Insulating your garage makes a lot of sense, especially if you plan to heat or cool the space for projects. One of the vital steps of this process is choosing the correct materials. Even though you can use the same insulation types for both your house and the garage, areas like the garage door and the ceiling may require some additional research. Whether your garage is finished or not (or whether you’d like it to be) will also be a factor.
Insulating your entire garage will require some consideration of the different types of places heat and cool can escape. Take a look at your walls, garage door, and ceiling. Each area will require a different type of insulation to get the job done effectively. Knowing your insulation types, the materials required, and how to complete the job in full will help get your insulation project off the ground.
Why Insulate Your Garage?
It usually pays to insulate your garage if you plan to add some form of heating or cooling to your space – as needed or permanently. A popular misconception that you may have heard supposes that insulation adds warmth. In reality, insulation is vital to slow down heat or cooling loss via the ceiling, floor, or through the door. Insulation is also used in slowing sound transfer (aka soundproofing). Moreover, insulation capitalizes on maintaining the optimal conditions of the room regardless of the time of year.
Here are some benefits of insulation at a glance:
- Prevents heat transfer
- Thermal regulation
- Prevents air leakage
- Stops heat transfer
- Provides sound dampening or soundproofing
Full Garage Insulation – Where to Start
An easy first step towards a full insulative make-over is to assess any potential gaps, joints, or cracks in your walls. Adding a spray foam seal to the gaps and cracks that allow daylight passage will help you get underway. Take a minute as well to ensure that your weather-stripping beneath the garage door, along with the windows and door frames, is intact and sealed against drafts.
It important is to realize the value of air-sealing in conjunction with insulation of the room. Generally, garages are not built to be airtight; hence they are made up of many air gaps to the outdoors. This means that you could insulate your garage to the highest R-Value, but by failing to fill these air gaps could still result in waste of heat or cooling.
The Safety Measures to Observe While Insulating your Garage
After the initial work is done, the bigger, messier insulation will come into play. When working with insulation it is important to have the right clothes for the job. Below is the list of personal protective gear you will need.
- Gloves: To protect yourself from cuts and bruises
- Fiberglass proof mask: This prevents you from inhaling the fiberglass particle.
- Safety goggles: Keep that junk out of your eyes too!
- A long-sleeved shirt and pants: Essential to protect your lower body from injuries.
- Boots or closed shoes: To protect your feet.
Materials Needed for Insulation Task
Insulation requires some attention to detail to get the best results. Having correct tools is essential to finish the task in time and efficiently. While doing the planning, ensure you observe all any the local laws and construction guidelines to ensure your project is completed up to code.
The Essential Tool List: You will need a hammer tacker, ladder or stilts, knee pads, and a box cutter.
Types of Insulation for a Garage
Depending on which area of the garage you want to tackle first, your material list will look different. There are a variety of methods and products that will all produce fantastic results. Knowing what’s on the market and where to use the correct insulation types will help you as you plan your project.
Blankets (Batts and Rolls)
Fiberglass insulation is the most common type seen in residential construction. It comes in batts or rolls, commonly called blanket insulation. Batts are usually pre-shaped and cut into large rectangles, while a roll of insulation usually comes wrapped like a giant Fruit by the Foot. Pre-cut batts are useful for filling the space between standard-sized studs. A grab and install pack can make quick work of insulating the walls in a garage. Rockwool is another type of insulation that is used for soundproofing and commonly comes in batts.
Radiant barriers are constructed with state-of-the-art designs that protect against consistent rays from the sun, thus keeping your spaces cooler. Sold in rolls, it typically looks like silver bubble wrap that helps block heat transfer. In roll form, radiant barrier can be used to insulate garage door panels or placed inside walls before adding other kinds of batt or fill insulation. Typically, batt insulation includes a radiant barrier as a foil cover with a paper backer. Some garage door insulation kits include it as well, but you will need to check.
Loose-fill insulation does not have a specific method on how to go about it. The process typically resembles stuffing a teddy bear. Using this method, you will typically be required to blow the loose fillings into spaces on top of a barrier. Moreover, this method is usually recommended when filling odd shapes or spaces, like oddly-framed corners or crannies in the attic.
Rigid insulation is usually added to the frames of a building during construction. This is common with stucco exteriors where a layer of textured concrete is added to the framing. For your garage upgrade purposes, these can be easier to work with as they aren’t soft and as messy as fiberglass. Foam boards are commonly used when insulating garage doors but can also be used as ceiling tiles.
Cellulose is essentially spray-in paper. It takes some equipment to install but is commonly used to insulate ceilings and attics. If you are considering this type, know that there is some labor involved, unless you hire out. But you can determine the thickness that this insulation is sprayed in, which can make your insulation more effective in the long-run.
Spray Foam Insulation
This type of insulation is very effective for temperature control in your garage, as the foam can be installed in the attic closer to the roof. However, the installation process is one that you will need to call in the professionals for. Check your options, but if you are working on a budget, another option might be a better fit for your ceilings.
