Insulation will be required if you spend a lot of time in your shed during the colder months or even the height of winter. Even the most basic budget methods of insulating a shed can prevent heat loss and create a more comfortable environment inside.
Sheds are increasingly being used as extra living space in the garden. A tiny workshop or even a garden gym are two typical examples of shed use for anything other than storage. The difficulty with most sheds is controlling the temperature and creating a comfortable environment inside so that it can be used year-round.
A wooden, metal or plastic shed can sometimes be suffocatingly hot in the summer when exposed to direct sunshine or can be exceptionally cold in the winter months. As a result, a shed is frequently believed to be unfit for anything other than storage for a range of tools or outdoor garden items. However, a shed can be transformed into a year-round useable space with the proper insulation, and it doesn’t even have to cost you a fortune.
Insulating a shed gives benefits other than improved temperature control. Insulation might considerably lower the expenditures if an electric heater is already being used to heat the shed. Heat is easily lost through the timber in the shed walls without adequate insulation. The savings can offset the initial expense of the insulation in electricity use as the shed retains heat better over time.
Heat and insulation keep moisture at bay, which could otherwise lead to decay in the shed walls over time, so by investing a little in shed insulation can add many year to the longevity of your shed itself.
Another reason to insulate a shed is to protect delicate items that might be affected by cold, damp or even freezing conditions. A shed that is adequately insulated will have fewer moisture difficulties and make it more suitable to store an array of different items.
That said, if you are looking at budget ways to insulate a shed, we’d assume you are not planning to store particularly expensive items in the shed. If you are planning to store more valuable items, we’d recommend you choose the best insulation methods for a shed rather than the budget options.
What are the easiest parts of a shed to insulate?
Heat loss can occur any place in a shed that faces the outside, including the floor, walls, and shed roof. As the temperature rises, heat rises, causing a significant quantity of heat to be lost via a shed roof. Because walls have the largest surface area, a lot of heat is lost through them. A shed’s floor contributes to heat loss, but not as much as the walls and roof.
When insulating a shed on a budget, we recommend starting with the shed walls because they take up the most surface area of the shed. Additionally, shed roof insulation roof should also be a top concern, but it can often prove to be the most expensive when installing shed insulation.
Depending on the available money, we recommend insulating the shed floor last. An uninsulated floor may seem cold, but an inexpensive alternative to underfloor insulation is to use an old rug or old carpet as a makeshift insulator. Windows can account for up to 20% of heat loss in a garden house and should be properly sealed to promote airtightness.
What Are The Cheapest Ways to Insulate a Shed?
Using bubble wrap for shed insulation
Using bubble wrap to insulate a shed is one of the cheapest options. The air pockets can restrict heat transfer between the material’s two sides, limiting heat loss and keeping a shed warm. Because bubble wrap is thin and light, it is frequently available at local hardware stores, and sometimes available for free if it has been used for packaging.
Using foil-backed bubble wrap is an enhanced choice. The additional foil layer on each side of the bubble wrap is intended to reflect heat and improve insulating characteristics. Foil-backed bubble wrap is available specifically for shed insulation and produces excellent results.
The bubble wrap insulation is put into place on the inner structure of the shed. Avoid securing the outer cladding, as this can cause a small space for water to enter. Instead, a small space should be left between the bubble wrap and the cladding to allow air to circulate and prevent damp from forming. Once the bubble wrap is in place, you can cover it with a low-cost wood such as OSB.
If the shed contains electricity, do not use bubble wrap; use another insulation material.
Polystyrene as a shed insulation option
Polystyrene is a white substance frequently found in packages to protect fragile objects. Despite its small weight, it can provide excellent insulation. The cheapest solution would be to use packaging polystyrene in the walls of a shed to enhance insulation. However, while this would enhance insulation, it could pose a fire hazard if electrics are inside.
Expanded polystyrene insulation (EPS) is an excellent alternative for shed insulation. The EPS manufacturing method results in a closed-cell structure with minimal thermal conductivity. In addition to being lightweight, the material is resistant to wet and will not rot away inside the walls of a shed.
Expanded polystyrene is available as a huge rigid board several metres long. EPS is simple to deal with and can be installed in a shed on the weekend. Because it is lightweight, you can install expanded polystyrene sheets on the roof without putting undue strain on the shed’s construction. Before being boarded over, the board is trimmed down to size to fit tightly in between the shed’s framing.
Using insulation roll for a shed
Insulation roll is available in various materials and can be used in a shed. Glass wool and mineral wool are two popular alternatives, with glass wool being the less expensive. This insulation is particularly good at reducing heat transmission through walls and ceilings and is often used in residential homes.
Because the insulation roll is so thick, it also offers good sound-insulating capabilities. Therefore, if you utilise the shed as a small workshop, sound insulation can keep the noise from becoming too loud for those outside. However, insulation roll presents a challenge since, in addition to not being the cheapest option, it can also be difficult to deal with.
An insulating roll can be stuffed into the walls between the framing to be installed inside a shed. After that, the interior walls will be boarded up with a low-cost wood board. In addition, insulation roll products will have a fire safety rating, making them appropriate for use in a shed with electricity.
Rigid Insulation Board
PIR insulation boards are the best insulation for any garden project, but they are usually the most expensive alternative. The insulation boards are similar to those used in residential houses and have various advantages, including being lightweight and simple to work with.
PIR insulation boards have stiff foam inside and foil on both sides. However, their high thermal values frequently require less insulation to attain the same insulating qualities. As a result, thinner boards are frequently employed, which is ideal for sheds with a thin inside framework. There are numerous brands available, with Celotex being the most common.
We would recommend the cheapest insulating board you can find for a shed. 25mm boards provide a good blend of price and effectiveness for insulating a shed on a budget. You can also use thicker 50mm boards in significant heat loss regions like the roof.
