Insulation is available in quite a variety of materials, each with its own strengths and drawbacks. These materials are available in loose particulate form, in batts or rolls, or shaped as boards. Fibreglass is just about the most common and popular material, not least because it is economical yet effective.
Mineral wool resembles fibreglass though it has greater resistance to moisture. Styrofoam boards separated by a thin layer of air provide insulation not only against cold but against unwelcome noise. Polyurethane Foam is installed by spraying; it expands and hardens and is particularly useful for gaps and hard-to-reach and irregular places.
Last but not least, foils and membranes are fast becoming popular DIY insulation materials because they deliver good value for money and are very easy to install. One major advantage of foils and membranes is that, unlike other types of insulation, they can be laid on irregular, undulating, and jagged surfaces with ease.
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Understanding the R-Value of insulation is helpful, if not essential. The ‘R’ stands for (Thermal) Resistance. An R-Value indicates the degree of insulation that a particular material provides, with higher numbers providing more insulation and the increase in insulation being linear; that is, insulation with an R-Value of 12 is thrice as effective as that having an R-Value of 4.
The thickness of the insulating material also plays an obvious part. The actual insulation provided by a given piece of material is derived by multiplying its R-Value by its thickness in inches.
Our top pick has a lot going for it: as foil insulation, it is lightweight and easy to install yet it is also non-toxic and flame retardant.
Dripex’s Bubble Foil combines aluminium, which acts as a radiant heat barrier, and air bubbles, which insulate against both thermal loss and noise. Because of this dual feature, it can do double duty.
You can install it on the exterior – roof and walls – of your shed as it will reflect radiant heat, and also install it in the interior as quick-and-easy insulation. This dual feature also makes Dripex’s foil versatile. For example, you can use it as an external coating for a caravan or internal insulation for your boat’s cabin. Finally, it can also be used as a vapour barrier on the walls.
However, you are not limited to using this foil only for structural insulation; it has many uses. For example, you can wrap it around water pipes and plumbing, and you can use it to package fragile items that are sensitive to temperature extremes for long-distance transport.
Installation is quick and simple: cut sheets and staple with a staple gun or stick with an adhesive. Seal the joints with tape.
Like most foils, Dripex’s Bubble Foil’s R-Value is from 1 to 2.
This Dripex product is sold in rolls of five sizes combining two widths and four lengths: 0.6m x 10m, 0.6m x 25m, 1.2m x 25m, 1.2m x 40m, and 1.2m x 50m. It is 3-4 millimetres thick.
We feel that for foil-based insulation, our top pick is unusually effective; after installation in a small shed, one can feel the difference.
- Aluminium based, it is both non-toxic and also flame retardant.
- Quick and easy to install for the layman.
- Versatile: use it externally or internally, and anywhere from a cubby-hole to a caravan, and for purposes over and above structural insulation.
- Unintentionally creating a vapour barrier with foil could lead to a moisture trap in your shed.
- Do not expect industrial-strength R-Values.
- On the pricier side for a bubble foil.
SuperFOIL’s product is actually a specialised waterproof vapour barrier that does double duty as a thermal insulator by virtue of its glass fibre material.
Our budget buy, SuperFOIL’s Waterproof Membrane is composed of laminated aluminium foil, reinforced with glass fibre. It is 100-percent waterproof vapour barrier while also acting as an insulating material.
This makes it an ideal insulator for areas affected by damp earth or climates with high humidity. This is so because moisture is a threat not only to your stored equipment but even to expensive high R-Value insulation. Because this product is actually a vapour barrier, it can be used in conjunction with fit-for-purpose high R-Value insulation to serve as a moisture barrier.
As thermal insulation, this membrane is about equally effective in keeping out the heat and protecting against the cold. This waterproof membrane can also be used to ‘airproof’ your shed – that is, to accomplish air-tightness.
One gripe about this membrane is that it is prone to tearing so it needs to be handled and stapled with some care.
