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Old 09-25-15, 08:59 AM   #1
jeff5may
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Default How to insulate this outbuilding?

My cousin-in-law has a detached garage he wants to insulate. He has commissioned me to help and provide guidance. I need some expert opinions on how to approach this task, as the job at hand is rather strange.

The building is around 500 square feet, and originally was cinder block walls with a shingle roof. He had a garage door on one end. There was a drainage problem on his property where the rainwater was entering one side of the garage door and finding its way under the block wall on the other side. Eventually, the water undermined his footer and that corner sank, step-cracking the block wall and throwing the garage door off track.

The drainage issue was repaired, but the damage to the building was done. He and a few buddies jacked up the low corner, took out the block wall where it was damaged, poured a new footer, and built the garage-door side and the damaged block-wall side up again. Only this time, the repaired section was erected like a pole barn. The footer was re-poured, posts were set and tied into the existing roof, and the entire building was wrapped with steel siding. The garage door was deleted, and a steel slab door was installed in the uphill corner. While they were at it, the old shingles were torn off, new roofing felt was installed, and a steel roof was installed over horizontal purlins.

When I came over to look at his garage-shed, the first thing I looked for was housewrap or some sort of vapor barrier. Guess what? They didn't put none in. OOPS. I started to suggest re-doing the siding with tyvek underneath, and he wouldn't hear it. Whatever gets done is going to happen on the inside.

I was in there last week rewiring his electric service with a proper renovation panel that runs 220, as a previous jack-leg had the whole building running off a single 15 Amp 110 circuit, which previously served a well pump. He is lucky the place didn't burn down, as the original disconnect had pennies installed under the glass TL fuses!

Anyway, the reconstructed side gets afternoon and evening sun and acts like a hot plate, heating the entire interior to 110-120 degF on a sunny day. I hung a tarp from the roof gutter outside and put a 5000 btu window a/c in the first day I was there. Those two measures helped out immensely in staving off the summer sun.

He is a tool maker by trade and is maybe 8 years or less from retiring. He also does woodworking/cabinet/birdhouse building for hobbies and wants to put a drill/mill and a lathe and...and... in the building and use it for a tiny job shop. Climate control is imperative, as is running water. He is not a mechanical engineer, he is the go-to guy on the shop floor that just makes what the engineers can't figure out how to build work. All the planning and design work is being pushed my way.

What materials and methods would you all suggest to get my buddy a garage that doesn't cost him an arm and a leg to heat and cool? I mentioned a heat pump and/or solar-assisted solution and he is open to something in that direction.

Pics to follow....

EDIT: Pics of outside


Front door, garage door removed


Repaired wall, painters took down the tarp


Original rear and uphill side, wrapped with steel


Repaired footer with post bottoms showing


Last edited by jeff5may; 09-26-15 at 10:33 AM.. Reason: pics
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Old 09-25-15, 10:01 AM   #2
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Cut rigid iso to fit the stud spaces and spray foam the gaps to form a tight seal. This might help with the infiltration and counter some of the lack of a house wrap. Then fill the rest of the void with batts. Its labor intensive but cheaper than spray foam.
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Old 09-26-15, 10:45 AM   #3
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More pics:

Inside of front wall


Inside of repaired wall, front section

Inside of repaired wall, rear section


Inside of back wall


Back corner detail


Other back corner

As you can see, there are gaps and cracks everywhere. The repaired wall section was not even framed with wall studs properly. Luckily, cinder blocks are wider than posts.
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Old 09-26-15, 11:01 AM   #4
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More details of outside:


Front corner gaps


Back corner gaps


Power feed from well pump (above new disconnect/breaker panel)

