www.buyreflectiveinsulation.com) with the reflective side up. Make sure every seam is tightly sealed. This should help reduce the thermal gain in the summer. If you are going to create a dead attic space between a ceiling and the reflective radiant barrier – powered attic vents in each end could be a good investment.

As for humidity from your hot tub, install air inlet vents near the floor and exhaust vents near the ceiling line. You may also need to have one or more powered vents in the walls of this area.

Dear Guru: Can I Add to My Pole Barn in the Future?

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’m very interested in doing business with you, I just have a few questions. I originally asked for a quote of a pole barn of 200×50 I believe it was, my question is, can your buildings be added on to? Would we be able to start with something much smaller and then add on to the barn as we go? NOW IN NEW JERSEY

DEAR NOW: Yes, our buildings can be added on to. I would recommend the initial design be done with the idea of what the ultimate finished goal will be for size. Oftentimes, original structures are not structurally set up for the eventual expansion, which keeps the initial price low, but results in headaches and costs later, which could have been avoided with proper planning. A gabled roof will be the easiest roof style to work with when it comes to future expansion.

We have several customers who have done just as you suggest, adding on to one or both ends as they expand. Get the width you ultimately want, then adding length is much easier You can remove endwall siding, add on additional bays, and put the endwall siding back on. You may have to purchase more trims, but if steel siding, is easily reused for the addition.

And I always recommend – build as much building as you have space for and can afford economically, as whatever size you pick, it will never be large enough.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I’ve read ALL of your blogs!  Back to 2010. And love them. I write similar stuff in my business.

The question is do you have, or can you get, closures similar to ridge vent, but as a bottom closure to be used at the eave of a building without overhangs? BREEZY

DEAR BREEZY: Thank you for your dedicated readership and …good question! There is not such a beast, and even if there was, the net ventilation would be tiny – not enough to yield any positive results, as the only area which could have a vent would be just at the high ribs. The correct way to vent would really be with enclosed vented overhangs.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU:I have an existing pole building with badly deteriorating insulation and vapor barrier for the roof.

I plan to pull all of the old insulation and vapor barrier out to replace it.  I’d like to use the reflective radiant barrier / vapor barrier you recommend for new construction.  I’m considering pulling the metal roofing off to do it right so I don’t have to do it again later.

Do you recommend installing the reflective radiant barrier / vapor barrier between the metal roofing and purlins or between the purlins and roof trusses? DETERIORATING IN DELAWARE

DEAR DETERIORATING:
Place the reflective radiant barrier over the purlins and directly under the roof steel. You will need to use larger diameter, longer screws to reattach the roof steel.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU:Where can I buy Owens Corning Foamular Fanfold foam 1/4″ thick? A lot of my fellow RC plane hobbyists are having a hard time finding this stuff. Thanks in advance. FLYING IN FREMONT                          DEAR FLYING: Visit the Contractor Desk of any The Home Depot®. If it is not in stock, it can be ordered in within a matter of just a few days.

Dear Guru: What Steps Should I Take to Add Insulation To My Pole Barn?

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: My question concerns insulation and ventilation. I have an existing 30 x 50 pole barn. It is split in half lengthwise, with one half enclosed and the other half open on one side. I am wanting to frame and enclose the open wall and make the building into a woodworking shop. I would primarily use this shop during the warmer months, but would like to be able to work in there in the wintertime on occasion. I am planning to re-tin the entire building including the roof. The current enclosed portion has trusses that span roughly 15 feet from wall to wall with a 12/3 pitch. The area that I am wanting to enclose is “lean to” construction with 2 x 10 rafters that span from the truss beams of the already enclosed area to a double 2 x 12 beam (approximately 15 feet). My building does not have soffit ventilation or ridge ventilation. From what I have learned from your blog, I am planning to add reflective barrier between the purlins and metal roof when it is replaced. I also know that my trusses are most likely not designed to bear the weight of a ceiling and insulation. I would like to either insulate the entire building or at least the newly enclosed area and keep the other as cold storage. I would like to know what options I have to make either of these a reality and what steps to take as far as insulation and vapor barrier is concerned? I have included my e-mail and I tried to include photos but could not attach them. Please respond with your e-mail and I will send the photos right away and any additional information you might need. Thanks so much! NO CRISIS IN KANSAS

 DEAR KANSAS: We did figure out how to get photos from your hands to our eyes, thank you very much for your efforts.

After seeing the photos, my response was, Rather than throwing a lot of dollars into your existing building, have you considered just leaving it as is for cold storage, and putting up a new woodworking shop?”

 I’ve written in the past about renovation and remodel work on pole buildings:

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/01/pole-barn-remodel/

https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2013/05/renovating-a-pole-barn/

A little more input from this very kind gentlemen helped: “I was trying to use my existing building because it already has concrete floors and 200 amp electrical service.”

And back from me: “Trying to re-purpose and existing building is rarely the most economical or practical solution. Especially if it involves the cost of residing and reroofing (since these two items typically represent about 50% of the cost of the building). In looking at the photos, the way the concrete is poured leads me to believe you are going to have water coming in under the outside building wall.”