Like most foil insulation, SuperFOIL Vapour Barrier is quick and easy to install: cut to size and use a staple gun and simply seal joints with sealing tape. But, also like most foils, its R-Value is between 1 and 2.
Available only in 1.2-metre x 20-metre rolls and about one millimetre thick, our value pick is ideal for those who want the biggest bang for their buck.
- Especially suitable for structures that are susceptible to damp and moisture through seepage or humidity.
- Tested and certified by independent authorities LABC and BBA so you are assured of quality.
- Inexpensive and affordable.
- Prone to ripping and tearing.
- Needs to be stapled with care.
- As this product is a multipurpose membrane, do not expect very good insulation.
Yuzet’s multi-use two-in-one composite combines aluminium and air bubbles for a double-barrelled impact that reflects radiant heat and also provides thermal insulation.
Yuzet makes a simple yet smartly-designed product: their composite foil is comprised of an aluminium layer on one side and multi-layered air bubbles on the other. The aluminium side acts as a radiant heat reflectant and the air-bubble side serves to thermally insulate your shed.
For this reason, this foil can be applied to the exterior of a structure to reflect heat, to the interior of a structure to retain heat, or in a sandwich – say between brickwork and plasterboard or between siding and sheetrock – preferably with an air layer to enhance insulation.
Though slightly less light than other foil insulation, it is still a lightweight product at 206 grams per square metre. It is as easy to install as other foils; all you need do is seal the joints with foil tape (as recommended), use an adhesive to stick it to a surface, or staple it using a staple gun. It is also quite strong and does not tear yet can easily be cut with a craft knife or Stanley knife.
Though a little costlier than the competition, this dual-purpose product works very well in insulating many types of enclosures, from a loft to a cabin to a camper.
Yuzet makes its double aluminium bubble foil in the thickness of 4 millimetres a standard width of 1.2 metres and sells it in folded sheets of 5, 10, 15, and 20 metres, and in rolls of 25, 50, 75, 100, 125, and 250 metres.
- The simple yet elegant design makes this dual-purpose product very well-suited for different kinds of lightweight insulation.
- The 4-millimetre thickness sets it apart from other lightweight foils.
- Quite strong and not prone to tearing.
- Because it is so effective, one may be deceived into thinking that it is a specialised, fit-for-purpose insulating material.
- Sheets and/or rolls are sometimes folded in half for shipping which damages the material.
- On the costly side.
Thermawrap’s versatile variant of aluminium-and-air composite foil comprises of air bubbles encased within layers of aluminium, providing both radiant heat and insulation.
By virtue of its design, Thermawrap’s Bubble Foil Insulation reflects radiant heat courtesy of the aluminium and provides thermal insulation due to its layer of air bubbles.
Lightweight and flexible, Thermawrap Bubble Foil Insulation is another all-purpose foil that is easy to install for laymen. Simply cut to size, staple, seal, and you’re done.
Another feature of this product is that it is also a moisture barrier. In damp climates, you can use it not only on your shed’s walls but to protect its floor from moisture seepage. With the reduction in moisture, you will also control undesirable condensation that can develop in heated sheds. As a result, it will protect your interiors against mould. In addition, if the joints are properly sealed it will also keep out draughts.
As with foil insulation, you can use it anywhere that this foil’s particular qualities are called for. Apart from your shed, think of caravans, greenhouses, kennels and chicken coops.
However, one should not expect it to provide heavy-duty insulation as foil wraps typically have low R-Values. As well, a common complaint is that the adhesive used internally in the roll is unnecessarily strong, making unwrapping and unrolling the foil quite a chore.
Although Thermawrap makes a few other insulation materials, this specific product is currently available only in 40-centimetre x 5-metre rolls. Partly for this reason, it is costlier than other similar options and is not an economical choice.
- The two-in-one design provides both a radiant heat barrier and also thermal insulation.
- An added benefit is protection from moisture and damp.
- At 3.7 millimetres, it is a little thicker than most other foil insulation.
- Available only in one size: 40-centimetre x 5-metre rolls. This gives you only 2 square metres.
- Strong glue used within the roll makes it troublesome to unwrap and unroll.
