Frequently Asked Shed Insulation Questions

by John Coupe

Shed Insulation FAQ – I get asked a lot of questions about shed insulation and so I have pulled them together onto one page for you to browse. Hopefully, you can find an answer to your question in amongst these.

If not please visit my Shed Questions page and ask away.

My only request before you do this is to take the time to submit several pictures and write a good summary your problem. I am keen to help but if I just get a one-liner saying - “I need some help with my shed roof!” it takes a lot longer to help you get to the root of the problem and find a solution.

I look forward to hearing from you if you don’t find an answer to your question below:

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Shed Insulation

by Neil
(North Carolina)

I have a 10x16 shed I recently built. Its 2x4 wall and roof construction and its built raised up off the ground sitting on solid concrete blocks. As an afterthought I am considering insulating it to make it a bit more habitable this winter as I have a small wood shop in it. I also built a little play area for my kids in the loft area of the shed.

So, my question is how would I go about insulating it to make it a bit more comfortable this winter for me and the kids? I am thinking of just using a small oil filled electric heater to keep it from being so cold in there.


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by: John

Hi Neil,
Thanks for your question. The first part to answer is to give you an idea of the thickness of insulation that you need to make your shed comfortable. To give you an idea of the task I have listed below indicative thicknesses that you could use as a starting point in the walls, floor and roof.

2 inches (50mm) will give you some protection from the cold but you will still need significant input from your oil filled heater. This thickness of insulation would be more of a ‘season extender’ than a solution to making the shed comfortable in winter.

4 inches (100mm) of insulation in the walls would fill the void in your wall between your 2x4 timbers. This would give you a good bit of heat retention but you will also need to limit the size of openings in the shed such as doors and windows. Make sure that the door is exterior quality to better retain heat and that the windows are double glazed.

8 inches (200mm) Now we are talking! This thickness of insulation will keep you and your kids warm in the depths of winter.

The thickness of insulation is just the start. As some materials are better insulants than others. For example, Polyurethane has an R-value that is approximately 30% higher than Rockwool or Sheeps wool which are other common insulation materials.

You will also need to consider ventilation of the shed to allow some of the warm moist air to escape. Also, design in a vapour barrier to the inside face of the building to stop some of the warm and moist air from escaping and initiating condensation on the colder external parts of the building.

This condensation from escaping moisture can cause significant problems with rotting of timber frames if is allowed to escape and the external void is not ventilated.

I hope that this gives you a good start. Insulation will enable you to get a lot more enjoyment out of your building but make sure you do your research particularly with regards to vapour check membranes and cold bridging.

These articles will help you with more information on shed insulation:

This article is a good introduction into insulating a shed

This article gives more details of the properties of different insulating materials

This article is a case study of someone upgrading the insulation in their shed from Rockwool to polyurethane foam boards. And also the heating costs that he hoped to save


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Insulating a 16'x10' Shiplap Shed

by Mark

Hi there, I'm just in the process of buying a 16x10 shiplap shed with a steel roof. I have a couple of questions:

1.What insulation for walls -thickness and type

2 What material to cover the insulation -plywood plasterboard and what thickness on the walls

3.What thickness of insulation on floor and what to cover insulation and what thickness

4 I'm thinking of using pvc windows instead of single pane supplied - are they difficult and successful to fit to a timber shed?

5 Thank for your time in reading this

this building is situated in Ireland where cold and damp come from. ;-)

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by: Lindsay

I just finished insulating my 10 ft X 16 ft from the ground up shed. It is on 16 in centers on the walls and 24 inch centers on the roof. I used fiberglass batting R-13 on the walls and R-19 on the ceiling. It is very warm in the winter with just a small space heater.

Be sure to insulate the doors also.

I plan on adding a small AC when summer arrives. In your area, you might want to consider insulating under the shed with some type of rigid insulation.

My shed is no longer "the shed", but has now become "the shop".


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Insulating a shed to keep heat out

by Otto Go
(Antelope, Ca)

I just got an 8x12 Yardline shed built and I want to insulate the inside the keep it cooler inside for the hot summers here in Roseville Ca. What are some tips, I wanted to know if going through the process of insulating will even help keep it cooler?? Please advise? It is 2x4 construction


Hi Otto,
Thanks for your question. I can think of three low-cost techniques for limiting the heat gain in a shed:

The first is to make the outside of the shed as light a colour as possible so that it reflects the suns heat. This can take the form of painting the outside of the shed a light colour, white or light pastel shades would work well.

Roofs coverings are often dark (thinking of felt shingles here) and absorb heat. Shingles have an impregnated mineral on the surface to help reflect the heat. But this isn’t too effective and the minerals become detached over time.

The roof that I would recommend would be a silver metallic roof which is about as reflective of heat and light as you can get!

You could instal this on top of the plywood/shingles that you already have with an air gap beneath. This should prevent a fair amount of heat absorption.

The second technique would be to install a radiant barrier. This is effectively a sheet of tough aluminium foil that reflects the heat from the sun back out rather than allowing it into the building. This can be fixed to the inside of the walls and roof. Speak to a local builders merchant to see what is used locally.

The third item that you should investigate would be ventilation. Make sure that you have vents at the base and also at the highest point of the roof (at each end). The vents will allow cooler air from ground level in and allow the warmer air at roof level to escape. Having vents on opposing sides of the building will allow the building to benefit from any small breezes.

Dependent on how you intend to use the shed then having doors and windows open to enable the heat to escape would help too. (With shades over the door and window to stop the sun/heat entering).

The first of the three items are quite passive in their implementation and once installed will keep on working without further input.

I think that I would only install insulation if you were looking to actively cool the building with an air-con unit. If you were to follow this route then the buildings colour and the radiant barrier would still be effective. However, you would then want the building to be as airtight as possible to stop cool air escaping, so I would re-consider the vents.

The thickness and type of insulation would depend on the outside temperature and the temperature that you wished to achieve.

I hope that this helps to progress your thoughts and that you have found it useful.



PS. It would be great if you could send me a picture of your shed. (did you mean a Heartland Shed? Or Hardline?)

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My Yardline shed
by: Otto

Hi, its a yardline shed bought through Costco, l just painted it a light grey color and the roof was a lighter color shingles.
I was thinking of radiant barrier, and wall insulation, just wondering if it will help, summers get hot about 112 degrees sometimes.

by: John

112 degrees is Hot!

I can't see insulation helping to keep the shed cool. With small buildings such as sheds insulation only really slows down heat loss (or gain in your case). So the insulation helps if you have a relatively airtight building and are heating or cooling. But for actually keeping the building as cool as you can the insulation won't help.

The light grey colour and light colour shingles sound to be the right choice. The radiant barrier will help, but in the end the air temperature inside the shed will be the same as outside.

Having a roof over the top of the roof is one option that I mentioned earlier. I thought that you might like this picture giving an idea of what I mean. Don't know how this sort of thing goes down with your building/planning codes?

oak framed shed

But it would provide lots of shading in and around your shed.

Sending pics
by: Otto

I am not sure how to send pics since I don't see anywhere I can insert a photo?

by: John

You can email me directly.



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