R-Value in Types of Garage Insulation
As stated by The Department of Energy, R-value is the measurement of an insulation material’s ability to reduce heat flow. Moreover, the higher the R-value, the efficient the insulation ability.
All insulation material’s thermal capacity is measured in terms of the R-value. The higher the R-value of a material, the greater its insulating effect.
- Fiber Glass Batts: These are the most widely used insulation materials. Their R-values range between R-11 to R-13 with regards to the brand. Notably, insulating using fiberglass batts can be a DIY project.
- Blown-in cellulose: This type is popular in garage and attics and can be DIY friendly with the right equipment. Moreover, insulation materials made of cellulose have an R-value of roughly 3.5 for each inch of insulation. For example, a 12-inch thick layer will offer a value of R-42
- Rigid foam panels: These panels can be cut and fitted inside the wall’s studs. Moreover, they come with an R-value ranging between 4.5 to 5 for every inch. However, they are less DIY friendly due to the difficulty in cutting the panes precisely without leaving gaps
- Spray foam insulation: This kind is dense and provides an R-Value of about 6.2 for every inch. However, spray foam insulation is not a DIY task; hence, you must call in a certified installer to do the job.
The Process of Insulating a Garage
- Begin by decluttering the garage to remove any obstructions that could get in the way
- Point out all small or odd spaces, measure them out, and cut them out from a batt using a box cutter. Ensure you use custom pieces and refrain from smashing, squishing, or shoving insulation materials into the tough spot. Also, make sure the insulation is flat, evenly distributed, and securely in place to achieve its maximum potential
- Fit back the odd shapes into the wall and continue doing so until you finally get a tall, straight opening. You can nail or staple in the insulation if necessary
- Proceed to measure and cut the batts to the desired sizes and shapes. Select one corner as your starting point and work your way of insulation around the garage
- Fill up all emerging gaps with small well cut insulating materials and, if necessary, add a vapor barrier
The Garage Door
- Begin by measuring your garage door
- Purchase a garage door insulation kit and follow the instructions provided in the menu
- Check out our article on how to insulate a garage door.
- Before beginning your installation, start by preparing a sturdy and a secured scaffolding, ladder, platform, or stilts set. Proceed to install baffles into the eave spaces to provide ventilation within the ceiling and prevent damages caused by moisture
- Proceed to measuring, cutting, and installing small or odd spaces. Ensure you measure the stud spaces to be used and cut the batts or rolls according to the measurements
- Begin installing the batts or rolls into the ceiling while pushing the insulation up into the joists before pulling it back to fit and cover the spaces evenly. Ensure all edges are flush with no visible gaps. If you notice any gaps, fill them by cutting custom pieces of insulation. Finish by stapling the facing of the insulation into the joints to fasten them in place. However, stapling is necessary when coding is a necessity
- Notably, always keep the insulation at least 4 to 6 inches away from any light sources to prevent fire accidents.
- For more tips on ceiling insulation, click here.
Exposed Insulation in Your Garage
Insulation, while extremely useful, is a material that needs to be handled with care. If you are DYI-ing your project, make sure you finish the job. That is, add some drywall or paneling to cover those batts. It can be easy to run out of steam when undertaking a huge make-over like this one. But take our word for it, this is one project that is essential to finish – and to finish correctly! Remember you just put on all this protective gear to keep you safe during installation. It would be ridiculous to get it half-way and then take all the gear off to go on with business as usual. Continue to protect yourself and your family members by getting it done.
The Dangers of Exposed Insulation
How risky is exposed insulation? Below are the health concerns connected to exposed insulation.
- Eye irritation: Particles from the insulation can get into your eyes.
- Lung irritation: Whenever you insulate using fiberglass, its particles can find their way into your breathing system and may cause severe respiratory risks.
- Skin irritation: These insulations contain chemicals and can cause a reaction if they come into contact with your skin. When you finish insulating, collect, and dispose wastes correctly to prevent harmful chemicals’ release upon decomposition.
Covering Exposed Insulation in your Garage
Since you will be spending more time in your garage if you convert it to a garage gym, or get a new table saw, or even do your laundry near where you park the cars, below are some solutions to enhance your safety.
- You can install sheetrock or paneling over the insulation
- The insulation can be sealed using a poly membrane
- You can also use a fire-retardant foil to cover batts that are left exposed in the garage
- Using fiberglass insulation and maintaining your garage’s air quality is a top priority, use a plastic vapor barrier
- You can paint the unfrequented surfaces and exposed to fiberglass insulation and electrical wires
Insulation should be done thoroughly to avoid future problems or unnecessary accidents. Be organized while working and follow the laydown plan to avoid wastage of resources. Ensure that you have the right equipment and protective gear and insulation for the job. And if all of this is too daunting, you can also hire a professional to do the job for you. Whichever route you choose, you will be able to enjoy a garage with a more finished look and a more efficient, comfortable space to work and play in.