Insulating Your Garage: [A Decision Guide]
What do you think of when you hear the word “garage?” A place to store your car and tools or a room for workspace?
- 1 Insulating Your Garage: [A Decision Guide]
- 1.1 What are the benefits of insulating a garage?
- 1.1.1 Increases Usable Space
- 1.1.2 Improves Fire Resistance
- 1.1.3 Saves Money On Energy Bills
- 1.1.4 Reduces Noise From The Outside
- 1.1.5 Prolongs The Life Of Your Vehicles & Tools
- 1.1.6 Keeps Pests Such As Rodents, Insects, and Bats Out
- 1.1.7 Protects Stored Items From The Elements
- 1.1.8 Provides a Finished Look to Your Garage
- 1.1.9 Allows Year-Round Use of The Garage
- 1.1.10 Protects From Carbon Monoxide
- 1.1.11 Reducing The Risk of Frozen Pipes in Winter
- 1.2 What are the drawbacks of insulating a garage?
- 1.2.1 Increases Initial Cost
- 1.2.2 Requires Installation of Additional Ventilation
- 1.2.3 Increases the Risk of Mildew and Mold Growth
- 1.2.4 Reduces the Amount of Natural Light
- 1.2.5 Can be Difficult to Insulate an Existing Garage
- 1.2.6 No Guarantee That Insulation Will Work
- 1.2.7 Garage Door Insulation Can be a Significant Challenge
- 1.2.8 Garage Insulation Can be Counterproductive in Warm Climates
- 1.2.9 Garage Insulation Doesn’t Look Good When Left Unfinished
- 1.2.10 Reduces Garage Space
- 1.2.11 Insulated Garages May Necessitate Separate Climate Control.
- 1.2.12 May Require Garage Floor Insulation
- 1.3 Should you insulate your garage by yourself?
- 1.4 How to insulate garage walls?
- 1.5 How to insulate garage doors?
- 1.6 How to insulate the garage ceiling?
- 1.7 How to insulate garage floors?
- 1.8 Types of garage insulation
- 1.9 Precautions for DIY Garage Insulation
- 1.9.1 Remove any items on the garage floor
- 1.9.2 Cover outlets, windows, and other openings
- 1.9.3 Seal all possible ventilation ducts
- 1.9.4 Protect your garage door
- 1.9.5 Wear Protective Clothing
- 1.9.6 Wear Eye Protection
- 1.9.7 Wear a Dust Mask
- 1.9.8 Minimize Dust Generation
- 1.9.9 Clean Up After Yourself
- 1.9.10 Maintain adequate ventilation
- 1.10 Conclusion
- 1.1 What are the benefits of insulating a garage?
If it’s the latter, then you may want to make your garage a more comfortable place to work.
Let’s face it, we cannot control the weather outside. We also can’t do any serious work in our garage if it’s too cold or hot.
Then to make sure our garage is a productive space, we need to look for ways to improve its thermal comfort.
There is no way of establishing thermal comfort in any environment without controlling the heat transfer from and to that space.
Since we want to keep our garage’s temperature as consistent as possible, we have to prevent heat transfer with the surrounding environment.
Otherwise, no amount of heating or cooling will help to maintain a comfortable temperature in the garage.
We all know how expensive it can be to heat and cool our homes, so it always makes sense to try and conserve energy.
What are the benefits of insulating a garage?
There are many benefits of insulating a garage. Some of them are direct, which could be noticed immediately after the installation. While others are less obvious but still very important.
Here are some of the benefits of insulating a garage:
Increases Usable Space
Insulating your garage will provide you with additional space that you would otherwise not have.
A well-insulated garage can be used for many different purposes than a storage space.
You can use it as a workshop, gaming area, or even for occasional parties. The options are endless when you have an insulated garage.
Because you have improved its thermal performance, you can now use it in ways you never thought possible.
Improves Fire Resistance
Fire is a major concern for all properties and garages are no exception. A garage may be especially vulnerable to fire due to the number of flammable materials that are often stored there, such as gasoline and paint.
By insulating your garage, you can help improve its fire resistance. This means if a fire does start, it will be more difficult for it to spread and damage your adjacent home.
However, you shouldn’t use insulation as a substitute for fire safety precautions. Make sure you have working smoke detectors and keep flammable materials in safe places.