What clinched me having to help this guy out was: “The existing barn may be my only option due to the wife wanting its appearance improved regardless!”

If mama ain’t happy, ain’t no body happy!

As I do not know the version of the Building Code (if any) your building was constructed under, nor the applicable wind and snow loads, I can only make broad structural recommendations. In most permit issuing jurisdictions, they work you propose to do does require a building permit to be acquired. I’d recommend you confirm yes or no.

In the end, it would be an excellent idea to contract with a registered design professional RDP (engineer or architect) to confirm structural integrity of the existing building, as well as to appropriately size new members being added, as well as their connections.

Starting with the basics, remove all of the siding and roofing. Where an exterior wall will have a climate controlled area opposite, remove all girts. Install new wall girts at 24 inches on center, of a size large enough to be flush on the outside of the walls with existing pressure treated splash planks, etc. With 6×6 columns, it will take 2×8 girts placed like bookshelves. In order to keep wall screw lines even, you may want to opt to swap out the girts universally (it also allows the future ability to insulate other portions of the building at a later date).

As you will be down to bare framing, I would highly recommend adding enclosed vented overhangs on all four sides of the building. This will allow for an air intake, which is going to be essential to the overall system performance during steps outlined below.

Before installing new roof steel, install the reflective radiant barrier on top of the roof purlins. I recommend the A1V product from www.buyreflectiveinsulation.com, as it has tabs with adhesive pull strips to seal each piece to the prior one. Use high quality vented ridge closures under the ridge cap, to provide an air exhaust.

Wrap the building walls with a high quality building wrap.

Read more here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/11/house-wrap/

In areas you want to climate control, install a 2x beam (or header) to the inside face of the columns. From beam to beam ceiling joists can be placed every two feet to support gypsum wallboard.

With the newly created wall cavities, you can use batt insulation or BIBs. For the ceiling, I’d suggest blowing in insulation, once the ceiling has been drywalled.

Assuming you move forward with this, I am hoping you won’t mind sharing progress photos.

When it is all done, it should look and function just like a new building.

Dear Guru: How Can I Add a Vapor Barrier Now?

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I have a question about insulating my pole barn. I recently had a 32′ x 40′ x 12′ tall building put up by a local builder. I’m doing all the finishing work including electrical. I’m using steel liner panel for the walls and ceiling. The question is that I have already put up the walls and I did NOT put any vapor barrier up first. My plan was/is to blow in fiberglass in the walls but now I’m worried about mold growth and or moisture problems in the walls. I’m in SW Michigan and plan to heat the building. So the question is…Is there any safe way to insulate without taking all the metal down? I could probably drop sheets of Tyvek or plastic down the inside of the wall and then just blow the insulation in??  MEANDERING IN MICHIGAN

 

DEAR MEANDERING: First of all, Tyvek or other housewraps are not vapor barriers. For more information on housewraps see: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2012/11/house-wrap/

Second, unless you are going to use BIBS insulation, blowing fiberglass into a wall cavity is not probably the best solution, as in time, the insulation will settle. Read more about BIBS here: https://www.hansenpolebuildings.com/blog/2011/11/bibs/

Assuming you have not yet installed the interior steel liner panels, the walls can be insulated with your choice of a variety of products, then place a vapor barrier on the inside and cover with the liner panels. 

 If you’ve already put up the interior steel liners, I’d strongly advise you carefully take them off, and then follow my directions above.  You will be far happier with the result, as mold is not a pretty problem to deal with.  And yes, with steel, you need a vapor barrier.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I HAVE A HANSEN POLE BARN 30′ X 54′. IM ADD A SHED ROOF TO IT. IM HAVING A HARD TIME FIND THE RIGHT METAL FLASHING. TO CONNENT THE SHED ROOF TO THE SIDE WALL. THANK YOU. DETERMINED DAN

DEAR DETERMINED: We can provide any materials needed to add onto a Hansen Pole Building. A concern of ours is people who add onto their buildings, without a proper structural design analysis being performed. In the case of original buildings which were designed by an engineer, adding on to it, without engineering, will absolve the engineer of any liability from the original design. Many building failures are the result of inadequately design additions to existing buildings, some of which cause undue stresses and loads to be imparted upon the existing structure.  I encourage you to call our home office and discuss adding this shed roof, along with getting the right materials to make it water tight.

Should a Treated Post Look Treated all the Way Through?

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

 

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am currently constructing a pole building. I’ve drilled holes through the columns for rebar hairpins to be inserted to tie the columns into the concrete floor. It appears the post isn’t treated all of the way through. What can I do? DRILLING DOUG

DEAR DRILLING: Pressure Preservative Treated lumber does not have to be treated all the way through to be properly treated. As long as the column is tagged as being UC-4B, the column is adequately treated for structural in ground use.

