This is 9 Tips for Insulating a Detached Garage. A detached garage can make an excellent shop, but depending on the climate it might need a little bit of insulation in order to make it more comfortable to use. I’ll show you everything you need to know to make it hold temperature better. Enjoy.
Detached Garage Shops
A detached garage makes an excellent woodworking shop for a number of fantastic reasons. The number one reason is that it feels more like a dedicated shop. This is because it’s a freestanding building, and not attached to your house.
Most hobby woodworkers have a shop, which is typically in the garage or in the basement. These are great spaces to work, and never ever think that it’s not a good space, but it just has a different feeling.
Detached garage will feel more like a workshop, but you may end up needing to do a little extra work insulating the building. Thankfully this is pretty easy to do, and there are a lot of different methods to make it work.
Insulating Before Sheet Rock
By far the absolute best way to insulate the garage is to do it before the sheet rock goes up. In a case like this, you’ll either have to be building the detached garage or getting in there while the builders are putting up the structure.
The big advantage at this stage is you have full access to the insides of the walls without anything in your way. Once the sheet rock is up, your choices as far as insulation go down significantly, and your price goes up a little bit.
The big advantage to seeing the inside of the walls is that you can use standard sized rolled fiberglass insulation. This is the pink stuff that you see at the home stores, and it’s either in rolls or in flat bundles depending on which one you buy.
All you need to do is fill the spaces in between the studs with this insulating material, and you will be well on your way to a detached garage that doesn’t get super cold or super hot depending on the season.
Insulating After Sheet Rock
If you are trying to insulate after the sheet rock is up, or perhaps you are in a building that is already established, then you have to look at things a little differently. That’s OK though, because lots of old structures are insulated this way.
The number one product for you at this point is going to be foam insulation. The stuff applies by injection, and it’s an expanding foam that fills the gap in the wall. You can do it yourself, or you can have a professional come out and do it.
If you’ve never done this before, it makes sense to spend quite a bit of time studying to see if it’s something that you’re comfortable doing. If you’re not, then shop around for a reliable technician to insulate the walls with foam for you.
Cover the Walls With Insulating Materials
Another way to insulate, which is not the pretty version but it does work is to apply your insulation directly on top of the wall board. This is best if you have access to a large quantity of solid foam panels.
This is definitely not the “right way” to do the job, but I’ve seen several spaces where this is been used and it works really well. The basic notion is to apply foam panels all around the inside of the shop.
The foam is doing the same job that it would do at any other point in the structure, you just get to see it instead of having it covered up. Again, not the prettiest solution, but it is a solution that works.
Insulate the Door Against Drafts
After you’re done insulating the walls, it’s important to take a look at other places that can generate leaks. One of the biggest culprits is the door that lets you into the detached garage, but the fix is pretty easy.
Most of the time, contractors don’t pay nearly as much attention to access doors on areas of the house that they don’t feel are part of the living space. A service door on a detached garage is definitely one of those areas.
In this case, all you need to do is take a look at the weatherstripping and the kick at the bottom. Make sure that you’re getting a good seal on the sides, top, and bottom. This will eliminate drafts, and help keep your garage at a consistent temperature.
Another thing that you can do is simply replace the old stripping that’s in there. A fresh set of weatherstripping and a new kick sweep along the bottom to make a big difference. These are inexpensive too, and you can find them at any home-improvement store.
Better Windows and Insulation
The next area to take a look at is the windows in your shop. These tend to be sources of drafts as well, especially if they are old, or they were installed poorly. The fix is pretty easy, and if you don’t plan on opening them it’s even easier.
Take a look at the seals on your windows. There are several different options for weatherstripping, and sealing the air from passing through the different cracks and joints in the window system.
There’s also heavy plastic film that you can put over the entire window casing that effectively seals the area as well. This is easy to apply, but you won’t be able to open up the window in the future without taking it down.
If you’re not going to be using the windows any time soon other than allowing light to come through, then this type of sealer might be perfect.
See Also: A Beginners Guide to Woodworking
Insulate the Roll Up Door Really Well
Another area to look at is your roll up garage door. Most of these doors are thin metal, and they allow heat and cold to pass right through them. They are very poor insulators, and since they take up so much space they can change the temperature quite a bit.
Instead of allowing your garage door to rob your efficiency, look into foam blocks that attach into each one of the panels. These are essentially insulating foam squares that precisely fit each panel of a standard garage door.
You can also get these by making them yourself from a larger sheet of foam. You can save a lot of money doing it that way, though it does take a little bit more effort to cut a piece that fits precisely, and then jam it into place.
While you’re at it, look at how the garage door seals on the opening itself. If there are places where you can see light and feel a breeze, you need to adjust your weatherstripping.
Find All Your Cracks and Leaks
Look around your detached garage and find all of the different cracks and leaks. Depending on the age of the structure, you can have cracks, and open areas that allow the environment to come in and out.
None of these are good for insulation, so you need to address them right away. The fixes are many, but in general you can fill different cracks and openings with expanding foam, or caulk.
Pick up some filler and a caulking gun and go to work on the space. Fill all of your holes, and your detached garage will hold temperature a lot better.
Check the Ceiling and Attic Space
Most garages are not insulated on the top. This is the small area of which you would consider attic space that is above the part where the cars would be parked or in this case where your shop is located. Adding insulation can make a big difference.
Most of the time this is loose fill insulation, which is either blown in or distributed loosely on top of the ceiling. Depending on the type of insulation that you’re looking for, there are different depths that you have to place the insulation.
Take a look at the manufacture of the each individual product, and make a decision about how much you would need to buy to achieve the thickness level. Once you do, the insulation factor will make a big difference at maintaining your temperature.
You can also do a radiant barrier film that helps block the heat. Both are great options, and they are easy to install.
Heating and AC Units
Finally, all the insulation in the world doesn’t really make that much of a difference unless you have a way of heating and cooling at your detached garage. Without a method of changing the temperature, all the insulation is basically useless.
If you live in a cold area, you have a lot of different options for heating your shop. These can be anywhere from central air, to portable heating units, even a fireplace. Adding heat to the room when it’s cold out will raise the temperature, and your insulation will hold it in.
In contrast, if you live in a hot place, then look at options for cooling the air. These include central air-conditioning, and portable units. You can also do window units depending on how your garage is laid out.
Until you try to change the temperature of the room, the insulation really doesn’t matter. So, unless you’re planning on adding a way to maintain the temperature, don’t worry as much about the insulation.
Your Action Assignment
Now that you know all of these great ways to insulate your detached garage shop, it’s time to take action. Pick out at least one thing from the list and go do it.
After that, pick another. Once you fix the major problems in your garage, the place will hold air inside better, and hold temperature better too.
If you have any questions on these great ways to insulate a detached garage, please Post a Question in the Q&A Forum and I’ll be glad to help. Happy building.
- 20 Years Experience in Woodworking
- 7 Published Books Available on Amazon
- 750+ Helpful Posts Written
- 1 Million+ Words Published