Saves Money On Energy Bills
Insulating your garage will not only make it more comfortable but also save you money on your energy bills.
A garage without insulation cannot maintain a stable comfortable temperature. Because of this, the heating and cooling system will run constantly without achieving your desired results.
This is why you should insulate your garage to reduce heat transfer between its interior and exterior. Reducing heat transfer from your garage will also reduce the need for your heating system to work as hard, leading to lower energy bills.
Reduces Noise From The Outside
Using insulation will reduce the amount of noise you hear from the outside within the garage, and even in your house. However, since the primary goal of insulation is to prevent heat loss, it will not reduce noise very effectively.
If you also want to soundproof your garage, you can install a soundproofing material on the walls. Alternatively, you can choose insulation materials that have good soundproofing properties.
Prolongs The Life Of Your Vehicles & Tools
Vehicles and tools stored in a garage age faster due to the cold temperatures and humidity, which leads to rusting.
Also, cold starting vehicles and most equipment can also lead to premature failure over time. By insulating your garage, you can help to prevent these problems and keep them in a better condition for longer.
Keeps Pests Such As Rodents, Insects, and Bats Out
A garage may be more sophisticated than it looks. It can be a breeding ground for rodents, insects, and bats. Insulation helps keep these pests out, which is critical in keeping the garage clean and sanitary.
However, garage insulation alone won’t be enough to completely stop pests from entering.
In fact, the warm environment will attract pests, so you must make sure your garage door is always closed. Additional pest control may also be necessary to get rid of any pests that have already infiltrated your garage.
Protects Stored Items From The Elements
Everyone stores a lot of things in their garage from holiday decorations to lawn equipment. If your garage isn’t properly insulated, then all of those items are susceptible to damage from the weather.
Especially if you live in a colder climate, properly insulating your garage can help keep the heat in during winter preventing the cold air from seeping in and potentially damaging your stored items.
Provides a Finished Look to Your Garage
Most garages look unfinished without insulation. By insulating, you can make the space more comfortable and inviting to use. Not only will this improve your quality of life, but it can also increase the resale value of your home.
Hence, it wouldn’t be wrong to say that insulating your garage is also a decorative improvement.
You can use this opportunity wisely and choose an insulation material that also enhances the look of your garage.
There are many different types of insulation materials that have attractive visual properties, such as wood-look or stone-look. The possibilities are endless once you are ready to enhance the look of your garage.
Allows Year-Round Use of The Garage
We all have high hopes for the garage. It’s where we park our cars, lock up our bikes, store excess home items, and even gardening equipment.
However, you may also want to use your garage to fix up your car or even put together a nice workbench.
If you plan to use your garage for these kinds of projects, you’ll want to think about insulation.
Because, if the garage isn’t insulated, it will be colder in the winter and hotter in the summer which can make it uncomfortable to use.
Protects From Carbon Monoxide
Cars, trucks, and other engines are known to emit carbon monoxide (CO). Even if the idling times are short, the gas can build up and cause health problems.
When you have your garage insulated, it will help to keep the CO preventing moving from the garage to your house.
CO accumulation becomes a bigger issue especially during the winter when doors and windows are closed for longer periods. Also, many garage owners are still using fuel-burning heaters which are known to emit CO.
When you insulate your garage you keep this gas in check. You can take measures like installing a dedicated exhaust fan to remove CO and monitor your system through CO detectors you can install in your garage.
Even if your garage isn’t attached to your house or any other building for that matter, you would still want to keep CO in check.
Remember, CO is an odorless and colorless gas, so you really can’t tell if there’s a problem until it’s too late. Therefore, always take precautionary measures to keep yourself and your loved ones safe.
Reducing The Risk of Frozen Pipes in Winter
Pipes are very likely to freeze when they are exposed to the elements. If your garage isn’t insulated, then you will have no control over how cold it can get in there depending on where you live.
Insulating your garage ensures that the temperature doesn’t go below freezing allowing for the protection of pipes in wintertime.
Since most pipes are related to the different water systems in your house, you will also protect the waterlines from bursting.
So far we have mentioned the benefits of garage insulation. But don’t think that it is without its cons.
What are the drawbacks of insulating a garage?
Although there are many benefits to insulating a garage, there are some drawbacks that should be considered as well.