If I spray foam these from the inside, the foam will surely bleed out of all the nooks and crannies, and be exposed to air and sunlight. Besides the fact that the great stuff degrades with UV exposure, I'm not trying to detail all these spots with a razor knife.
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Old 09-26-15, 02:09 PM   #5
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I have some overflow from basement penetrations that went outside my house and its been 3 years. The Great Stuff foam facing the outside got brown, brittle, and flakes off a little bit but its reasonably intact, stronger than I figured it would be. I imagine that with its sun age, if I just hit it with some 120 grit sandpaper or a putty knife I could have it even with the paint and then when I repaint over those spots it would seal and protect the underlying foam just fine and I don't think I'd even know the foam is there. I suppose hindsight I could have caulked those spots from the outside and then foamed from the inside but I don't think it matters that much. None of these spots were big enough to stuff backer rod in place.
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Old 09-27-15, 11:09 PM   #6
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I stopped by the big box stores today to see what they have in stock. The only size of polyiso they carry is half inch. They were both completely out of 1 inch xps, plenty of 2 inch in stock. They both had gobs and loads of fiberglass batts in stock.

Looks like we will be doing the roof first. Batts in between rafters, then something under the batts.

Anybody else have any idea on how to do the walls and eaves for good results? I am open to caulking the gaps from the outside, but I'm not sure that Alex or silicone will fill those gaps well over the long haul. Is there another good caulk that will seal well and bridge those big gaps? A carpenter at work said there is a new formulation of liquid nails that might do the job.

My cousin started talking about putting fiberglass right in behind the steel siding and stapling a vapor barrier to the inside. It took a minute for him to understand that he has no framing behind the purlins they installed flush to the load-bearing posts and siding. He was not happy when he figured out we need to frame those two walls before insulating them.
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Old 09-29-15, 08:04 PM   #7
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If you think that shed is drafty, you should see the house, garage, and barn I started working on... All three follow that build quality.
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Old 10-02-15, 08:53 PM   #8
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Well here we go. The first phase of the project will be just as gtojohn said. Spray foam and half inch blue xps to block in the eaves from the inside. No caulking the outside, Mr dude might put on soffit covers someday. Until then, 99 cent flat white he will spray. I have 3 or 4 sheets worth of blue and green xps scraps {freebie} to chop up.

The repaired section will get half inch rmax polyiso between the existing posts and purlins for a reflective surface and a vapor barrier. Then it will be framed up with wood and pink panther batts will be rolled into the cavities. Hopefully he won't run out of money by then and we can do the interior sheathing.

Last edited by jeff5may; 10-03-15 at 07:12 AM..
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Old 10-09-15, 08:13 AM   #9
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OK, so phase 1 is almost done. I found a bargain on the pro-size BOSS spray foam at the local indoor flea market for $3 a can. Played around with caulking the outside vs just filling from within and found that filling from within was way easier. I had plenty of half inch blue xps, so it went into the soffit block spaces directly after the spray foam. If I was rich, I would have just bought some big dog cylinders of foam and a pro gun. The job would have went much cleaner and faster. Chopping styrofoam into little pieces and icing each crevice like a cake is rather sloppy and time consuming.

Corner pics:




Some of the larger outdoor gaps:

These leaked through a whole lot less than I thought they would, especially considering the barrier foam backing the inside.


Half inch polyiso was cut to fit and placed next to the steel wall sections with some airspace between the siding and the shiny side of the foam board. This will reflect the summer sun back outdoors and also act as a vapor barrier.


As you can see, we are in the process of mocking up a stud wall which will house the R13 fiberglass batts that will go in next.


Dude ran out of budget this week, so I am waiting for cash to buy seam sealing tape and a couple more boards to cover the remaining few feet of steel siding by the front door. Luckily, today is payday!

While I was over there, the neighbor he shares his driveway with had some work for me to do: we re-did his leaky porch roof. More importantly, he has treasure in his back yard, presently acting as a home for wasps:

Neighbor guy said since he saved so much money by having me diagnose his roof problems and leading his crew (scallywags and kids), he might just give it to me. He also works on hot rods, so he has torches and purge gas on site...
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Old 10-10-15, 10:39 AM   #10
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Out of curiosity, how does it feel in there? I bet the breeze doesn't just rip through there anymore. Probably quieter too. While the ceiling is open consider radiant barrier...on the cheap...Renolds Wrap Heavy duty $8 for 250 sqft. [IMG][/IMG]

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Last edited by gtojohn; 10-10-15 at 10:44 AM.. Reason: pic
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