Like most home owners who are lucky enough to own a house that has a garage attached. I found myself initially having grand plans to turn it into an awesome home gym or better yet a play room for the kids, maybe both?!
Years rolled by and like most, my garage turned into a dumping ground for old home projects, empty cardboard boxes and kids toys that my 2 little ones have out grown. So after a few months of self imposed mental pressure I decided it was time to make a change and upgrade my garage.
The first step it turns out was something I hadn’t even contemplated….insulation!
Should I insulate my garage? Yes, absolutely you should. Reasons for insulating you garage should include: improving your homes energy rating, protecting valuables in your garage, making the garage more comfortable for home gyms and offices. And many more!
In this article I’ll share the knowledge I’ve gathered when it came to insulating my garage. Hopefully by reading it, you’ll learn from my successes and mistakes. There’s a few gotchas I share that you should definitely avoid!
It depends on where you live!
First things first, before we even get started with discussing what’s the best approach to take and what insulation solutions there are on the market. It’s important to ask the question: Where do you live?
Don’t worry I’m not going to stalk you. What I mean to say is that if you live in a super temperate climate where the sun shines every day and it’s a steady 75 degrees Fahrenheit all year round. Then there’s really no need to insulate your garage at all. If that’s the case I’m jealous!! Speaking as an Illinois resident of 20 years.
If your place is like mine and you have a too few months of summer and some really cold winters then it absolutely makes sense to insulate your garage. As a general rule I’d say if you’re planning on spending any period of time in your garage and the thermometer goes below freezing then I’d highly recommend investing in some insulation.
So lets talk supplies….
What Type of Insulation Should I Use?
This is an interesting question and it’s heavily dependent on your budget. I found that the more you spend the easier your installation process was. However I also found out that the more you spend on insulation didn’t necessarily equate to better performance in terms of the amount of heat the insulation retained.
Rather than give you a bunch of different options, I think the best approach is to give you the 2 best approaches. The first being the absolute best option with quick installation and impressive thermal ratings and the second providing a similar level of thermal performance but trading ease of installation with a lower budget.
Ok, this is the easy pick for me. If you want the absolute best option then DRIcore SmartWall is the way to go. The great thing about this product is it’s an all in one solution. It’s designed for fast and easy installation. With an insulation value of R-16 which is more than suitable for a garage conversion.
The finish on the panels is really nice as well. Everyone I’ve asked about smartwall gives me the same response “it’s awesome!“
Here’s a few key points curtesy of Home Depot:
- DRIcore SMARTWALL provides an easier, quicker build versus conventional wood or steel construction methods
- When used with DRIcore subfloor, dramatically improves the quality of your living environment through cold and dampness protection
- Panels are tongue and groove and simply attach at the top to your floor joists and at the bottom to your subfloor using 2 in. x 2 in. lumber as your tracks
- Plain panel is the main panel to be used
- DRIcore SMARTWALL provides an R-16 insulation value
The downside to this approach is the cost which is around $75 for a 4in x 2ft x 8ft panel
Sheetrock with foam insulation board
This is probably a more traditional way of insulating your garage. It’s the same way you’d insulate your house. If you’ve ever seen a house being constructed you’ll remember that the general process involves adding insulation behind sheet rock.
Obviously the downside of this would be that you have to put up studding to support the sheet rock and then cram in the insulation behind it. This takes more time compared to the DRIcore approach.
The upside to this approach is it’s way more affordable. For a sheet of R-Matte you’re looking at around $12.94 at Home Depot. Which makes it significantly cheaper than DRIcore.
What about condensation?
Condensation occurs when moisture in the air meets cold surfaces. This causes a build up of water droplets and that intern can cause problems. I.e. mold and mildew. This isn’t what you want in your garage, especially if you’re storing things that are sensitive to a build up of moisture.
Installing insulation can help prevent this by well….keeping your garage warmer! If the surfaces that the air makes contact with are not cold then no condensation will occur. Great right?!
Well yes, but even if you’ve installed insulation in your garage, you may have overlooked 2 things.
- Have you insulated the garage door? This is another potential cold spot.
- Do you have any kind of heating or dehumidifier system in your garage?
If the answers no to these questions then you may find that you treasured possessions are well… molding.
What can we do about condensation?
The first option, is you install a heating system. Don’t worry, its not as hard core as it might sound. There’s plenty of kits out there that are perfectly suitable for garages. Here’s an electrically powered example from Home Depot – Dr Infra Red Heater
The other option is you install a dehumidifier in your garage. Ideally one with auto detection. This means that it will automatically turn on when the moisture level in the air is too much and remove any potential condensation. Like this GE 70pt Dehumidifier
There are units that do both heating and dehumidifying! In my opinion this is the best way to go. Especially if you plan on turning it into a kids play area or office.
Can I just insulate the exterior garage walls?
Simply put, yes you can. Since the wall that is part of the house will already have insulation in it. However for my money, if I were insulating my garage I’d probably do that wall (or walls) as well. For the extra cost, which should only be slight more on materials and labor you’ll get the best possible insulation setup for you garage.
If you own a detached garage we’ve written an article that covers insulating the exterior of a garage. Super interesting! Check it out here Should I Insulate a Detached Garage
Which brings me nicely onto my next point…
Should I Insulate My Garage Door?
Let’s say you go through all the steps and to an amazing job of insulating your garage walls with the highest rated insulation on the market. All that effort would basically be pointless if you didn’t invest in some insulation for your garage door.
It’s the equivalent of wearing a down jacket and leaving zip open during a snow storm. It isn’t going to work.
So yes, definitely insulate your garage door. If you want to know how then my suggestion is purchasing a kit. Like the ADO 8 Panel Garage door insulation kit.
As a side note, it’s worth checking if you garage door is already insulated as some of them come with it pre-installed.
Ok we’ve covered the walls and the doors….what’s next? You’ve guessed it…
Should I Insulate my Garage Floor?
This is probably the most easy to overlook part of your quest to insulate your garage. But the truth is a ton of heat can escape through the ground. This is because the ground is usually colder than the air and as a result the heat from the air will seep into the ground.
Not to mention insulating the floor will keep your feet warm!
This unfortunetly is a little trickier than insulating the walls and the garage door. I’d highly recommend you hire a contractor to complete the step. You also want to take into account what kind of weight you’re going to be placing on the floor. For instance a home gym could potentially have a lot of weight dropped on the floor all at once. Plus lets not forget if you have a car!
So yes, I’d definitely recommend leaving this step for the experts.
Should I Insulate My Garage Ceiling?
I’ve saved probably the most important to last…
should I Insulate my Garage ceiling? Yes, you absolutely should. Hot air rises and no matter how well you’ve insulated the rest of your garage, it’ll be all for nothing if you let all that precious heat escape up into the atmosphere.
How do I Insulate my Garage Ceiling?
This doesn’t have to be anything fancy, since the thermal properties of insulation are pretty similar. Plus paying an extra say 50% doesn’t equate to 50% more thermal efficiency (more like 10%). So for my money I’d go with something like Owens Corning R-30 Kraft Faced Fiberglass Insulation, this 8 pack should be suitable for most garage sizes.
I’d highly recommend insulating your garage. For my the benifits were so great and it feels like my house has garage another room. Just remember to think of this thing as a box you need to wrap up and you need to cover all the angles to get the best out of your hard work.
If you enjoyed reading this article please share it around social media and friends. Have a great day and a warm garage in the winter!
Finally we’ve got an article on insulating garage ceilings check it out because if you don’t insulate the ceiling you’ll be making a big mistake!