For rebar hairpin holes, after properly marking on every treated post, drill each one using a 5/8” bit. Galvanized re-bar is recommended. If not available, coat rebar penetrating column with an asphalt emulsion, or similar, to isolate re-bar from the pressure treated post. NOTE: #4 re-bar is ½” diameter. Cut re-bars into 5’ long segments and insert one through each column, centering the five foot length in hole. Bend rebar legs, by hand, to a 45 degree angle with skirt boards. Seal rebar, into bored holes, at each column edge with silicone caulking.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I read your articles on both reflective heat barriers and vapor barriers.  It seems they conflict somewhat in that for the vapor barrier article you suggest putting the vapor barrier between the purlin and the metal roof, but for a heat barrier you recommend a gap between the roof and heat barrier.  So how do I combine the two?  Would putting a double aluminum sided closed cell barrier like Prodex on the inside of the purlins (creating a substantial gap from the roof) work best?  Thanks in advance for your expertise. TRYING IN TENNESSEE

DEAR TRYING: Thank you very much for reading my articles. As long as the reflective radiant barrier is totally sealed, it should work quite well for both insulation and condensation control.

Dear Guru: What is the Highest Wind Speed You Design For?

Welcome to Ask the Pole Barn Guru – where you can ask questions about building topics, with answers posted on Mondays.  With many questions to answer, please be patient to watch for yours to come up on a future Monday segment.  If you want a quick answer, please be sure to answer with a “reply-able” email address.

Email all questions to: PoleBarnGuru@HansenPoleBuildings.com

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: Hello, I am interested in this construction method, but I was wondering what is the maximum wind load that your buildings can take? Thank you for your time. WHISTLING IN THE WIND                                  

DEAR WHISTLING: We’ve designed pole buildings resist wind speeds up to 170 miles per hour. For all practical purposes, we could design for any wind speed and exposure condition desired.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: What is the mil thickness of plastic to lay down in a

pole barn before the rock for moisture protection and do you carry the

product? MOIST IN MISSOURI

DEAR MOIST: If you are not intending to pour a concrete floor, then a black visqueen of at least 6 mil thickness should be used. For use under a concrete slab, the best product would be A2V insulation, which is available for direct purchase at:

www.buyreflectiveinsulation.com

There is an insulation calculator on the website to help you figure out how many rolls to purchase.

DEAR POLE BARN GURU: I am planning on constructing a 48’ x 48’ roof only pole barn. I would like to put a couple bags of sakcrete in the bottom of hole and then pour the rest when I pour the pad.  I am planning on putting rebar down into both sakcrete and have it stick up so it will connect to the other concrete.  Will this be ok?  If not, recommendations? STUCK ON SAKCRETE

DEAR STUCK: Sakcrete can be a great and practical solution to many problems, however this application is not any of those.

To begin with, a couple of bags of sakcrete will not provide an adequate footing under the columns. With your loading conditions, a 30 inch diameter by eight inch thick footing pad would be required. It would take eight 90 pound bags of sakcrete to pour each footing. It may not be practical to haul home almost four tons of sakcrete.

Even if you do pour adequate footings, you are quickly going to find out how challenging it is to work on a roof only structure, where the columns are not stabilized. Even with the columns braced in all four directions (which is going to require investing in a lot of extra material), there is going to be a significant amount of movement in the columns, as the roof system is framed and roofing installed.

Why fight it?

My recommendation would be to just concrete backfill the columns and footings monolithically in a single pour. It will take about nine yards of redi-mix, so it isn’t like there is going to be some big savings by waiting to pour the balance of the holes with the floor.

Insulation: When the Fold Hits the Fan

Greg, one of my blog readers, posted a comment online in regards to using ¼” foam fanfold insulation between roof purlins and roof steel. While I have seen this used, I have never done it myself, so I felt it was due time to get on my research tennies and find out more.

Fanfold InsulationFanfold insulation is an extruded polystyrene foam insulation which is designed to be applied to the exterior walls of homes, between sheathing (or pre-existing sidings) and usually vinyl siding. Its purpose is to provide thermal protection and to form a second barrier between the elements and the framing. When used over existing sidings, it provides a flat nailing surface for quick siding installation.

Products such as Owens Corning Foamular® are typically used in traditional low slope commercial roof applications where the insulation is placed below the roof membrane.

Class A (the best) fire resistance rating is based on ASTM E108 testing of fire spread, and in the case of wood decks, penetration, on the top side of roofs. Ratings are based on complete assembly performance and depend on variables such as deck type, membrane type and the slope of the roof. Commonly extruded polystyrene insulation products have some type of cover placed over them before the roofing membrane is installed. Cover materials include board products like gypsum or high density wood fiber. Or, depending on the type of membrane, a slip sheet may be used.

Polystyrene happens to be an environmental nightmare, as it is nearly non-biodegradable and is seldom recycled. It ignites easily and when it does it releases some nasty gases. These include Benzene, a highly carcinogenic substance, and styrene which is readily absorbed through the skin, respiratory system and gastrointestinal tract. Exposure can cause deep unconsciousness and death. The vapor can damage the eyes and mucous membranes. Styrene gas releases a great deal of soot when polystyrene foam is burned. The soot is dangerous to the respiratory system when inhaled.

