I’m in the planning stages of designing a she shed and one of the things I’ve wondered about is how to best insulate it. I live in Australia so temperature extremes are pretty common and I’d like me she shed to be as comfortable as possible in all weather.
If you want year round comfort in your she shed then insulating the structure is highly recommended. For best results you will need to insulate the floor structure, roof, walls and windows. There are many different methods for doing this that range in price and effectiveness. Other considerations are if you have electricity and plumbing in your shed.
Here is what else I found out.
Do you have to insulate a she shed?
There are no rules saying you absolutely have to insulate your she shed. That said, if you want it to be comfortable during weather extremes then you are probably better off making the effort to insulate.
Insulation in your shed will provide numerous benefits including:
- Maximum usage throughout the year
- Protection of the contents of your shed
- Comfort during the colder Winter months, and warmer Summer months
- Flexibility to use your she shed for multiple applications such as a hobby room, gym or workshop – the possibilities are endless
- Reduced noise for your neighbours with bulk insulation (you can crank the music up!)
Other things to consider before insulating your she shed
I know, I know really you just want to get to the part where you get to make your shed pretty but it’s pretty important in the planning stages to make sure you take care of the basics so that your end product is the best and most comfortable that it can be. So consider the following as you plan:
The climate where you live:
If you live in a very cold or a very hot climate you will want more insulation in your walls and ceiling.
Plan how you will heat or cool your shed:
It’s important to plan how you’ll heat and or cool your shed. It’s much easier to run wires, pipes and ductwork before the insulation is in and the walls are closed up. This will also influence if you need a vapour barrier as well.
You also need to make sure all your plumbing and electrical is installed before you insulate.
New installation or existing:
Your shed may already have some form of insulation in it. You can leave it and add more layers, or remove it and start fresh.
The roof of your she shed:
If you insulate your shed roof, be sure to leave ventilation space, especially in heated sheds. Condensation will form without adequate ventilation when the heat rises. This can lead to mould growth and rotting of wood.
Leaving a 2” gap above the insulation should be sufficient. Of course, the eaves should have ventilation to ensure good air and moisture exchange.
The floors of your she shed:
Insulating the floor of the shed will depend on the shed itself. Is it sitting directly on the ground? Is there a crawl space large enough to work under the shed? Is it possible to insulate the floor from the inside?
Insulating the floor of your shed, especially with a vapour or air barrier, can make a great deal of difference in the effectiveness of protection the shed provides.
Doors and windows need insulation too:
Good doors and windows will keep out drafts, moisture, and unwanted critters.
The standard windows in prefabricated sheds are not double paned and are often in metal frames. You can work with this depending on your goal for the shed. You can leave them in and cover them with plastic. Remember, the metal frames will most likely have condensation problems which will cause rust and other problems over time.
If you’re going to be using it for living space, you may want to consider replacing them with doubled paned windows (or installing if you are building from the ground up). This would most certainly mean supporting the window frames or adding new frames altogether.
The cracks and crevasses around window and door frames need to be sealed. Use waterproof caulking for small openings and a can of spray foam for larger cracks.
How can you insulate a she shed cheaply?
Probably the cheapest method I found was to use bubble wrap to insulate your she shed. This is cost effective but less efficient as an insulator and doesn’t provide any sound barrier. However, if you are on a budget it’s a great way to install basic insulation for your shed.
- Measure the shed panel and cut the bubble wrap to fit. Tip: attach it to the frame of the panel rather than flat on the panel as this will add an air gap making it a bit more effective
- Overlap the bubble wrap strips to avoid heat escaping through any gaps.
- Staple or tack the wrapping to the shed.
- Place a sheet of MDF boarding over the panel and screw or nail into place.
What’s the best insulation for a she shed?
Assuming you have a bit more room in the budget one of the options below might suit your needs better and give you a better result.
One of the first things to consider is they type of construction your shed is made from.
How to insulate a wooden shed – the options
Batts or Rolls such as Fibreglass Wool or Mineral Wool
Fibreglass/mineral wool batts are well-suited for insulating a shed. (Always remember to protect yourself, cover your eyes, nose, and mouth and also wear protective gloves when handling fiberglass wool.)
- Tack a breathable membrane (such as Tyvek wrap) to the inner walls of the shed.
- Place the fiberglass wool shed insulation on top.
- Add a solid sheet wood board, to cover the fiberglass.
Sisalation Paper or Reflective Insulation
Sisalation paper is a high-quality reflective foil insulation paper. It is energy efficient and protects buildings from heat, extreme cold, moisture, dust and even helps reduce wind noise. It is economical and easy to install, making it a great choice for most structures.
This type of insulation is favoured by many Australians (which is where I live) because of how well it suits the climate and can eliminate the need for heating/cooling devices, cutting back on energy costs.
This is best installed on a new build shed as it goes on the outside of the framing.
Blow-in Cellulose Insulation
This is a loose insulation usually made of paper or fibres that is blown in – good for roof spaces and wall cavities.
Rigid Board Insulation
Made from polystyrene foam these come in board form and can be cut to fit.
Spray Foam Insulation
Garden sheds, garages, workshops or factories of any shape or size can be sprayed with a polyurethane foam insulation.
Polyurethane is applied to insulate as well as eliminate condensation, dust and aid in noise reduction.
Here’s a video to show how it’s done with a DIY kit. This option is less expensive than hiring someone to do it for you but is still one of the costlier options.
How to insulate a metal shed
If you have a metal shed that you want to spend time in then you will definitely want to insulate it to make it comfortable and to protect the items in your shed. Metal is a great heat conductor which will make it hot in summer and susceptible to condensation.
Insulating a metal shed can be tricky but there are a number of options.
These include (descriptions are above):
- Closed-cell spray foam
- ISO rigid foam
- Mineral fibre
- Cellulose, blown-in
- Fiberglass batts
Probably the best, though not the cheapest or easiest option is the foam insulation with fibreglass batts being the least expensive (though you will definitely need additional protective gear for this option which will add to the cost).
Do you need a vapour barrier in your she shed?
You only need to install a vapour barrier in your shed if you plan on having heating or cooling in the shed. A shed without heat and air-conditioning does not need to have a vapour barrier as it may cause condensation and mould growth.
If you plan to build your shed on a concrete floor, a plastic barrier under the slab will prevent moisture from entering through the concrete.
If you want more details on installing a vapour barrier (and if you need to) check out this great article from Plasticine House.
Time to Insulate!
So in conclusion you most likely will want to insulate your shed. To get the most efficient heating and cooling of your shed you will want to make sure you address all of the surfaces in your shed from the floors to the roof, windows and doors.
If you do it right you’ll have a comfortable she shed for life.