Here are the most common ones:
Increases Initial Cost
Insulation is an investment and like all investments, it requires an initial cost. However, the long-term benefits of insulation usually outweigh the initial cost.
The initial cost of insulating a garage can be expensive. Depending on the size of your garage, the type of insulation you choose, and the labor involved, it could cost anywhere from $500 to $3000. However, in most cases, the expense is worth it in the long run.
Requires Installation of Additional Ventilation
Once you insulate your garage you minimize paths for air to move in and out. In other words, you reduce the natural ventilation of your garage.
This means CO and other exhaust gases will build up which can be harmful to your health.
In order to combat this, you will need to install additional ventilation such as an exhaust. It can be as simple as a standard fan or something more advanced like an exhaust vent with a carbon monoxide sensor.
In fact, depending on where you live, you may already have certain standards that you have to abide by when it comes to garage ventilation.
Increases the Risk of Mildew and Mold Growth
Exhaust gases are not the only things that can build up in an insulated garage.
When you restrict the natural ventilation in your garage, you cause condensation to occur on the walls and surfaces. With no way for the air to move, moisture will also accumulate.
This can lead to the growth of mildew and mold, which can cause respiratory problems.
Therefore, it’s important that you have proper ventilation in place and keep your garage well-ventilated.
Reduces the Amount of Natural Light
Most garages aren’t particularly bright, to begin with. However, some may still receive limited daylight through openings under doors or at wall intersections.
If you insulate your garage, you will close these openings and potentially reduce the amount of natural light that enters. This can be a significant disadvantage if you use your garage as a workspace.
Because our primary goal in insulating the garage was to make it more comfortable and usable.
However, if you close these gaps, you may need to add more lighting. Otherwise, the enhancements we make may effectively defeat the purpose.
Can be Difficult to Insulate an Existing Garage
Insulation is not as simple as it sounds. You can’t just throw some insulation in the garage and hope for the best. In order to get the most out of your insulation, you have to plan for it.
If your garage is already built and in use, you need to know where to start and how to continue the insulation process.
In some cases, it could be a challenge to displace existing garage equipment and some items may be inconvenienced along the way.
Therefore, expect the installation process to be a little more complicated if your garage is already built.
No Guarantee That Insulation Will Work
There is no guarantee that the insulation will work as expected, and it may end up not being worth the cost. Although it’s rare, this could be the outcome.
A lot of times property owners will insulate their garage on their own, choosing a random insulation product from a home improvement store.
More often than not, their selection won’t be the best for their climate and they won’t achieve the desired R-value which will result in an underinsulated garage.
Because every garage is different. Some are made of masonry, others are metal or wood.
Some have adjacent living spaces while others do not. There is no one-size-fits-all insulation solution. Therefore, it’s highly recommended to work with a specialist before you make a decision.
Because the last thing you want to do is insulate your garage only to discover that it wasn’t the best option for your particular situation.
Garage Door Insulation Can be a Significant Challenge
We have said insulation is not as simple as it seems, and this is especially true when it comes to the garage door.
Garage doors are moving parts of any garage to serve as the primary entrance and exit. They also can be quite large in overall size.
This means you cannot achieve effective insulation of a garage without properly insulating the garage door. This can create significant challenges depending on the type of door you have.
Because some garage doors are like gate doors they split open in the middle. However, some are made like roller doors, and they roll up into the ceiling.
Insulating a roller garage door is a lot more complicated and probably impossible for a lot of garages. For this reason, it’s important to consider how you will insulate your garage door when planning the insulation process.
If you want to have a well-insulated garage from the start, you should better choose a garage door system that comes pre-insulated.
Garage Insulation Can be Counterproductive in Warm Climates
In warm climates, you may actually want to avoid insulating your garage. This is because insulation can trap heat and make the garage even warmer than it already is.
If you live in a location where winters are mild and summers are hot, it’s important to take this into account when deciding whether or not to insulate your garage.
Garage Insulation Doesn’t Look Good When Left Unfinished
Who wants an ugly garage? Nobody. Make sure to take care of the details when insulating your garage.
When insulation is left unfinished, it’s not a pretty sight. In order to get the most out of your insulation, you need to make sure that it’s installed properly and finished well.