Out of curiosity, I looked into the cost of fanfold insulation. A major home improvement (big box) store, retails 200 sft (square foot) bundles for $33.25 before sales tax. This works out to being just under 17 cents per square foot. In the product description, it states it is perforated to allow excess moisture to escape, and lists the R value as being one.

In order to qualify as a residential vapor retarder, a product must have a water vapor perm rating of 1.0 or lower (the lower the number the stronger the vapor retarder).  Foamular® is rated at 1.1 perm, based upon a one inch thickness. The product does NOT qualify as an effective vapor retarder.

If Foamular® is relied upon to create an air and/or moisture barrier, then joints should be sealed. However, due to penetrations and other practical considerations, it is often more efficient to install air/moisture barrier layers elsewhere in the assembly rather than try to seal the joints.

My summation – fanfold foam should not be used between roof purlins and roof steel in an attempt to control condensation. Even with sealed joints, it does not have a perm rating adequate for its intended use. If used, in order to prevent a plethora of problems in the event of fire, a layer of fire resistive material such as 5/8” type X drywall should be placed over the purlins first – which creates a potential for an entirely new set of issues due to lack of shear strength of materials.

For a cost effective vapor barrier system, look to using a reflective radiant barrier which has been manufactured with a tab on one long edge which has a PSA (pull strip attached) covering an adhesive. It’s simple, cost effective, and performs well if installed per instructions.

Today In: Ask the Pole Barn Guru

I recently got this email, and as The Pole Barn Guru, I am happy to respond to building questions which are not from Hansen Building clients, either prior or future.

 

Hello 

I live in Indiana.

I have a pole barn garage. I didn’t build it. It was built when I got the house. It has a metal drop ceiling. I am looking to insulate it. It will only be heated when I am working on stuff in the winter and not all the time. It will not be conditioned in the summer. I am not sure what the best way to insulate above the drop ceiling. Can I use blow in insulation? If I go this route do I need to put plastic down on top of the metal first then blow it in? I am using 1 inch Styrofoam board in the walls board since I can put it directly against the metal and moisture won’t affect it. I will eventually cover it with plywood. What should I do for the drop ceiling?”

The initial step is to find out what the load capacity of the trusses is. Very few pole buildings have trusses which are designed to support the weight of a ceiling and insulation. You should be looking for a minimum bottom chord dead load of five psf (pounds per square foot). If the prior owner did not provide you with the information about the building, the design loads are supposed to be stamped on the trusses.

Assuming the trusses can support the load, an insulated vapor barrier must be placed beneath any roof steel. If the building was not originally constructed with one, reflective radiant barrier (aluminum side up/white face down) can be added to the underside of the roof purlins. It is essential to have all seams tightly sealed. See www.buyreflectiveinsulation.com to calculate needed quantity and price.

Ventilation must be provided for, as you have a dead attic space. Hopefully the eaves have enclosed vented soffits – to provide an air intake. Along with this – a vented ridge is required, in order to give an outlet.

Finally, once all the above have been taken care of, insulation can be blown in directly above the steel ceiling liner panels. You do not want to have a vapor barrier directly above the existing ceiling, as it could allow moisture to collect above the liner panels and this could cause premature deterioration.

Do you have a burning building question (no pun intended) for The Pole Barn Guru?  Email me today!

 

How Does Vapor Barrier Prevent Condensation with Steel Roofing?

Condensation will occur on any surface when the surface air temperature is at or below the “dew point temperature” for an air-water (vapor) mixture. The dew point temperature is the temperature at which the air can no longer “hold” all of the water vapor which is mixed with it, and some of the water vapor must condense into liquid water. The dew point is always lower than (or equal to) the air temperature. 

The dew point temperature depends upon the dry bulb temperature (measured with an ordinary thermometer) and the relative humidity in the air space next to the surface. The dew point temperature is less than or equal to the dry bulb temperature. The two temperatures are equal when the relative humidity is 100%.

With an inside surface temperature of 70º Fahrenheit (F), and 50% relative humidity, the dew point temperature is 50.5º F. Bring the relative humidity up to 90% and the dew point is now at 66.9º F.

Condensation can occur when the outside temperature is cold. Insulation below the steel roofing will create an inside surface temperature which is above the roof surface temperature. The actual temperature of the inside surface depends upon the amount of thermal resistance between the roof and the inside surface. The higher the resistance, the closer the interior surface temperature will be to the inside air temperature. Maintaining a reasonable inside relative humidity (less than 60%) is an important factor in preventing condensation.

A reflective radiant barrier below the roof steel results in an interior surface temperature which is greater than the outside temperature (in cold weather). As the inside air surface temperature increases, the conditions for condensation become less likely to occur.

A vapor barrier is highly recommended on the underside of any steel roofing. A vapor barrier is a layer of material having a permeance of less than one perm and is typically applied to a warm interior surface to prevent condensation. If interior air containing water vapor is allowed to come in contact with a cold roof surface, then condensation will likely occur. Any insulation system which does not include a high quality vapor retarder will be of little or no value in controlling condensation in cold weather.

