How to Insulate a Shed to make it Greener

If you use your shed on a regular basis, it might be beneficial to insulate and damp proof it. Here’s how to insulate a shed so it’s more energy efficient.

how to insulate a shed

Depending on what your shed is made out of, it can be very easy to insulate and damp proof. If your shed is made out of brick, it will be far easier to insulate because it is already naturally more insulated than sheds made out of other materials. However, the most common shed material is wood. Knowing how to insulate a shed in this instance requires a little more thought and effort.

If your shed is only used for storage, damp proofing and insulating it probably isn’t too high on your list of priorities. However, dampness and excessive cold air can ruin things over time. If any electrical equipment is exposed to damp air, there’s a chance it could cease to function correctly, or at all.

Read on to find out how to insulate a shed if it’s made from the traditional wood.

Fit some higher quality flat roofing

Flat roofing has a notoriously short lifespan. Depending on the material it can warp and allow water to pool in several places during its life-span. Metal flat roofing is the longest lasting and most effective at waterproofing and insulating, but it’s incredibly expensive. The cheapest and most commonly bought option is felt flat roofing. If you don’t have the budget for the potential £100 per square metre of metal flat roofing, EPDM rubber or fibreglass is only marginally more expensive than felt and will provide much more protection for your shed from the elements.

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How to insulate a shed’s walls

Most commonly, fibreglass wool and polystyrene foam boards are used for shed insulation. You wouldn’t find much polystyrene insulation in the home as it wouldn’t be effective enough, but for a shed it is sufficient. Before applying it you should seal any areas of the shed which are likely sources of water seeping in, with either silicon foam or a breathable, waterproof membrane. Both fibreglass wool and polystyrene would not protect the shed cladding on their own should any water come through, and you’ll have wasted money on better insulation with no real green benefit. Rotten wood would obviously need to be replaced with new wood, which is something we would all hopefully want to avoid.

Because fibreglass is hazardous to humans, you will also need to buy something to go over the top of it. Fibreglass can be an irritant for your skin and for your lungs should you breathe around it for too long. The best thing to put on top of it is some solid wood sheets, but be prepared for a slightly reduced amount of room in the shed to accommodate this.

The process for applying polystyrene foam boards is much the same as for fibreglass, although the solid wood sheets are optional. You can still apply them to make the interior look more aesthetically pleasing, but if you’re not bothered about that then you can leave them out. Polystyrene foam boards are a safer material for you to apply yourself unprotected, so if you don’t want to pay for professional help this is the best option.

Almost fully protected

Once you’ve applied the silicon foam or membrane, insulation (either type) and solid wood sheets, your shed will be protected from both moisture and cold temperatures. You should be well on your way to creating a suitable environment to work in should you want to use your shed for that purpose. If not, there’s an even cheaper option which is only mildly effective at insulating a shed. Applying several layers of bubble wrap around the entire inside of your shed will keep it warm up to a point but not when winter comes around. While it’s better than nothing and the costs are almost non-existent, the benefits of bubble wrap are small and it’s definitely not a green option.

To protect the outside of the shed wall, you can coat it in waterproof paint or stain which is also breathable to allow water vapour from inside to escape. Traditional paint will crack over time and not provide any protection to the wood underneath. Regular maintenance will be needed.

How to insulate a shed floor

If the base of the shed walls are in contact with the ground you can expect it to be a source of damp from the get-go. You can install another DPC (Damp Proof Course) membrane to stop this dampness spreading to the rest of the shed. Additionally, you could consider fitting a fault floor on top of this with insulation in between. This will only reduce the amount of headspace by a small amount, probably only 2cm. The base of the shed is where most moisture can potentially come from, especially if it isn’t built on concrete. Damp proofing and insulating the shed floor is very important if you want to avoid having to do regular maintenance work to the entire shed.

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How to insulate a shed window and door

Insulating a shed door is exactly the same as the rest of the shed. Apply a waterproof membrane, insulation and wooden boards. However, for a window it’s a little more futile. With most standard wooden garden sheds, you’ll have a simple single glazed pane of glass for a window. While it’s impossible to do anything to the glass itself, you can make the boarders less likely to cause draughts. Apply some hardening foam along the edges of the window, or some liquid wool. Allow to dry and then cut away any large bits which look unsightly and which don’t add anything to the insulation. This is as good as it gets unfortunately and you’ll still probably have a very cold window that’s a source for condensation.

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If you have the finance for it, it would be quicker, easier and less of a hassle to build a brick shed and fit double glazed windows and a sturdier, more insulating door. This would be the better option in the long run as it will need far less work done to it to make it a habitable environment, and comparatively little maintenance. But if you just want a standard garden shed made of wood, the above techniques should make it less susceptible to damp and cold and allow it to last much longer than it would otherwise.

Image: Christine, jejoenjeM, Dystopos, Ian Haycox

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