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What Insulation Is Best for Metal Buildings?

If you recently purchased a warehouse, shed or other metal structure in Chicago, the quality of the insulation may not have occurred to you. However, if you want your building to last generations, you must make insulation a top priority. The question you might have is “What insulation is best for metal buildings?” You have a few options to choose from.

Why Do Metal Buildings Need Insulation?

All steel buildings apart from carports require an insulation package. There are several reasons why.

First, insulation helps to maintain a comfortable temperature inside the metal building, allowing it to retain warmth in the winter and cool air in the summer. This reduces heating and cooling costs to keep your expenditures low. It also prevents overworking your HVAC equipment, saving you on repair and replacement costs for years to come.

Insulation also reduces noise transfer through the metal walls. Perhaps most importantly of all, insulating a metal building creates a vapor barrier to prevent condensation that could lead to rust and corrosion of the metal walls and ceiling.

Types of Insulation for Metal Buildings

  • Fiberglass: Most commonly available in batts and rolls, fiberglass insulation is the most popular and inexpensive residential and commercial insulation material. Builders have trusted it for decades to keep buildings warm and comfortable. It works best if your metal building has a stud spacing of 16 to 24 inches. Batts with radiant barrier facings may be particularly beneficial for metal buildings. You can also find fiberglass as blown-in insulation to fill every crevice in the wall cavities.
  • Cellulose: This paper-based product is available as blown-in insulation. Recycled newsprint is treated with flame retardant and insect repellent to make it a viable insulating option. It can be applied using a moist-spray technique or dry-pack process, meaning this versatile option is likely to meet your building’s needs.
  • Spray foam: Often made from polyurethane, spray foam is applied wet and expands into thick, hard foam when it dries. Spray foam insulates better than fiberglass and cellulose, meaning you only need a thin layer to achieve the same R-value. It also has the added benefit of being an air barrier to seal rivets and other connections in your metal building.
  • Radiant barrier: One reason why metal buildings are so tricky to insulate is that they radiate tremendous amounts of heat through the roof. Radiant barrier is a reflective insulation consisting of an aluminum film that reflects 95 percent of the heat that comes through your metal building’s roof. The best place to install it is below the ceiling where it can reflect heat up and away from the occupied space below.

Where & How Much to Insulate a Metal Building

At the very least, you should insulate the roof of your metal building with a traditional insulation material and radiant barrier. With your location in Chicago, you should also insulate the walls, especially if snow can pile up on the outside and lead to condensation. The required insulation thickness ranges from about 2 inches for unoccupied storage facilities to 12 inches or more for occupied commercial spaces.

Insulate Your Metal Building in Chicago

If you’re not sure what insulation is best for your metal building, ThermaSeal / Lakeside Insulation can help you make the right decision. We install fiberglass, cellulose, spray foam and radiant barrier insulation to help you keep your metal building comfortable, free from rust and affordable to heat and cool.

If you have a metal building in Chicago that needs new or replacement insulation, please contact us to learn more about your options or to schedule the services you need.

Products We Install

Our team installs both batt and blown-in fiberglass insulation.


Help prevent mold and excessive moisture infiltration in homes you build with our waterproofing services.


At Thermaseal / Lakeside Insulation, we understand the role a floor plays within a building system by controlling sound and fire.

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