Insulation boards are installed similarly to EPS boards. Each insulation piece is trimmed to fit snugly between the shed structural members. The foil on the outside of the insulation board serves as a vapour barrier, preventing water from becoming trapped in the insulation and causing moisture between the walls. Once the insulation is in place, the edges are taped with aluminium tape to promote airtightness before the inner walls are boarded.
Insulation to avoid using in a shed
Using materials unsuited for insulation can be tempting when looking for the cheapest way to insulate a shed. However, one issue with garden structures, particularly old sheds, is that water penetration can lead to moisture issues.
Non-waterproof materials can absorb water after heavy rain. When water does not dry out quickly enough during the winter, dampness and rot can form in the shed, causing structural damage.
Cardboard is sometimes recommended to insulate a shed. While it is true that corrugated cardboard can reduce heat loss, the effects will be minimal in a shed. The most difficult difficulty is that cardboard is porous and absorbs water quickly throughout the winter. As a result, the cardboard begins to degrade, causing damp difficulties in the shed. In addition, with so much cardboard inside, it could trap a lot of water inside a shed.
Spray foam insulation provides good thermal qualities and is used in homes to improve insulation. However, it is expensive, often costing more than the shed itself, and hence possibly unsuitable for garden structures. There’s also no need for spray foam insulation because the inside wood framing of a shed creates the ideal hollow for traditional insulation-like boards to be positioned within.
Lining the interior of a shed with wooden planks alone will not provide adequate heat retention. While they are used in conjunction with insulation, their primary purpose is to conceal the insulation in the wall cavity. Most wood boards, such as OSB or plywood, are not thick enough to prevent heat transfer and keep a shed interior warm.
Further measures for your shed insulation set up
Even the most basic means of insulating a shed can produce excellent results. The budget and the desired outcome will determine the optimal insulation. We propose taking some different procedures when installing insulation to maximise the outcome.
Interior wall lining
After the insulation has been put between the internal wood structure, an inner wall lining can be installed. Wooden boards can be utilised to conceal insulation while also improving the aesthetic of the interior. Nails or screws are typically used to secure the boards to the framing. Use short nails that will not penetrate through the structure and cladding.
OSB board is the best low-cost choice with good strength. Plywood and MDF are alternative options, but they are typically more expensive. After installing the internal wall lining, you can paint it with shed paint.
Check for Leaks
Insulation works effectively, but leaks can diminish the results if the shed has openings that allow water or cold air. Therefore, we aim for airtightness in an insulated shed to attain optimum outcomes. Check for gaps in common areas, such as the roof or the shed’s corners. You can use wood filler or sealer to fix small holes.
If any leaks allow rainfall into the shed, the inside walls where insulation is installed can create the ideal habitat for damp to form. Examine the floor for any shed areas that may retain excess water. If the leak originates beneath the shed, the shed floor may need to be repaired.
A frequently asked topic is whether an insulated shed requires the installation of a vapour barrier. A vapour barrier is installed on the warm side of the insulation to prevent water vapour from entering the insulation from damp air. When warm, humid air enters the insulation, it cools, and the water condenses, which can cause damp. Air will not be able to enter the insulation because of the vapour barrier.
For example, foil-backed bubble wrap and PIR boards do not have a requirement for a vapour barrier, as the foil is, essentially, the vapour barrier, and any gaps around the edges can be plugged with aluminium foil. However, if the insulating roll is used, you should install a vapour barrier.
How to avoid condensation in a metal shed
Many people opt for metal sheds instead of wooden structures as they can have a longer life in your garden if looked after properly and won’t suffer from rotting frames, roofs, floors and doors, unlike their wooden counterparts.
However, metal sheds are prone to condensation, leaving tools and equipment rusty and not fit for use.
What factors contribute to condensation?
Condensation occurs in your shed when the outside temperature is chilly, and the inside temperature is warm. As the outside temperature drops, so does the fabric of your shed (metal, in this case).
Metal sheds are typically constructed from fairly thin, heat-conductive metal sheets. As the atmosphere gets colder, it reaches a temperature known as the ‘dew point’, which is what the air’s temperature must be for water to transform from a vapour to a liquid (dew).
When cold metal comes into touch with warm air, droplets develop as condensation on the inside of the shed’s roof. It commonly occurs on the inside roof of the shed because, as you probably already know, hot air rises, creating the moistest environment.
Rising warm air can cause condensation on:
- The roof/ceiling
This is because it has nowhere else to go. The issue is that this condensation can then drop back into your shed. As a result, the contents of your shed may be harmed.
Condensation prevention: inside
There’s no reason to avoid metal garden buildings because of condensation issues.
And to prove it, we’ll show you how to eliminate condensation in metal sheds permanently.
To prevent condensation in your metal shed, you must:
- Keep the inside dry.
- Allow for appropriate ventilation.
- When construction, keep dampness at bay.
- Insulate your shed properly.
- Make use of a dehumidifier.
Summary of budget shed insulation materials
There are numerous low-cost or sometimes free solutions to insulate a shed. When you install insulation, it allows your shed to be used as a workshop or as a space to store objects sensitive to cold temperatures, even during the winter. Constant heating is not required with adequate insulation, as the shed can retain heat throughout the day.
Bubble wrap, which may be fastened to the shed framing and boarded over, is the cheapest alternative. Bubble wrap with a foil back is good for sheds because it is more insulating. However, many free choices, like cardboard, might cause more problems than they solve, such as wetness, and have little effect on the actual insulation of the shed.
Your choice very much depends on how limited your budget is and what purpose is that you are planning to use your shed for. If you are aiming to store items of some value in there, then the cheapest shed insulating options are probably best ignored for better insulation upgrades.