- Relatively costly – not an economical choice.
Making a ‘triple play,’ this foil is a radiant barrier, vapour barrier, and also provides thermal insulation; what is more, it is LABC- and BBA-certified.
Although the second SuperFOIL product on our list is also actually classed as a vapour membrane, it also includes a bubble insulation layer and its outer sides function as a radiant barrier. Thus, laymen can confidently use this single multi-purpose foil in a variety of settings instead of trying to figure out how to solve three different problems.
Besides your shed, use it down in the basement to protect washing machines and tools from moisture, and use SuperFOIL Bubble Foil up in your loft to shield your children from the summer sun. On the other hand, when it is frosty outside the same foil will tend to keep your loft warm. Moisture control is not a strong suit, but, that said, we think that this foil works exceptionally well as a radiant heat barrier.
Installation is simple and easy cutting to size, stapling, and sealing the joints with tape. Try to leave an air layer between the foil and the exterior wall to enhance both the insulative effects and even keep out noise.
Comparatively, this foil is strong and of good quality. For its functionality and at its price point, SuperFOIL’s Bubble Foil is quite a bargain.
Another plus is that SuperFOIL’s bubble foil is tested and certified by the LABC (Local Authority Building Control) and BBA (British Board of Agrément).
This SuperFOIL is 3 millimetres in thickness and is available in rolls with a standard width of 0.75 metres and lengths of 5, 10, 15, 20, 25, 50, 100, 150, and 200 metres.
- A truly multi-purpose lightweight foil insulation; a Jack of All.
- For the functionality at the cost, it is quite good value for money.
- Tested and certified by independent authorities LABC and BBA so you are assured of quality.
- Do not expect very good moisture control from a foil that makes a ‘triple play.’
- It is not a specialised insulating material with a high R-Value.
How To Heat A Shed Efficiently
Step One towards heating a shed efficiently is to insulate it effectively. Therefore, preliminarily a few tips on effective insulation:–
- When most persons embark upon a shed insulation project, they tend to think of only the walls and perhaps the roof. If you live in a colder climate, such as in USDA Zone 7, you may have to consider insulating the floor as well. The reason is that the earth itself acts as a thermal conductor and, therefore, in cold weather uninsulated floors can cause loss of heat.
- If your shed’s walls’ siding or wood planks have any gaps or crevices, caulk or otherwise seal them before starting on insulation.
- If you use wool, fibreglass, or similar ’spongy’ insulation, do not compress it as this will reduce its thermal resistance.
- Insulating the roof is not only important, it can be tricky because insulating your roof effectively depends on the style of your roof – e.g. gables versus rafters – and over and above insulation, you must also have a moisture plan.
- Heat-generated moisture can cause mould in your shed, damage equipment through condensation, and the insulation itself can be rendered ineffective. Therefore, even though gaps and crevices must be sealed, you may need to retain vents or other outlets in your shed’s roof.
While sheds may be heated in any number of ways, efficient heating options are limited to three or four. These are electrical convection heaters, radiator heaters, and fan heaters.
Though each one has its advantages and disadvantages, cost-effectiveness and portability are advantages common to all three, as is the superfluity of expensive professional installation.
Electric convection heaters are quite inexpensive and are available in quite a variety. Their special advantages are that they quickly heat an interior and they are particularly efficient because they are available with 24-hour programmable timers and a thermostat. Thus, you reduce heating costs by generating just the right amount of heat throughout the day.
Radiator heaters are of two types: water-filled and oil-filled. Either way, these too are relatively inexpensive and cost-efficient. These wall-mounted heaters usually do not have programmable timers or thermostats but can be hitched up to them. They are safer than other heaters.
Fan heaters are the least safe option because they pose a fire hazard in a room that has wood chips, sawdust, or any dust. Other than that, fan heaters are efficient and simple to use – switch on and off!
In our Isle, draughty sheds are a frequent complaint. If you follow our simple guide on heating your shed, you’ll be as snug as that proverbial bug in a rug!