This means taking care of the details like making sure the insulation is covered and that there are no gaps or holes. It also means making sure the surface is completed with drywall, plywood, or other materials to ensure it’s presentable.
Otherwise, it may look like a half-finished job. This can be a turnoff to potential buyers or renters, and it may reduce the value of your property.
Reduces Garage Space
Although not everyone experiences this, insulating a garage can reduce the amount of space available for parking or storage.
This is due to the fact that the insulation must be cut and fitted around windows, garage doors, electrical outlets, and so on.
As a result, you may need to make adjustments to your design layout to accommodate the new space requirements caused by insulation.
Insulated Garages May Necessitate Separate Climate Control.
Even if you insulate your garage, it may still be necessary to have a separate climate control system for the garage. This is because insulation can only do so much to keep the environment comfortable.
If you’re using your garage as a workspace or as an additional living space, it’s important to make sure that it’s properly climate-controlled. This may require the installation of a separate climate control system.
May Require Garage Floor Insulation
When we talk about garage insulation, we’re not just talking about the walls and ceiling. The floor is also an important part of the equation. However, it is often neglected.
The floor of a garage is very important to insulate because a lot of heat can be lost through the floor.
One of the most important requirements of establishing thermal comfort in an environment is achieving thermal equilibrium also known as Radiant Thermal Comfort.
It means that the temperature in the room is consistent on all surfaces and does not differ significantly from floor to ceiling or wall to wall. This can only be achieved by insulating the floor of your garage.
Should you insulate your garage by yourself?
Insulation is often quite complicated because of all the different factors that need to be considered.
Choosing the right type of insulation, laying it properly, and finishing the job correctly requires a good deal of knowledge and skill.
If you lack the necessary experience or training, you may end up wasting money on the wrong type of insulation or doing a job that’s not right.
Therefore, it’s best to leave insulation installation to professionals unless you have the necessary experience or training.
If you decide to insulate your own garage, do your homework. At least get expert advice on the best insulation for your climate and specific needs. Also, make sure that you have all of the necessary tools and equipment before getting started.
Otherwise, you may end up having to stop in the middle of a time-sensitive job without the necessary equipment to finish the job.
How to insulate garage walls?
Walls are usually the largest surface area of a garage and need to be considered when insulating. Insulating walls you have many options.
The most common way to insulate walls is by using fiberglass batts. This involves cutting the batts to fit the shape of the wall and then stapling them in place.
Another option is to use rigid foam board insulation. This type of insulation comes in large panels that can be cut to size. They are then glued to the wall using a construction adhesive or special caulking compound.
Using spray foam insulation is another option for insulating walls. This type of insulation can be sprayed directly onto the wall by using a special machine.
Depending on the type required thickness, there may be a need for two or more applications.
Finally, there’s also the option of using an insulation blanket. This type of insulation is a lot like fiberglass batts but has reflective aluminum on one side to reflect radiant heat back into the garage.
Whichever option you choose, make sure that the insulation is rated for exterior applications. Otherwise, it won’t be able to withstand the elements and will have a short life span.
How to insulate garage doors?
Insulating garage doors is a little different than insulating garage walls. Because doors are moving parts, it’s a strong consideration to factor in when insulating your garage doors.
In order to insulate the door properly and avoid any problems with opening or closing it, later on, you need the right type of insulation for this purpose.
For this goal, you can use vinyl or foil-faced batts or foil-faced rigid foam boards, which are readily available in kits.
There are kits that come with everything you need to do the job, including weatherstripping, spray adhesive, a utility knife, and tape.
These are great if you’re a beginner and not sure how to go about insulation. You can follow the included instructions to complete the job.
However, if you’re experienced with these types of projects and want something more customizable, there are other options as well.
As long as the insulation thickness is not an issue for the door mechanism, you can use adhesive-backed foil bubble insulation or aluminum foil foam insulation instead of a kit.
For insulation to work, it doesn’t always have to be thick. There are highly engineered insulation solutions that provide great R-values with only a thin layer of insulation.
How to insulate the garage ceiling?
The garage ceiling is often the last place people think to insulate, but it’s one of the most important places.
Because conditioned warm air rises, the garage ceiling is where a lot of heat loss occurs.
Insulation of garage ceilings is somewhat similar to insulating garage walls because both surfaces are large and flat. There’s a wide range of available insulation options, so you can choose the one that best suits your needs.
