When you need to control the temperature inside your steel building, you must install insulation. If your building is used for cold storage, then it must be insulated to maintain a temperature cooler than the exterior. In cold climates, you will also need to use insulation when you want to maintain a warm temperature. Different buildings have different uses and requirements, so not every metal building will require insulation, but most will see extensive benefits from its use.

If you want to save money on heating and cooling or live in an region with significant temperature changes (like many regions in Canada), insulation for your Canadian metal building might be an idea worth considering. Insulation is crucial if you want your building to be long-lasting and serve its purpose for many decades.

Steel building insulation not only helps maintain normal working interior temperatures, but it also helps prevent condensation by creating a barrier throughout the walls and roofs of your steel building. Condensation can create a lot of problems for your prefabricated steel building, so you need to make sure you make every effort to prevent moisture buildup from happening.

In this article, we will review the science behind steel building insulation design, introduce our insulation vendor partner, and explain some of the insulation options available to you for your steel building.

Metal Building Interior - Note the Vapor Barrier on the Steel Girts

Metal Building Interior – Note the Vapor Barrier on the Steel Girts

How Does Steel Building Insulation Work?

Traditional construction generally requires that insulation is installed between the studs. But when insulating a steel building, the insulation is commonly installed above or to the exterior of the framing. This location not only provides more continuous protection, but it also prevents the transfer of heat and moisture in between the framing, exterior roof, and wall panels.

Insulation is recommended for your steel building if you want to control heat flow, prevent condensation, and control noise. Insulation helps to slow the movement of heat, keeping it inside your building when it is cold outside. During the summer, insulation does the opposite, keeping heat outside. The heat transfer rate throughout the steel building is controlled, also reducing energy usage and costs.

If you choose insulation with bright and/or reflective facing, your insulation can even increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your building’s lighting. Insulation can also help to dampen noise by absorbing sound reverberations. The vapor barrier of blanket insulation also helps prevent the formation of condensation by blocking the passage of water vapor. This prevents the vapor from condensing onto the interior building surface or dampening your insulation. Once insulation becomes damp it looses virtually all of it’s insulation value so make sure you design your building to avoid condensation.

Depending on your building’s location, type, and use, you may need to install insulation in your ceilings, your roof, and in your walls. If your region experiences varying weather patterns, insulating the walls will prevent condensation and other issues that come from heavy snow and other weather conditions.

What is a Vapor Barrier and Why Is It So Important?

A vapor barrier is exactly what the name infers. Often referred to as a facing, a vapor barrier is a protective covering that prevents or slows the flow of moisture through the insulation it is attached to. A low permeance indicates a high-quality vapor barrier. Vapor barriers are also generally required to be fire retardant. Contact us if you have any questions.

Our Insulation Vendor Partner

Global Steel Buildings proudly partners with Silvercote for its innovative custom insulation solutions and systems. For over 80 years, Silvercote has been a leading provider of high-quality insulation materials in North America. They offer a range of materials and insulations materials for every purpose, with many of their offerings especially suited for steel buildings. Learn more about your insulation options below.

What are my Steel Building Insulation Options?

There are other insulation systems available, but these two systems are easily the most practical and cost-efficient for steel buildings. Our installers are intimately familiar with these systems, which are easy and straightforward to install.

Fiberglass Blanket Insulation (also known as faced metal building insulation)

This is the least expensive and most popular method for insulating metal buildings. Familiar to homeowners, contractors, and DIYers alike, it comes in rolls of blanket-like material. While fiberglass blanket insulation can be installed as a retrofit (after building is erected), we recommend installing this insulation while the building is being erected which ensures professional installation and that all of the safety precautions required are implemented. You must wear a mask and additional protective clothing because fiberglass tends to shed fine, loose fibers, which can cause pain and even a rash even you’re not careful.

Because fiberglass blanket insulation is a soft batting, it sometimes attracts bugs, rodents, or birds, which nest in the insulation. The insulation may also absorb moisture. For this reason, insulation designed specifically for metal buildings is almost always provided with a protective facing or vapor barrier.

Not only do these facings and/or barriers provide protection against many concerns, but they also add a smooth and finished appearance to the inside of your building. Facings are typically offered in a variety of styles and colours to suit your requirements, some of which have specific, additional benefits like lighting efficiency or energy saving.

Energy Saver FP™

The Energy Saver FP™ system from Silvercote is made up of a network of straps (white painted galvanealed banding), bright white support fabric and fiberglass blanket insulation. The Energy Saver FP fabric is durable and resistant to tears while concealing the insulation’s secondary structural supports, providing a smooth, bright surface.  Each piece of the support fabric is custom-made to fit a specific location in or on a building. The fabric is fastened to the underside of the roof framing and is supported by the banding. Fiberglass insulation then is installed above the fabric in different thicknesses depending on your desired insulating values.

The triple layer system is an ideal way to fill the additional cavities from larger roof purlins or can be used with standing-seam clips as supplied by some building manufacturers.  Most industry experts believe that the space between the fabric and the panels should be completely filled with insulation in order to avoid potential condensation problems.  Featuring a .015 permeance rating, seamless installation, and minimal penetrations, the Energy Saver FP system offers excellent thermal isolation from secondary structural steel to help prevent these condensation issues.

FP stands for Fall Protection, which speaks to the OSHA-compliant leading edge fall protection provided by this insulation, which protects the installation crew while the building is insulated and roofed.  Energy Saver FP has excellent installed thermal performance and fire performance, with both the fiberglass insulation and Energy Saver FP fabric featuring a FHC 25/50 flame spread and smoke development rating per ASTM E-84.

Solar Guard

SolarGuard reflective insulation greatly reduces radiant heat gain. SolarGuard’s barriers consist of a highly reflective material that reflects radiant heat rather than absorbing it. SolarGuard is effective used alone or in conjunction with fiberglass batts for optimal thermal performance.  Because of its radiant barrier, this type of insulation is a great option for condensation control for Mini-Storage metal buildings and cold storage steel buildings.  It is also bird and rodent resistant, and fiber-free, as its inner core of fiberglass is encapsulated.

Why Should I Insulate My Steel Building?

When you install proper insulation in your metal building, you can muffle sound from interior equipment or activity as well as exterior noise such as rain, hail, traffic, or heavy machinery. Insulation can save energy and, therefore, potentially reduce your energy bills.  While it’s important to keep the interior temperature comfortable in your building, you should also insulate a steel building to prevent moisture from invading the structure through condensation. Condensation becomes a problem when your building’s inside temperature and the temperature outside are significantly different, and the problem doesn’t stop there.

It’s relatively easy to see some condensation, but you may be missing the real issue.  Visible condensation occurs on surfaces as water, ice or frost, which you can see on vapor barriers, insulation, cold water pipes, skylights, and cooling ducts.  Concealed condensation is more destructive than visible condensation and harder to address.  You will have concealed condensation when moisture seeps inside your building and condenses on a surface that has a temperature at or below the dew point.

As the moisture from condensation accumulates, mold and mildew will begin to grow, which can be a serious health concern for people with allergies or respiratory problems. If you fail to keep up with proper building maintenance practices, it can and will result in this moisture causing corrosion and rust.  Rust caused by condensation can be one of the biggest threats to your steel building long-term. Your building’s structural integrity can be severely compromised if rust is allowed to form around your building’s connections, bolts and screws.

Clearly it is so important that you insulate your metal buildings, no matter what climate you live in.  Insulation significantly improves your return on investment for Canadian metal buildings, protects the health of those who use the building, and keeps your buildings in great condition longer.  If you are interested in learning more about our insulation options and the right insulation for your Canadian steel building, reach out to us now!