Best Insulation for Pole Barn

Our company has extensive experience insulating pole barns throughout our market area. If you are asking us the question what is the best insulation for pole barns, we recommend two options: 

  1. Mineral Wool Batt & Roll Insulation 
  2. Spray Foam Insulation 

Our Definition of a Pole Barn

If you’re considering putting up a structure on your property, then a pole barn is a great addition to your home. But, what exactly is a pole barn? 

A pole barn is a construction made of poles that are dug a few meters into the ground so that they act as a foundation. The posts are used to form a framing upon which the other construction materials are placed. Pole barn constructs are cost effective, quick, and versatile. 

The idea of pole barns started in the 1930s during the great depression. Times were tough and people resulted in the most inexpensive ways of construction. People used telephone poles to make the framing of a building. Later, the name was changed to pole barns. 

Physical components of a Pole Barn 

When constructing a pole barn, you want to make sure that the structure is sturdy enough to withstand different weathers and usage. To achieve a structurally stable pole barn, it has to have 5 main components. 

  1. Foundation 

 The foundation is an important part of a pole barn because it supports the columns of the structure. The strength of the foundation determines how well the structure can withstand any loads applied to it. For the foundation, we recommend having properly sized footings. The footings should either be made of precast concrete or poured concrete. 

  1. A truss 

The other component of a pole barn is trusses. The truss framework supports the roofing and it usually forms the shape of a triangle at the top. It’s important to build strong trusses because they withstand all the load from the roof and then transfer the weight on the columns. A poorly constructed truss framework can make a structure collapse because when one part falls apart, all the other trusses follow suit. 

  1. A truss and column connection 

A truss and column connection is the point at which the trusses connect to the columns. The connection is essential because it helps transfer pressure from the roofing, to the columns, and to the foundation. We always recommend having an integrated truss to column connection such that the two are interlinked rather than just attached to each other. 

  1. Fastening system 

The fastening system refers to the method used to connect different parts of the barn together. Simply put, these are screws or nails used to put together wood to wood or wood to steel. How well you fasten different parts of the pole barn determines the strength of the structure. 

Screws are better fasteners compared to nails. Screws tend to become tighter over time while nails tend to get pushed outwards. You should particularly pay close attention to the fastening system on the wood to steel. The fastening on the roofing is also crucial because it plays a role in the structural integrity of your pole barn. 

  1. Purlin system 

Purlins are horizontal and run in between trusses. They provide a frame upon which sheathing material is attached. Other than supporting the rafters, purlins also play the role of resisting gravity and wind that can damage the pole barn. 

Small sized purlins made of high quality lumber are preferred over large sized ones. The small sized purlins offer better support. Proper sizing of the purlins is also an important consideration and is often determined by the spacing in between rafters. 

Material make up of Pole Barns 

As noted above, pole barns are made of poles anchored to the ground using concrete. Walls, finished floors, and foundation aren’t necessary with these types of structures. The posts and the framing of the construction are made of wood. On the sides, you can use wood or metal. For the roofing, you can either use shingles or steel. 

What Pole Barns are Used For

Lately have you traveled through the countryside and seen so many pole barns? You’ve probably wondered how you can use a pole barn, right? Well, here are some of the ways you can use these versatile structures. 

  • Housing livestock 

For years, farmers have used barns to host cows, horses, and other animals. You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to rear livestock and build them a comfortable home. Pole barns can be that solution you’ve been looking for. 

  • Storage 

Pole barns can also act as storage places for equipment such as tractors, harvesters, hay, and other items you don’t use often. 

  • Pole barn home/ office 

Do you want to own a home but you don’t have enough money to build a normal house? Pole barns can make cost effective homes. Besides, if you want a conducive place to work from, you can always construct a pole barn and place all your office furniture in there. 

  • garage/workshop 

Your pole barn can serve as a garage and a workshop where you can work from during your free time. 

Now that we know what a pole barn is, its components, and how we can use it, let’s discuss how you can insulate it. 

Mineral Wool Batt and Roll Insulation for Pole Barns 

Insulation batts are made into pieces of different sizes and are ideal for use even in odd shaped spaces. Another advantage of having batts is that you can easily cut them into your desired sizes. On the other hand, rolls are more rigid and aren’t the best for use in odd shaped spaces. When using rolls, you literally roll the insulation on your desired area and fasten it into place. 

What is Mineral Wool Insulation 

Mineral wool insulation is made from molten glass and stone which are then spun into fibrous materials used for insulation. 

What is the R-value of mineral wool insulation 

Mineral wool has an R-value of 3.7 to 4.2. R-value is used to measure the thermal resistance of an insulation. Thermal resistance is the ability of an insulation to regulate heat loss and heat gain. 

How is Mineral Wool installed in a Pole Barn?

The process of installing mineral wool on a pole barn is simple. Here is a detailed guide on how you can make your structure more comfortable. 

  1. House wrap 

If you’re insulating a new pole barn, you need to first install a house wrap before you insulate it. A house wrap is usually installed on the exterior right under the panels. If your pole barn has been existing, you don’t need to use a house wrap. The essence of having a house wrap is to prevent moisture from accumulating. 

