Insulating a garage makes sense if you’re planning to heat the space. When it comes to choosing materials, you can use the same types of insulation used on the rest of the house, but some are better than others, depending on whether the garage is finished or not.
You also want to insulate the garage door, which has different installation requirements than walls or ceilings.
If you’re planning on heating or cooling your garage, you need to have as much insulation as you can. We’ve talked before about the need to insulate your garage door and walls, but what about the ceiling?
Usually, we recommend having insulation on any wall exposed to the outside, but there are a couple of times when it’s critical.
If you have living space above your garage or a roof that traps the heat, then insulating your garage ceiling is a no-brainer.
But is insulating your garage ceiling right for you? Garage Storage Solutions features an innovative wall system with heavy-duty sliding wall components such as hooks, garage shelving and stylish, durable steel cabinets designed to hold your gear securely and neatly in place.
The Benefits Of Insulating Your Garage Ceiling
Insulating your garage ceiling has several benefits, and you don’t have to spend loads of money on seeing them.
Here are what we think are some of the most important ones:
Insulation is the only way to keep the heat out: Your garage is the most considerable non-insulated space in your house.
Heat rises: If you have living space above your garage as we do, that heat will go straight through your garage ceiling into the floor above.
In the summer, that can quickly increase the overall temperature by several degrees. So naturally, that adds to your air conditioning bill, especially if you’re using a portable air conditioner.
Insulation is an excellent sound barrier: Whether you use your garage for making music, storage, parking cars, or working out, a little less noise-deadening insulation will be perfect for everyone else in the house.
Insulation often raises the value of a home: Having a well-insulated home can often mean the difference between a potential buyer choosing your home or your neighbour’s.
It might be simple, quick, and cheap, but it’s nice to move into a home that already has insulation.
Increases the life of the roof and the floor above it: Drastic temperature changes can expand and shrink the wood and drywall in your home.
To us, that’s more than enough reasons to insulate the roof of your garage.
Better yet, many homeowners who’ve completed the project point to this as one of the cheapest home modifications that you can make.
Garage Insulation Basics
It pays to insulate your garage if you’re adding heat, whether on a permanent or as-needed basis. If you’re not adding heat, there’s little point in protecting.
It’s a popular misconception that insulation adds warmth. In reality, insulation merely slows heat transfer through the insulated barrier (wall, ceiling, or floor), suitable for hot and cold climates.
Some say that insulating an unheated garage attached to the house may offer an additional thermal buffer between the exterior of the home and the outdoors.
But no state requires this as part of an energy-efficiency mandate. It’s also unlikely that this minimum improvement in energy transfer will offset the costs of adding extensive insulation.
However, the walls that are shared with the house should always be insulated to their maximum value.
It’s also important to realise the value of air sealing in conjunction with insulation. Garages typically aren’t built to be airtight and have lots of air gaps to the outdoors.
You can insulate the garage’s walls, ceiling, and door to the highest R-value (the higher the R-value number, the better the material’s insulating effectiveness) possible, but if you fail to fill those remaining air gaps, you’ll still be wasting a lot of heat.
So, before insulating, go around the garage with a can of low-expanding spray foam and seal all gaps and cracks that let in the daylight.
Waiting to do this after the insulation is installed tends to be a messy job. Also, make sure weatherstripping along the bottom of the garage door, window, and door frames are intact to seal off drafts.
Types Of Insulation For Your Garage
It pays to insulate your garage if you’re adding heat, whether on a permanent or as-needed basis. If you’re not adding heat, there’s little point in protecting. It’sUnfortunately, it’s a popular misconception that insulation adds warmth.
In reality, insulation merely slows heat transfer through the insulated barrier (wall, ceiling, floor, etc.).
There is a school that maintains that an unheated garage attached to the house may benefit from insulating the walls and ceilings of the garage since it theoretically offers an additional thermal buffer between the exterior of the home and the outdoors.
But no state requires this as part of energy-efficiency mandates, and it is unlikely that this minimum improvement in energy transfer will offset the costs of extensive insulation.
The walls that are shared with the house, however, should be insulated to their maximum value.
It’s also important to realise the value of air-sealing in conjunction with insulation. Garages typically aren’t built to be airtight and have lots of air gaps to the outdoors.
You can insulate the garage’s walls, ceiling, and door to the highest R-value possible, but if you fail to fill those air gaps, you’ll still be wasting a lot of heat.
So before insulating, go around the garage with a can of low-expanding spray foam and seal all gaps and cracks that let in the daylight. (Of course, your garage door is essentially a gigantic air gap when it’s open, but that’s another matter.)