Bottom line: Make sure your steel roof has an adequate vapor barrier beneath it to control condensation.

 

Concrete Slab

I was talking with one of our clients yesterday. His builder was concerned because constructing the new pole building first, then pouring the concrete slab seemed backwards to him.

Here is the information I shared with the client:

While the preference is to have the building shell completed prior to pouring concrete slabs, at the very least roof should be installed.

Building columns tend to grow “bull’s-eyes” in the presence of pre-mix concrete trucks. A completed building shell is far more resistant to potential damage. Pouring slabs with columns only in place, adds to the risk of one inadvertently being knocked out of plumb.

Pouring a concrete slab in a pole barnThis blog is not meant to provide the necessary instruction to pour a building slab. Not because the task is beyond a novice’s abilities, although many do contract out this job. Pouring a slab is within most people’s abilities. However, unlike wood framing, which can be corrected if improperly constructed, work on a slab is “set in stone”. Due to this, and the fact so many local codes and practices apply to concrete slabs, I am only going to touch on this subject. If deciding to personally undertake pouring your own concrete slab, I suggest talking with local professionals to know what you are getting into. Have  a building inspector (usually a requirement in permitted situations) or a professional inspect work before pouring concrete. If less than 100% confident, hire a professional to work alongside during the concrete pour.

If in “frost country” a sub-base 6” or thicker should be first placed across the site. To maintain frost-free soils sub-base should be such that no more than 5% (by weight) will pass the No. 200 sieve, and it is further desired no more than 2% be finer than .02 mm.

Prior to pouring, 2” to 6” of clean and drained sand or sandy gravel is spread below where concrete is to be poured. Mechanically compact fill to at least 90% of a Modified Proctor Density, so as not to cause slab to sink.

Install a good vapor barrier (15ml thickness conforming to ASTM E1745) below any interior pour, to stop moisture from traveling up into slab through capillary action. Run vapor barrier up inside of skirt board (splash plank) by six inches. Vapor barrier seams should be overlapped by six or more inches and sealed with vapor tape.

The best insulation product to use under concrete slabs is closed cell polystyrene with a minimum R -10 value. Place directly on top of vapor barrier and below concrete. Insulation board seams do not need to be taped.

If not using fiber-mesh or similar reinforcement additives to concrete mixture, place wire mesh or rebar (reinforcing steel rods) in slab center to add rigidity to concrete to aid in minimizing cracking. Concrete should have a low-water mix.

Local code will dictate such things as slab thickness (usually 4” nominal), wire mesh sizing, gravel or sand layer thickness, and size and rebar location. Many garage or shop slabs also have a center drain. In the event structural engineering for a concrete floor (or any concrete or other masonry footings, foundations, walls, or retaining walls) is required or requested by you, or a building official, a registered professional engineer should be consulted for the design.

On solid walls of building, the pressure treated 2×8 splash plank will serve as forms for pouring a slab. In open wall areas, or across sliding or overhead doors, a 2×4 will need to be temporarily placed as a form.

Prior to pouring a nominal 4” (3-1/2” actual completed) thick concrete slab in building, finished, graded compacted fill TOP will be even with splash plank BOTTOM. If a thicker floor is desired, excavate below splash plank bottom, by any slab thickness greater than 4”. In no case, will the concrete floor top, be even with either top or bottom of the splash plank. Using any other measure for the concrete slab top, will result in wall steel and doors not properly fitting, as well as interior clear height loss.

In other words – after the floor is poured, when standing inside your new building, approximately 3-3/4” of the splash plank will be visible above the top of the slab.  

In the event a professional is hired to finish your concrete slab, most often costs can be reduced by directly paying the local pre-mix company for the concrete. Many offer discounts for prompt payment, so do not be afraid to ask. On a properly leveled site, a pre-mix concrete yard will cover an 80 square feet area, nominally four inches thick.

My last words of wisdom here…my best concrete slabs, were always poured by someone else.  I have learned when DIY jobs are truly DIY, and when to leave them to…a concrete professional.

We Ran Out of Insulation

Most of the steel roofed pole buildings supplied by Hansen Buildings include a reflective radiant barrier between the roof purlins and the roof steel to prevent condensation issues. Interested in more information on this product? Visit our page on the reflective radiant barrier difference.

Surprisingly (or not surprisingly) very few DIY building owners ever run short of insulation, the cases where a shortage comes up is generally when a builder is hired to do the erection.

Each chapter of the Hansen Buildings Construction Guide begins with listing the errors encountered from previous installations. When it comes to roof insulation here is the list:

1. Overlapping insulation rolls.

2. Cutting off at eave girts to create “waste”.

3. Placing insulation in overhangs (beyond column building lines).

4. Not placing roof insulation under all steel roof surfaces within building lines (including roof only shed or carport areas).