The tricky part of insulating your garage is the gravity that pulls the insulation toward the floor.
This makes it difficult to get a snug fit unless you have something that will hold it up while you work. You can use furring strips, which are wooden boards with one end thicker than the other.
The thick end is hammered into place to act as support while you install the insulation. You then screw or nail the furring strip to the joists, which are the wooden beams that make up the ceiling structure.
Once the furring strip is in place, you can install your insulation. This can be done by stapling it to the furring strip, using adhesive-backed insulation, or installing batts between the furring strip and joists.
The best way to ensure that your garage insulation is doing its job is to hire a professional insulation company.
They will be able to test the R-value of your existing insulation and determine if there are any gaps that need to be filled.
How to insulate garage floors?
Insulating the garage floor is another important consideration when insulating your garage.
The floor is where you can really feel the cold in the winter through your shoes.
If you have a concrete garage floor, you can apply a coat of epoxy paint or sealant to it. This will help to keep the heat in and make it a little easier to clean.
If you have an unfinished concrete floor, it’s important that you properly prepare the surface before applying insulation. This can be done by sealing the surface with a sealant or primer.
You can then install insulation over the concrete. The best way to do this is to tack the insulation to the concrete with a staple gun and then lay it down.
You can also use adhesive-backed insulation for this purpose. However, you’ll need to make sure that the adhesive is strong enough to hold up the insulation.
If you have a wooden garage floor, you can install insulation directly to the floor. The best way to do this is by using a spray adhesive. You can then lay down the insulation and attach it to the floor.
Types of garage insulation
There are many ways to insulate a garage and there are many different insulation materials to choose from.
However, in most cases, you will choose one of the following types of insulations.
Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam ceiling insulation is a soft foam (often water-blown) that is sprayed between joists and rim joists to produce a high-performance insulation barrier for your ceiling.
It comes in a wide variety of formulations to meet the specific needs of your project.
Icynene spray foam is a particularly good choice for garages because it is moisture-resistant and will not support mold or mildew growth.
When the product is sprayed in place, it expands to fill all the cracks and crevices for an airtight seal.
Spray foam insulation creates an air barrier that prevents heat from escaping by convection, which is a primary source of energy loss through ceilings.
Icynene also reduces condensation buildup since its open-celled structure does not trap moisture.
It is critical that lumber in the ceiling breathes. Because otherwise condensation will build up and timber will rot.
Rotting wood can easily cave in, so it’s vital to protect your ceiling from condensation by adding ceiling insulation that allows the ceiling’s joists to breathe.
Spray foam insulation does not droop or settle with time, unlike loose-fill ceiling insulation, which may settle and move around over time, diminishing its ability to properly insulate your ceiling.
It will not decay or shift once installed, delivering consistent and long-lasting insulation for your ceiling.
Blanket Fill Insulation
Blanket fill ceiling insulation is often available in rolls or batts. It is typically made of fiberglass, mineral wool, cellulose, or synthetic fibers.
It is designed to fit between studs, joists, and beams and is typically pre-measured to accommodate standard stud and joist spacing. It can also be rolled over ceiling joists in its roll form, preventing heat loss by conduction.
One of the benefits of blanket-fill ceiling insulation is that it is simple to install. However, cutting the material to the exact size needed to fit between the joists can be problematic, particularly in buildings with distinct architectural styles.
When it comes to ceiling insulation, even the smallest spaces need to be properly insulated.
So make sure to seal any gaps and cracks where warm air can escape with a combination of caulk, weatherstripping, and expanding foam insulation.
Blanket fill ceiling insulation is typically available in conventional sizes, which may make installation easier for some. However, these sizes are based on average measurements, so some customization will likely be required.
Since each garage is unique, the spaces between the joists are unlikely to be the same with each installation.
So take the time to measure your garage and purchase insulation that is as closely sized as possible to fit your specific space.
Loose-fill ceiling insulation is made up of small particles that are blown into the spaces between joists and other structural members. It is available in a variety of materials, including fiberglass, mineral, and cellulose.
It is blown into the spaces between the joists and crawlspaces with specialized insulation-blowing equipment.
This makes it a better alternative to blanket insulation, which can be difficult to install in spaces that are not flat.