Also, make sure weatherstripping along the bottom of the garage door and window and door frames are intact to seal against drafts.
Fibreglass is the most commonly used type of insulation in garages (just as it’s the most popular type in homes). It’s sold in precut batts and long blankets that fit between wall studs and ceiling joists.
You can also get loose-fill fibreglass suitable for blowing into a garage attic space above a finished ceiling.
If the walls and ceiling will remain open (not covered with drywall or plywood), it’s a good idea to use paper-faced or encapsulated fibreglass bats that are wrapped in a plastic film.
These will give the walls a slightly more finished look, and you won’t have the itchy fibres of the insulation exposed and ready to catch dust at all times.
Cellulose is loose-fill insulation that is growing in popularity. Made primarily from recycled newspapers and treated with a fire retardant, cellulose is usually blown into wall and ceiling cavities with a particular blowing machine that also aerates the cellulose and fluffs it up.
Blowers can be rented at many tool rental stores, and home centres will sometimes loan you a free one if you buy your cellulose from them.
Because it’s loose-fill, cellulose is suitable only for finished garage walls and ceilings. However, if the garage is already finished (but uninsulated), you can install cellulose by cutting strategic holes in the wall material, spraying the insulating into the cavities between framing members, then patching the holes.
Rigid Foam Insulation
Rigid foam comes in 4 x 8-foot sheets and thicknesses of 1/2 inch to 4 inches. The most common materials include expanded polystyrene (similar to Styrofoam), extruded polystyrene, and polyisocyanurate.
Rigid foam offers a high R-value per inch of thickness and can be cut to fit almost any space. It’s a good choice for thin walls and insulating garage doors.
If you’re turning the garage into a living space or a full-time workspace and want to insulate the floor, one option is to use rigid foam covered in plywood or other subfloor material.
Note: Check the fire rating on rigid foam; some types are not fire-resistant and unsuitable for sensitive applications.&
Spray Foam Insulation
Spray foam is excellent for both R-value and air-sealing. Unfortunately, as a high-end material typically used for energy-efficient construction, spray foam is overkill for most garage projects. But it might make sense if you’re converting the garage to living space.
How To Insulate A Garage Ceiling
If you’re the DIY type, we want to give a little overview of how you’d go about adding insulation to your garage ceiling.
This isn’t meant to be a ‘how-to’ guide. Instead, think of it as an excellent way to determine if you’re up to doing this project on your own or if you should hire a professional.
First, let’s take a look at some of the stuff you’ll need. Garage Storage Solutions’ smart wall storage system (hooks, racks, baskets and shelves) can be used in unlimited configurations and be adjusted over time as your requirements change. They are making it a perfect investment for your garage.
Tools And Materials
Before you get started, you’ll need to gather a handful of supplies. Insulating your ceiling can be finished in a day, but we still recommend having a helping hand or two.
This can be spray foam, insulation batts, cellulose, injection foam, or whatever another type of insulation you prefer.
There are pros and cons to each, so make sure you do your research before you pick the cheapest option—humidity, temperature, and packing all change the effectiveness of each material.
This will vary depending on whether you have a ceiling in your garage and its type. Expect to need cordless screwdrivers, cordless drills and a hammer.
An A-frame ladder or scaffolding: Scaffolding is always a safer choice, but it can be a bit pricey for such a quick and easy job. Another option is to rent some scaffolding from your local big-box store.
Safety Goggles, Gloves, And Long-sleeve Clothing
Regardless of which material you choose, itchiness and irritation are common side effects. We also recommend grabbing a safety mask to prevent fibreglass from entering your lungs.
A vapour barrier is a plastic or foil sheet that helps block moisture from collecting where you don’t want it. Without it, mould and bacteria can form throughout the garage, including inside of the insulation. Once mould starts to grow, you’ll have to rip out everything and start over again.
Once you’ve got all the materials that you need, it’s time to get started.
Remove everything from inside your garage: Insulation is messy, and you don’t want to get any of it on your valuables. Also, fibreglass tends to get caught in weird spaces!
Locate all electrical boxes: Make sure that they have room to heat up without causing a fire hazard. There should be plenty of space around all wiring and other electrical parts.
Install the vapour barrier by stapling it into place: Remember that it is just as important as the insulation. If there’s any condensation or mould on the surface, remove it before you install the barrier.
Place insulation snugly against walls and rafters: Batt insulation can be moved left to right, front to back, or any other direction as long as it doesn’t overlap. If you overdo spray foam, you can cause gaps in the insulation. Most importantly, never allow gaps or spaces between any insulation.