5. Failure to square roof plane before installation.

6. Not straightening eave girt to a string line before installation.

7. Failure to adequately seal joints, rips or tears in insulation.

8. Not using roof insulation.

 

One of the Hansen Pole Buildings Designers was recently speaking with his client, about their newly completed building and reported:

Customer says he came up short A1V and had to pay another $299 to buy more locally. He would like to know if the 4 rolls he received was the appropriate amount.  If so, he concedes the builder may have applied incorrectly.  If he was supposed to get more, please dig a bit deeper there.”

This particular building was a “monitor barn” – 12 foot wide wings on each side of a 16 foot wide raised center.

When we receive reports, such as these, my first instinct is we must have done something wrong. So, I go back to the beginning and work my way through, to determine, if indeed, this is the case. I always make sure I give every client the benefit of the doubt.

The length of the insulation in the wing roofs (measured with the run) was 12.773 feet

The raised center roof was 17.114 feet

12.773 + 17.114 + 12.773 = 42.66 feet

42.66 feet x 48 feet of building length = 2048 square feet to cover

The insulation rolls are supposed to be four feet wide by 128 feet in length, or 512 square feet.

2048 / 512  =  4 rolls
Here is where recent real life practical experience jumps in…

Having just put up a building myself (you may recall the recent adventures of Steve’s new garage), I was quite surprised to find out the 128 foot long rolls are actually several feet longer – we cut eight pieces 16 feet long from each roll and had probably 8-10 feet of left over from each!

My educated guess…..one or more of the “most common mistakes”, was utilized.

It is a shame $299 was paid for a roll locally as our price is far less, even with freight.  And the local roll most assuredly did not have the adhesive tab on one side, which makes installation a breeze.

Reflective radiant barrier in Pole Buildings

As I mentioned yesterday, once you decide what your “needs” are when it comes to insulation, you can begin to narrow down your choices.  Just knowing the “R” value is not enough.  Sometimes insulation is used in other ways – like a reflective radiant barrier.

We use a product which “just is what it is”.  Meaning, it’s not high on the R value, but the “use” is of far greater importance than true insulating value.

Our standard insulation is what is known as “A1V”.  This is a layer of closed air cells sandwiched between a reflective aluminum (A= Aluminum) facing on the exterior and a white vinyl (V= vinyl) facing on the interior. This product is “directional” when installed on a roof – it is better at preventing heat gain, than heat loss. Laboratory test results have given it values as great as R-14 against heat gain. Under no circumstances should you necessarily expect numbers close to this, or rely upon a reflective radiant barrier as the sole method of preventing heat loss or heat gain. The way I think of reflective radiant barrier is this: If you have a steel roof – it is a condensation barrier so it doesn’t rain on whatever I have in my building.

I have folks who tell me, “but I live in Arizona so I don’t need vapor barrier”.  Or they think because their “roof only” building where they are stacking hay underneath is totally open to the air underneath – it’s going to stay dry.  Think again.  No matter where you are, at some point in time the warm air rises from the ground after being bathed in sun all day. And when it hits the cooler temperature of the steel roof, the moisture condenses and yes, it will rain on you!

Another thing – because my newest building has a black roof which loves those sun rays, the aluminum facing reflects the heat and keeps my cooling costs down in the summertime.

There is also A2V – which is just what it sounds like: A=Aluminum, then 2 layers of air cells – and then V=Vinyl backing.  This is the insulation I have underneath my concrete floor to aid in keeping the heat – in the concrete and not end up trying to heat “halfway to China” as my Mother used to say.  The 2 layers of air cells are necessary from the standpoint of the bearing the weight of the concrete floor.  This time the aluminum side is “face down”, as the aluminum will react with the chemicals in the concrete. A2V is also pretty handy (easy to apply) around foundations, around water heaters and insulating garage doors.

One more product I want to mention is A2A – which as the name implies, has two layers of air cells between a layer of aluminum on both outer surfaces.  Once again, the layers of air cells are giving you two layers of tiny pockets of air to resist the transfer of heat through materials.  More layers of air cells means more layers of insulating value.  Back to the purpose of why you are using it – if indeed you are looking for some heavy duty insulation – A1V or even A2V alone is not the answer.  In combination with other products – you get the best of both worlds.

And this is why I wrapped my entire building in A1V, but then filled the attic and exterior wall cavities with BIBS® insulation.  My heating and cooling bills for this 7200 square accessory building are less than the costs for heating/cooling my double wide 2100 square foot 1994 home across the street.  Now that’s scary!  Back tomorrow with more on insulation – the itchy kind!

Building Insulation: Vapor Barrier

Insulation is one of the topics, once brought into conversation, seems to make most folks’ eyes glaze over.  Many know enough to ask about R Value, and understand “the higher the better”.  Or so they think.  Sometimes you need to stop a minute and go back to the source of what I call “the need”.  This is the way I teach our Building Designers, and clients as well, to think about any feature or addition to their pole building kit when they design their new building.  What are you going to need for your building?  Don’t just throw a bunch of stuff in and on there because it “my neighbor put it on his building”.  What are your needs?  Obviously we all choose features we want on our building, “just because”.  Just because it looks nice, gives the building a classier look, a lower profile, or we think the eagle on the weathervane hovering over the cupola is “pretty cool”.  This is all well and good, but insulation is not one of those “pretty parts” of a building.  Necessary yes, but what type and where do you put it?

