Cheapest Ways to Insulate a Metal Building

Metal buildings are susceptible to thermal fluctuations during extreme temperatures and seasonal changes. However, the best insulation methods can sharply increase the overall budget. You need efficient yet pocket-friendly ways to insulate a metal building. 

Fiberglass insulation is the cheapest insulation for metal buildings. While spray foam insulation is more efficient, it costs three times more than the cost of fiberglass. Fiberglass insulation can provide superior insulation while keeping material and labor costs low. 

Can you insulate the surface of a metal building?

You can insulate an existing metal building. Metal is an excellent heat conductor. Thermal insulation is essential for maintaining a comfortable indoor environment during summer and winter while reducing energy costs for the homeowner.

It is up to the property owners to choose the best and most cost-effective insulation method for long-term thermal protection. 

Budget, climate, and personal preference can influence your choice of insulation material. Different insulation materials have different R-values, providing different levels of thermal protection. 

The Department of Energy has updated lists showing recommended R-values for different climates. The information can help you research the best insulation material for your space. 

Cheapest ways to insulate a metal building

Insulating a metal building doesn’t always have to be expensive. You can opt for numerous inexpensive ways to maintain a conducive thermal environment in your metal building.

And while some materials are more expensive than others, they provide a higher R-value for better insulation. You might also have to consider factors such as ease of installation and access to materials.

Some of the cheapest ways to insulate a metal building include:

Fiberglass insulation

Fiberglass is the most cost-effective choice for insulation material for your metal home. Fiberglass has excellent thermal protection properties that ensure your home maintains a comfortable relative temperature regardless of the season.

Fiberglass insulation costs $0.89-$2 per square foot. The cheapest fiberglass insulation method would be fiberglass batt. An average 500-square-foot metal building can use up to $600 on fiberglass insulation. 

Labor costs for fiberglass insulation range between $30 and $50 per hour. 

You can readily purchase fiberglass wool in home improvement stores. Additionally, you need minimal technical knowledge to install fiberglass insulation. 

Fiberglass wool is also effective at regulating humidity within your space. 

The thin wool is between 3 and 20 μm. The fiberglass works by creating tiny air pockets between individual strands that prevent heat transmission and water permeation to the inner layers of the surrounding structure. 

Silicon, a primary constituent of fiberglass, has low thermal conductivity, which improves its insulation properties. You can purchase fiberglass blocks with varying thicknesses depending on your needs. Fiberglass stacks are relatively easy to install when insulating between walls and other spaces. 

Spray foam insulation

Spray foam is a highly effective choice for insulation against temperature extremes. The product has a high R-value and offers quality service for extended durations.

Spray form insulation costs $0.44-$1.50 per square foot. While it is expensive, spray foam provides excellent R-value and thermal protection. Open-cell spray foam insulation costs less than closed-cell spray foam insulation. Open-cell spray foam costs $0.44 to $0.65 per board foot, while closed-cell spray foam costs $1.00 to $1.50 per board foot. 

Spray foam insulation is best done by a professional. Labor costs range between $1300 and $4000. However, you can buy a kit for $200-$350 and DIY it if you have some expertise in the field. 

Rigid board insulators

Rigid boards have a definite shape and rigid structure, which makes installation on metal planes quick and effective.

Foam board costs about $0.25-$1.40 per square foot, although you might also have to factor in additional charges such as labor. The price also depends on the insulator material.

You can make the boards from wood, concrete, or foam. The R-value of a rigid board largely depends on its material. Different materials have varying thermal and moisture protection abilities. Your choice of material depends on the climate. Rigid board insulators can be standardized in thickness. Most rigid boards have a thickness range of ½ to 2 inches, although you can find special boards up to 6 inches thick for extreme conditions. 

Rigid board insulators are easy-to-install and have better moisture protection capabilities than fiberglass and some materials. Installation might require some technical expertise, but you can also DIY it. 

You can try different rigid board insulation variants for better thermal protection. 

Loose-fill insulation

Loose-fill insulation (blow-in insulation) is an ideal choice for anybody looking to insulate a metal building with ease. The insulation consists of cellulose or fiberglass materials that are readily available and affordable.

Loose-fill insulation costs between $1 and $1.5 per square foot. Most primary materials have a lower upfront cost, and service provider determine the labor costs.

Loose-fill insulation offers good thermal insulation, but its effectiveness and application scope depends on the insulation material. The insulation is easy to install, although you might have to hire a contractor to prevent insulation inconsistencies such as over fluffing.

However, you can DIY it with the right tools and expertise. You need an installer, tubing, industrial blower, and insulation material. One installer feeds the material to the blower while the other fills insulation pockets on the other side of the tubing. 

Loose-fill insulation can be a good fit for your attic, walls, and large spaces that need insulation. Besides, loose-fill insulation materials such as recycled cardboard and papers are eco-friendly choices for thermal protection.

Bubble insulation

Bubble insulation is a cost-effective means of insulating metal surfaces. The insulation utilizes the low thermal capacity of air to protect surfaces against temperature fluctuations. Although bubble insulation has a relatively low R-value, it is suitable for spaces such as garages and other surfaces that require minimal insulation.

A standard roll has an average price of $75.00 to $202.50. Most of the insulating material is also affordable with minimal labor costs.

Bubble insulation consists of one or two layers of foil (double bubble) enclosed with pressed-in air pockets within the layers. Bubble insulation is versatile, easy to apply, and pocket-friendly. The primary material is polyethylene which has limited thermal protection. Incorporating a reflective film and air spaces improves its thermal insulation for a comfortable living space.

Bubble insulation has a low installation cost and requires little technical expertise to install. Most of the insulating material is also affordable with minimal labor costs. Bubble insulation is a versatile choice for internal and external use.

Insulated metal panels

Insulated metal panels provide quality thermal protection for metal buildings. The panels consist of standardized insulation material that includes foam or fiberglass. Using insulated metal panels is ideal when insulating both commercial and residential spaces.

On average, installing a standard insulated metal panel costs $7-$14 per square foot without including additional expenses. Labor costs vary depending on the region.

Insulated metal panels have a wide R-value range from 7-48 depending on the foam core. QuadCore has a value of R-8 per inch. The range makes insulated metal panels a good choice for many home improvement and insulation projects. 

Installation is relatively easy, although you might need to hire the services of a technician depending on the scope of work.

Insulated metal panels are durable, providing great ROI. However, they might have a slightly higher cost than other insulators. Their price depends on R-value and interior and exterior metal lining choices.

An overview of the different materials’ installation costs.

InsulationCost per measurement unit
Fiberglass$0.89-$2.00 per square foot
Spray Foam$0.44-$1.50 per square foot
Rigid Board Insulator$0.25-$1.40 per square foot
Loose Fill Insulation$1-$1.5 per square foot
Bubble Insulation$75.00-$202.50 per roll
Insulated Metal Panels$7-$14 per square foot


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