Insulation: Do’s & Dont’s For Your Steel Building

Today’s blog topic will focus on Steel Buildings 101, an often overlooked component of a building envelope, yet one of the most important considerations when planning your overall project, a part of the puzzle, that if done right will pay dividends down the road, or lead to conditions in the building that will wish you had planned better.  

Insulation… it keeps us warm, it keeps us cool, but how much do we ever really think about this stuff when pricing out our buildings, especially in the beginning stages of discovery.

Insulation and Your Steel Building

We all know what insulation does, we know what it’s made of, but how does it relate to a steel structure?  

One of the mistakes 1st time builders and customers make is to not account for the correct type of insulation for their needs.  What part of the country / world are you building? What type of climate control do you need for the activities inside your structure? How comfortable do you need to be?  What are the local building codes requiring?

All good questions. At a minimum, it is wise to know that a steel structure insulation needs to be correctly sized for the roof system being implemented.  For example: If you are going with a screw down roof, an R-19 or 6’’ batt insulation system can suffice, depending on your needs and local building codes. A simple R-19 system is good at deflecting heat of the summer, and will help keep some heat in during the winter, but is it enough to give you the atmospheric control you really desire inside your structure?  Yes price is a factor, but without an economic lesson we all know that perhaps spending a little more money now ends up saving dividends down the road.

Other Factors to Consider

If you desire or are required to use a standing seam roof, it is important that an R-38 system, or a 12’’ thick insulation is required. Why?  If a standing seam system is implemented, and the owner chooses only an R-19 (6’’ thick) system, there will be a void between the insulation and the bottom of the roof deck that can cause a “weather condition” between the insulation and roof deck, leading to condensation, mold and loss of thermal control, not to mention possibly against building code which can delay or prevent final inspections by local jurisdictions.  

Conversely, if an R-38 system is considered with a screw down roof (roof directly attached to the roof framing members), then the thickness of the insulation will be compressed, and loss of true R-Value will occur, again affecting performance and possibly raising a situation with local ordinances.

There is also other factors to consider such as the insulation facing type (the surface you see inside your building when you look up).  There are literally dozens of types of facing from foil, to low visibility, to athletic facing to the standard white depending on your needs.

In this blog we’ve talked mainly about roof insulation, however, the same can be said for your wall systems.  Talk with your Solid Steel Buildings Solutions manager today to discover all there is to know about properly insulating your building envelope, and let’s get building together!