When I designed my most recent pole building for my own use, I researched several types of insulation, and ended up using not one or two, but three different types of insulation, and each of them for their own specific purpose in relation to cost.  In other words, “what is the cost value” for each of them?

The types of insulation I looked at ranged from what most folks think of when you say “insulation”: fiberglass insulation, to foam board, spray on foam and B.I.B.’s (Blow in Blanket) along with the reflective type vapor barrier insulation in various configurations and applications.  I ended up putting reflective radiant barrier under my roof steel, wrapped my entire outside of the building in a reflective radiant barrier, put reflective radiant barrier under the heated concrete floor, fiberglass insulation in the interior walls, and then B.I.B.’s in the exterior walls.  Wow, I hear clients saying, “How do you know what to put where?”  Easy – once again it goes back to the “need”.  Over the next couple of days I will cover a few of the insulation choices out there, so get out a sheet of paper, make yourself a grid, and next time you need insulation, ask yourself these easy questions to decide “which insulation you are going to put where” in your new pole building.

First question, what is R value? For those of you who are not familiar with R values, it is simply the measure of resistance to heat flow. R-1 is equal to the resistance of a 1” thickness of wood. Insulation materials have tiny pockets of trapped air. These pockets resist the transfer of heat through material.  The ability of insulation to slow the transfer of heat is measured in R-values.  The higher the R-value, the better insulation’s ability to resist the flow of heat through it. Before you consider these products, read the test reports carefully.  In order to achieve the full promised values, the products must be installed in the center of an appropriate dead air space.

Second question, what are you going to be using your building for?  This will help you to determine what type of insulation you are going to need.  Of course, your “need” for insulation also depends on where you live.  If you are in Minnesota where I have my newest building, and want to change the oil in your car in January, putting reflective radiant barrier in the roof and even on the walls is probably not going to keep me warm.  No heating system is going to keep up with the heat pumping out of my building!

And, if you live in Knoxville, Tennessee and are OK working in your shop with coveralls on a few hours a week, your insulation answer will be greatly different than if you want to sit in your new shop in your shirtsleeves with your buddies watching the Super Bowl come January!

So your first project is this: take a sheet of paper and write down all the things you want to “do” within the confines your new building, including keeping pets, horses, or other animals at the right temperature.  Also make a list of other reasons we put insulation in spaces – noise for one.  Do you need good sound abatement for the “practice garage” for your son’s rock and roll band?  Is the loft bedroom right above where you work on motors or have a workshop with noisy machinery?

Once you decide on what your needs are for insulation, you can just match it to the Insulation Grid we’ll be making over the next several days.  I’ll be back tomorrow to start with the simplest of all insulation: reflective radiant barrier which includes a vapor barrier.  Winter is coming, so stay warm!

Bookshelf Girts aka Commercial Girts: What Are They?

Bookshelf Girts aka Commercial  Girts: What are they?

I do a lot of blogging, not because I enjoy it (which I do) but because I am always “listening” and learning.  And if there is anyone out there who I can help along the way, my fun increases exponentially.  I recently came across this posting on a Farm Forum:

Commercial Wall Girts

I am going to build a new shop building and wish to be able to finish the inside, insulation, sheeting, etc. I am in Minnesota, so it has to be fairly energy efficient. I saw some brief info on the “bookshelf method” in a pamphlet I picked up from a store. Looks like a super way to provide the desired structure on the inside of the wall surface to fasten sheeting to, and provide spaces for fiberglass batts laid in there horizontally. Very material efficient method, I believe. If anyone here has used this method, please share your experiences with it, pictures too if possible. Even if you have seen one built, like by a neighbor or friend, please speak up and share.
In case you do not recognize the method by the name I gave it (bookshelf), it is a technique which puts the wall girts between the posts, laid flat, typically 2×6’s, 24 inches on center vertically spaced (instead of the usual girt method which puts them on the outside of the posts). The pamphlet says they can be toe-nailed (?) or little nailers installed above and below them, for fastening to the posts. The pamphlet says wind loading is increased with the bookshelf method. The real attractive part of this method for me is that the 2×6 girt is available to the outside tin for fastening, then provides a 22.5 inch tall space for fiberglass bat (off the shelf size for between trusses on 24 inch center) and then is flush to the inside of the wall for interior wall sheeting fastening.
Thanks.

I’ve done several thousand pole buildings using the “bookshelf” or “commercial” girt method. I have two of them myself – in Northeastern WA, so have cold climate to contend with.

Use a commercial girt one size larger than the columns (2×8 on a 6×6 post, etc.), setting the commercial girt so 1-1/2″ hangs past the exterior face of the column. Wrap the framing with a well sealed high quality building wrap.