However, loose-fill insulation has certain limits like moisture accumulation and settling over time.
Therefore, if you plan to install loose-fill ceiling insulation, you may also need to add soffit vents to prevent condensation.
This will keep humidity levels low and prevent the insulation from deteriorating at an additional cost on your part.
Because the material used in loose-fill insulation is (as the name implies) “loose,” it might shift and settle over time, which could reduce its ability to insulate over time.
Unlike spray foam insulation, loose-fill insulation will not fill any holes or voids in your ceiling. Hence, the air will still be able to pass through the insulation, leading to energy loss.
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs):
Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) are a form of prefabricated insulation. They are made up of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two pieces of Oriented Strand Board (OSB).
SIPs are designed to be used as insulation and structural material in a variety of applications, including walls, floors, and roofs. They are typically used as an alternative to conventional building materials like plywood and studs.
SIP insulation can be cut with a saw or a laser to fit any space, including odd shapes and corners. They are also easy to install, requiring just a screwdriver in some cases.
Although they may not give the same amount of potential energy savings as Icynene (Icynene provides energy savings of up to 50%), they still offer good protection against heat transfer. One additional benefit of SIPs is their soundproofing properties.
Precautions for DIY Garage Insulation
If you are thinking about insulating your garage on your own, there are a few things you need to keep in mind.
Remove any items on the garage floor
Remove any items from your garage that may get in the way of spreading insulation.
If you have a lot of items in your garage, it may be best to move them somewhere else to make room for the insulation.
Cover outlets, windows, and other openings
Before you start insulation installation, it’s important to cover any electrical outlets, windows, and other openings in the garage.
This is to prevent insulation from getting into these openings and creating a whole other set of problems.
Seal all possible ventilation ducts
There shouldn’t be any ventilation ducts in your garage that go into the house. If there are, make sure to seal them off before you start insulation installation.
This is to prevent insulation from getting into the house. Because insulation particles are harmful to your health, it’s important to take every precaution to avoid them breathing.
Protect your garage door
Garage doors are typically not insulated along with the walls and ceiling. This means you want to avoid insulation particles getting into the door tracks.
To combat this, you can cover the tracks with duct tape or some other type of sealant.
Wear Protective Clothing
When you are insulating your garage, it’s important to wear protective clothing. This will help protect your face, hands, and other parts of your body from insulation particles.
Since most types of insulation can be harmful if they come in contact with the skin this is a necessary precaution to take when doing DIY insulation.
Wear Eye Protection
In addition, you’ll also want to wear eye protection. This is because insulation can often contain small particles that can get into your eyes and cause irritation.
It’s best to protect yourself from potential injuries by wearing goggles or some other form of eye protection.
Wear a Dust Mask
Another thing you’ll want to do is wear a dust mask. This is because insulation can often contain harmful particles that can be breathed in and cause health problems down the line.
It’s best to protect yourself by wearing a dust mask while installing insulation. Choose a mask that’s designed to filter out harmful particles, and replace the mask when it gets dirty.
Minimize Dust Generation
You’ll want to try and minimize the amount of dust that’s generated during insulation installation.
One way to do this is by choosing insulation that is close to the size of your studs. This way, you will not likely need a saw to cut the insulation.
Use a vacuum cleaner with a dust collection bag to clean up the insulation particles. Never use a leaf blower because this will just spread the particles around.
Clean Up After Yourself
Make sure you clean up after yourself once the installation is finished. Most insulation is not environmentally friendly, and some can even be dangerous to the environment if not disposed of properly.
Make sure you have a plan for dealing with insulation waste before getting started.
If you’re not sure how to properly dispose of insulation, contact your local waste management company or environmental protection agency for more information.
Maintain adequate ventilation
Insulation installation will create dust and other particles along with the adhesive vapor. This means it’s important to maintain adequate ventilation during insulation installation.
This will help you avoid breathing certain gases and particles that can be harmful to your health.
Insulating a garage is often an afterthought, but it can make a big difference in its comfort and energy efficiency of it.
Don’t make the mistake of assuming that one blanket of insulation you have picked up at the hardware store is going to be enough.
There are a lot of factors to consider when insulating a garage, as you have read. And it’s important not to ignore those issues because they can lead to big problems down the road.
Therefore, take the time to consult with a professional and map out a plan before you start the installation process.