Methods For Insulating Garage Doors
Among the solutions, some homeowners try to apply standard batt insulation to the inside face of the door.
Another method is to spray foam insulation on the inside surface—the same kind of insulation sometimes rushed against roof sheathing from the inside to improve the R-value in an attic.
But garage doors are meant to function. They need to open and close regularly, often hanging or folding at several different points.
So neither batt insulation nor spray foam insulation is going to work well on the garage door.
Even if you find products designed for application against a garage door, the constant movement of the garage door will eventually cause them to flake, pull apart, and fail—which means that you’re looking at insulating your door again and again. This is hardly cost-effective over the long haul.
If you intend on an energy-efficient garage door, a better alternative is to purchase a garage door that is already insulated.
Rather than a metal door, which conducts heat and cold easily, choose a fibreglass door with a foam core, which will help stop some of the energy loss from the garage.
If you’re planning on replacing your garage door, looking into an insulated model is probably a good idea.
But it probably does not make financial sense to replace an otherwise good garage door with an insulated model for the energy savings potential.
Insulate The Rest Of The Garage Instead
Garage door insulation is of limited value anyway, given the other areas of the garage that are equally problematic in terms of heat loss.
Your garage floor is probably built on a slab, which means that it isn’t insulated and is an ongoing source of energy transference.
If your garage has concrete walls, these, too, are constant sources of heat transference. If you take the time and spend the money to insulate the entire garage, you may well be disappointed by seeing a very minimal improvement in your energy bills.
Rather than attempting to insulate the garage door and other components of the garage itself, a much more practical solution is to focus your attention on the boundary walls between the main house and the attached garage.
Put insulation into the garage ceiling so it helps stop the loss of energy to space above, where it may connect to the house attic.
Make sure there is plenty of insulation on the interior wall of the garage—the wall shared with the house itself.
By doing so, even if the temperature fluctuates inside the garage, it won’t significantly affect the temperature inside your home or raise your energy bills.
Speak to us if you’re looking for garage storage solutions in Melbourne.
While most contractors will tell you to insulate the transfer points from the garage to the house itself, there are still times when you may want to protect further the garage door, as well as the walls and floor of the garage.
If you use your garage as a living space rather than as a storage area for cars and other items, then you may be heating or cooling the area anyway, and the garage door may not operate much.
In this instance, it does make sense to maximise the R-value of the walls, floors, ceiling, and garage door.
This can be true of both attached garages and those that are detached and separate from the house.
If you are supplying supplemental heat or air conditioning to a detached garage, you’ll want to make every aspect of the garage as energy-efficient as possible.
It has been shown that an energy-efficient R-18 garage door can keep the garage space about 12 degrees warmer in the winter months and about 25 degrees cooler in summer.
But remember that an energy-efficient double garage door costs somewhere between $1500 and $2000, so it will take considerable time to pay back the door’s cost in terms of energy savings.
And it only makes sense for spaces where the garage door won’t be opened routinely to break the energy envelope.
Another option where the garage will be used for living space is to insulate the door with a garage door insulation kit available at home centres.
There are two types of kits usually available. A vinyl-faced fibreglass batting kit provides a decent R-8 insulating value for the door; two kits will cover a standard 16-foot wide garage door.
This type of soft insulation is taped to the inside surface of the door.
Another option is to buy precut expanded polystyrene (EPS) rigid foam panels and apply them to the door.
The panels are cut to length and snapped into the space between the horizontal rails on the door panels. This type of kit provides an insulating value of roughly R-4.
Most people think of improving energy efficiency in terms of adding insulation. Still, the reality is that a significant degree of heat loss occurs because of air gaps where drafts arise.
Insulating a garage will be of limited value if door gaskets, window weatherstripping, and other air gaps are still providing places for air to flow.
Permanently seal these areas when you are addressing the energy efficiency of a garage.
So, Is It Worth It?
Is insulating a garage worth the investment? Admittedly, it isn’t the best bet for reducing the cost of your energy bill, but we don’t suggest throwing the idea entirely out the window.
You can make other changes to your garage that will be pretty helpful, such as putting up a storm door on the garage door that goes into the house.
You can also block or weatherstrip the garage doors and windows. Don’t close off your garage so much that exhaust fumes can’t escape, however.
If you use your garage as storage for your cars and other items, you’re probably better off leaving the door alone and insulating the ceiling of your garage and the walls that are shared with the home instead.
If you use your garage as a living space, however, it’s probably worth your while to insulate the door and other elements of the garage. Make your decision based on your lifestyle and needs. Garage Storage Solutions has a range of easy-to-install storage options to help transform your garage from a dull storage room to an organised space that’s there to be utilised!