You will find this installation method compensates for any irregularities in the column dimensions and creates a deeper insulation cavity. Side benefits – electrical can be run around the outside of the columns, without the need to drill through them to run wires. On walls which are a multiple of 3′ in length, it also saves having to rip the edge of a panel off either the first or last sheet of steel on the wall.

In either case, block the ends of the bookshelf commercial girts solid against the columns with what is called “bearing blocks”.  Take 2×4’s or larger (depends upon engineering) which are cut 22-1/2” long to fit between the commercial girts and install them flat against the post on each side.  The wide face of the block should be flat against the column and lined up with the edge of the post (not sticking out past the column like the girts are).   Nail these girt support blocks to the columns with a minimum of (2)10d galvanized common nails at each end (higher wind loads may require more nails).  This type of nailing is quick and easy and provides a solid support for the commercial girt above it.  Toe-nailing is done by angling a nail upwards from the bottom (or downwards from the top) of the commercial girt, at a 45 degree angle trying to catch enough of the edge of the post as the nail goes through to the column to hold it there.  Toe-nailing is a very poor connection (is subject to lots of installation error).

For maximum cost effective R value, use BIBS insulation. I found it to be cost competitive with installed batt insulation, has a higher R value and completely fills all of the voids.

I fondly remember the gal who called me one day asking for “canning jar shelves”…you know like you did before for us.”  Checking our records, I quickly discovered we designed commercial girts on their first building.  They liked them so much – they wanted them again!

To receive more pole building tips and advice subscribe to the pole barn guru blog!

Lying or Just Plain Stupid?

Yesterday afternoon, one of our senior building designers sent me this instant message:Kid ready to make a bad decision

“So what do you do with a customer who is being sold a bill of goods by his contractor? Starting from, client was told he needed to pour footings and build with 2×6 studs because pole buildings ‘move too much’. All the way to – ‘you need to sheet your walls and roof with plywood before you put steel on’. This is because of security and dust coming through the walls. Not to mention on the roof for a vapor barrier.”

It amazes me the ignorance about pole buildings after over 80 years of solid pole building construction.

A bit more about this particular client’s building. It is 40’ x 80’ with a 14’ eave height. The client initially contacted the builder to get a labor quote only –  to construct a Hansen Building kit.  The client specifically asked for one of our pole buildings.  The builder told this client a pole building would be way too complicated to construct and the stick frame building would be less expensive.

Let’s look at the realities of the situation. To construct a stick frame building will take excavating a trench around the perimeter of the building to below the frost line (and it DOES freeze deep in Maine). A footing must be formed and poured. With a wall this tall, I’d imagine at the least it would have to be eight inches thick and 16 inches wide with rebar in it. On top of the footing will need to be formed up a foundation wall. This foundation is going to be a minimum of four feet tall, due to the frost depth. The wall should probably be an eight inch wall, but assuming six inch thick, three truckloads of concrete will be used for the footings and foundation! With the pole building, holes are augered in the ground and around five yards of concrete are required for the backfill. Pretty low tech and saves a bunch of money in equipment, materials and labor.

A kicker the contractor may not have considered, or has ignored….the maximum stud wall height allowed (according to code) without engineering is 10’. His building is going to need to be designed by a registered professional engineer in order to meet code requirements.

As far as “movement”, steel roofing and siding has shear values nearly equal to those of 7/16” osb or ½” plywood. Imagine the steel as being very thin, very strong plywood. It is the sheathing of a building which holds the frame stable, not the framework. With steel and plywood virtually equal for strength, it takes away the “movement” issue. Our Hansen pole building office is 44 feet high from ground to roof peak and has no noticeable movement in even the extreme wind loads of South Dakota.

Moving on, let’s address the issue of “eliminating dust”.  Each steel panel overlaps the adjacent panel which prevents dust infiltration. Base trim (aka “rat guard”) keeps dust from entering around the base of the building. All other steel edges have trims which cover possible infiltration areas. The eave edge of the roof steel and under the ridge cap are sealed by form fitting closure strips, which seal those areas.

The only place for dust to enter either style of building is going to be via an open door! Same goes for security – your building is only going to be as secure  as the quality of the doors. Chances are the builder is going to provide entry doors with wood jambs, which is an invitation to enter via a good swift kick. The commercial steel doors we provide have steel jambs as well.  No one is going to break those jambs with a kick.

As for a vapor barrier, our buildings come standard with a reflective radiant barrier for under the roof steel. With our exclusive PSA (pull strip attached) adhesive strips, proper installation assures the elimination of condensation. A side benefit being the increased insulation value and the reflective radiant barrier is superior against heat gain. Using plywood on a roof proves to be expensive, adds weight to the roof system and requires the use of asphalt felt paper or other similar and materials to create a water tight seal.

If ignorance is bliss, this particular contractor is either very happy, or he is feeding a line to the client. If the first, he is doing no justice to the client, if the second, he’s worse yet.  My guess is… stick framed is all he knows.  He is just too lazy to try something “new”, easier….and cheaper for the customer, while being just as solid, air tight and long lasting.