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Sheds

How do you insulate a garden shed

By  Enda McLarnon

We know that a garden shed is really useful. People use them for many purposes such as potting plants, storing tools and mowers, a place to hide in sometimes, and for general storage especially during the Winter in the UK.

We also know that keeping sheds warm and free from mould and mildew is not easy. Without some type of insulation plants seldom survive, and tools, mowers and bikes will rust as they are always in contact with cold damp air.

Insulating your shed properly is one of the cheapest methods of preventing cold damp air from causing any damage. With insulation there is a one-off cost for materials and a one-off use of your time to do the actual insulation work.

It is a reasonable cost of around £100-£150 to do the job properly. If you use your shed on a regular basis, or store expensive items in there like tools and bikes, or use it to grow seeds and young plants, then insulation is worth considering.

If your shed is just for holding some hand tools, and a few odds and ends that are not particularly valuable, then we wouldn't bother investing the money.

What does Insulation do?

Insulation helps control heat circulation, helps control noise and most importantly prevents condensation. It essentially slows down the movement of heat in the Winter months and keeps it inside the shed. In the hotter Summer months it works in reverse and helps keep the heat on the outside and cools the shed.

Non-insulated sheds can vary a lot in temperature throughout the year. Insulation simply helps a lot to regulate the temperature. That means you can enjoy your shed all year round. It also helps create an area free from damp and mould, and helps reduce the number of insects.

Insulating Different Shed Types

Sheds can be made from metal, plastic or wood. The vast majority of sheds in the UK are made from wood. Just below we explain the insulation options for all three types.

Insulating a plastic shed

Plastic sheds are the hardest to insulate. The vast majority of plastic sheds are used around the garden for basic storage and are usually small. There are of course larger plastic sheds, and for these, there are limited options when it comes to insulation.

Plastic sheds are not really designed to be insulated. They have a particular method of construction that does not make insulating them easy. Any attempt at insulating them will need some thought.

You will probably be restricted to therma-wrap or foam boards. 

Therma-wrap - this is a combination of a bubble wrap with aluminium which you apply to the cladding. Because of the plastic material it is hard to find a method of attaching materials to it other than glue, which is of course messy. You will then also need to seal the joints with heavy-duty tape to keep out moisture.

Foam boards - This is a sturdier type of insulation and they are foil lined foam boards. You can stick these to the wall and seal any gaps with tape.

When finished with the insulation, it won't look that pretty. People tend to then cover the insulation with either MDF or plywood to leave a nicer finish. Once again this will have to be a strong adhesive to be effective.

Insulating a metal shed

Metal sheds are pretty similar to plastic sheds. The vast majority of metal sheds are not really designed to be insulated. They have a particular method of construction that does not make insulating them easy. 

You will probably be restricted to therma-wrap or foam boards.

Therma-wrap - this is a combination of a bubble wrap with aluminium which you apply to the cladding. Because of the plastic material it is hard to find a method of attaching materials to it other than glue, which is of course messy. You will then also need to seal the joints with heavy-duty tape to keep out moisture.

Foam boards - This is a sturdier type of insulation and they are foil lined foam boards. You can stick these to the wall and seal any gaps with tape.

Insulating a wooden shed

Wooden sheds are by far the most popular type of garden shed. They are also the easiest to insulate because you can use a staple gun to attach various types of insulation to the shed.

There are a number of choices to insulate a wooden shed.

Bubble wrap - this is the cheapest, quickest and easiest method of insulating a wooden shed only. You simply staple normal bubble wrap to the framing of your shed not the cladding. That is to be sure you create an air gap which is really important.

Therma-wrap - this is a combination of a bubble wrap with aluminium which you apply to the cladding. You cut this to fit in between your frame panels and staple (or use a small tack) each corner to the cladding.

Foam boards - This is a sturdier type of insulation and they are foil lined foam boards. Place these boards over the panels in your frame and then seal the edges to prevent them from moving.

Rockwool/Fibreglass wool - This is only suitable for wooden sheds. First you need to fit a damp proof membrane. Once that is done you can then use a roll type product which you cut and fit the gaps.