  1. Insulate 

We recommend using un-faced mineral wool batts to prevent moisture from building up in the insulation. Install the mineral wool batts on the walls in between the studs. Fit them snugly without squeezing too many batts on any wall cavity to gain maximum R-value per inch. 

Another component of a pole barn that needs insulation is the ceiling. For this part, you want to make sure that you fit the mineral wool batts in between the roof decking. Fill each deck until the whole space is covered with insulation. 

  1. Install a vapor retarder 

On top of the insulation, place an ideal vapor retarder to prevent moisture from getting to the insulation. 

  1. Add a drywall 

With the insulation and vapor barrier in place, the last step is installing a drywall over it to give it a smooth finish. 

Benefits of using Mineral Wool Insulation in a Pole Barn

There are many benefits of using mineral wool insulation in a pole barn over other types of insulation as detailed here. 

  • Thermal resistance 

Mineral wool is a poor conductor of heat and therefore cannot allow heat to move through it. If you’re using the pole barn to house livestock, you’re assured that the animals won’t suffer from heat stress. 

  • Fire resistance 

Mineral wool being a poor conductor of heat is heat resistant. This property makes it ideal for pole barn insulation. 

  • Soundproofing 

If you live in a noisy area and want to use your pole barn as a home or office, mineral wool is great at noise reduction. If you want to use the barn as an animal house, soundproofing is necessary because noise can stress out your animals. 

  • Pest resistance 

Using a barn as a storage area can attract pests such as small rodents and insects. Of course you don’t want to incur losses to pest attacks. Mineral wool insulation seals cavities preventing pests from passing through. 

Spray Foam Insulation for Pole Barns

Spray foam is a compound formed by a combination of two chemicals namely isocyanate and polyol resin. Most manufacturers label spray foam as side A and side B because you’re only required to mix them on the site. After spraying on a surface, the insulation rises up to 100 times its original volume. You can therefore use very little spray foam on a large surface area. 

Spray foam can either be open cell or closed cell. Open cell spray foam has a softer texture when applied onto a surface. The insulation has an R-value of 3.8 and isn’t the best if you’re looking for a durable insulation that can withstand moisture. 

Closed cell spray foam on the other hand has an R-value of between 5.1 and 6 per inch. Closed cell foam is more rigid and forms a better air and vapor barrier. Upon curing, closed cell foam forms a rigid layer that doesn’t become soggy because it’s water impermeable. 

Closed Cell Foam VS Open Cell Foam for Pole Barns 

The question on what works best for pole barns between open cell and closed cell foam depends on whether you want covered or uncovered walls. Open cell foam is the best for closed walls while closed cell foam is ideal for open walls. The reasoning behind this recommendation is that closed cell foam is more rigid and can withstand pressure even when exposed. Open cell foam is more fragile and requires a dry wall over it. For the roofing, we recommend insulating using open cell spray foam. 

How to install Spray Foam in a Pole Barn 

Before you start insulating your pole barn with spray foam, you need to wear your protective clothing. Spray foam is dangerous to the skin and can even cause respiratory problems. The first step when insulating the walls and the ceiling with spray foam is removing all items so that they don’t get stained with the foam. 

After you move all items, tape the windows and doors so that they don’t get insulated. If the foam gets to the windows and doors, it could affect how they open or close. Next, you want to make sure that you connect each hose to the spray cans. The hoses are then interconnected near the nozzle of the gun. 

Switch on the gun and start spraying the ceiling. The foam should be sprayed in between the decking of the roofing. After you’ve sprayed the roofing, next you want to spray the walls with spray foam. When spraying the walls, the best method is moving from top to bottom. 

Give the foam between 12-24 hours to cure after which, you can trim excess foam. To trim excess foam, use a utility knife taking care not to point the sharp edge towards your body. Finally, clean the room, remove the taping from doors and windows. 

Benefits of Using Spray Foam in a Pole Barn 

Here are some of the reasons you should consider using spray foam insulation for your pole barn. 

  • Structural integrity 

Closed cell foam is rigid and helps to strengthen a structure. This is a great property to help your barn withstand loads bearing in mind that a pole barn doesn’t have a foundation. 

  • Moisture resistance 

Spray foam is great at moisture prevention. If you don’t want to deal with issues of water leakages, mold, and damage to products, the spray foam is a go to solution. 

  • Air seal 

Spray foam creates an air seal such that air and strong winds cannot pass through. If your pole barn serves as a living area or animal house, it guarantees comfort. Besides, as hot air rises, it tends to condense near the ceiling causing rotting on the rafters. This makes the structure unstable. 

  • Thermal resistance 

The insulation prevents heat loss or heat gain from the pole barn. Consequently, you get to save on energy costs that would have gone to air conditioning. 

  • Pest resistance 

Pole barns used for living or storage can attract pests looking for food. The good news is that spray foam fills all cavities sealing any gaps where pests can pass through. 

Conclusion 

Pole barns are easy to construct, cost effective, and durable structures that can serve many purposes. You can use a pole barn as a home, office, storage area, garage, workshop, or animal house. Proper insulation is therefore necessary to make pole barns comfortable. Spray foam insulation and mineral wool insulation are the best for use in pole barns.