DIY Shed Insulation

Few jobs are easier than insulating a shed. Anyone with an interest in DIY will find this very simple to do with very few tools. It takes a day or so to do the complete job.

What Insulation Materials do you need?

  1. Some type of reflective bubble foil wrap or insulating boards if you prefer
  2. Aluminium foil tape

What tools do you need?

  1. Staple gun
  2. Utility knife

Our Recommended Bubble foil wrap for sheds

We like the SuperFOIL bubble foil wrap as it has 2 layers of reflective foil, one either side of a bubble structure. This has been tested to UK standards and are LABC registered and BBA accredited.

This roll is 75 cm wide x 50 m long for around £65 which is really good value.

The amount you will need of course depends on the size of your shed. We have included a table below that helps you understand how to work it out.

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How many rolls of insulation do you need?

The most common shed size is an 8 x 6 feet shed. (2492 mm x 1814 mm). We have listed below other popular shed sizes, but other sizes may exist.

These are the external sizes of the shed but when insulating it is better to use the internal size of the shed. The one other factor to consider is do you have a flat roof, slanted roof or an Apex style roof. Finally remember you have to overlap the insulation by 50mm where they join so allow for that.

Just below we have calculated the number of rolls required for the most popular shed sizes. We have then assumed using a 75 cm wide x 50m standard bubble foil wrap. (Covers 37.5 square metres)

Most sheds are around 9 feet high. (3metres)

Shed Size (Feet)

l x w x h

No of rolls

8 x 6 x 9

1

6 x 4 x 9

1

8 x 4 x 9

1

10 x 4 x 9

1

10 x 6 x 9

2

The best method of figuring out the number of rolls you need is to get out your measuring tape along with a pen and paper. We know that is old fashioned but it works.

Work out the length, breadth and height of the shed. For example an 8 x 6 shed that is 9 feet high. You will have two walls measuring 8 x 9, two walls measuring 6 x 9 and the roof 8 x 6 if it is flat. If you want to insulate the floor then you will have another 8 x 6. That is a total of 348 square feet (32.3 square metres)

A roll of 75 cm wide x 50m covers 37.5 square metres. Divide the shed surface area 32.3 by 37.5 to get 1 roll.

How Much Aluminium Tape do you need?

On average a roll of aluminium tape costs around £5. This type of tape is 50mm wide and comes in lengths of 45 metres. In most cases we would recommend buying 5 rolls of tape. If you need more you can quickly buy and extra roll or two.

You can usually insulate your shed for around £100 and a day of your time.

Video on how to install shed insulation

Shed Preparation - Clear the shed out if possible. It just makes your life a great deal easier, and you avoid the risk of tripping over toys and bikes.

Quick check -  Check the shed for any gaps, holes and leaks. There is no pint at all in insulating your shed if there is an external weak point. Gaps around doors and windows, a leak in the roof, a damaged guttering need to be repaired or filled in. Likewise loose cladding or cracked board need to be repaired first.

The dreaded roof - This is almost always the weakest point in any shed. Most sheds will have a felt roof. It is always a good idea to check the roof and fix any areas that have lifted or look worn.

Finishing off the shed Insulation

if you do get the insulation done, then it is worth finishing it off to make it look better. You can do this using MDF boards or external plywood.

MDF boards 1.2 x 0.6 m cost around £12 a sheet. Plywood of the same size is around £15 a sheet. 

if you add those it is then easier to attach shelves and storage and makes the inside of the shed look really good. You can do this one wall at a time if you can't afford all of the wood at one time.

Our Summary

We would only recommend insulating a shed if it is going to get regular use. To do it properly is going to cost from £100-£150 depending on the size of your shed, what materials you use and if you do it yourself or pay someone to do it.

Bubble wrap is the cheapest method of shed insulation and recommended for a cheap and quick method. This will add some insulation, but adding the aluminium reflection is definitely worth doing. Some people prefer the insulation boards or thermo-wrap which is better but more expensive to do.

if you then cover the insulation with MDF or plywood you will have a well insulated and nice looking shed that will keep you comfortable, and also stop your tools, bikes etc from rusting and avoid damp and mildew.

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