How to Insulate Your Garage and Reduce Your Energy Bill
While the garage protects from weather elements like rain, snow and wind, an uninsulated garage is still at the mercy of temperature fluctuations throughout the seasons. It can be quite uncomfortable in the heat of summer or the coldest part of winter. An insulated garage offers many benefits for homeowners, including reducing that energy bill. This guide will walk you through everything you should know about insulating a garage, including the benefits of garage insulation and how to do it.
When to Insulate Your Garage
Does your garage need insulation? The answer depends on several factors of your specific living situation. For example, it may not make sense to insulate a detached garage, unless you often use it as a workspace and want to keep it comfortable year-round. However, there are many reasons you may want to insulate your attached garage, especially if you use it as an extended living space or workshop. Insulating your garage can even benefit other interior living spaces that adjoin the garage because the garage offers a barrier to the outside and can increase your home’s overall energy efficiency.
It’s also a good idea to insulate your garage if you have pipes running through it that could freeze in winter, or if you store delicate items, power tools and electronics in your garage. If you’re wondering how much to insulate a garage, read on for more tips on insulating garage walls, ceilings, doors and more.
Benefits of an Insulated Garage
Insulating your garage provides many benefits that you may not have considered. We think these advantages far outweigh the costs and any potential downsides. Here are the top four pros of an insulated garage.
- Increased energy efficiency: Perhaps our favorite benefit, insulating your garage will increase your home’s energy efficiency and lower your utility bills. If you have an attached garage with adequate insulation, it can serve as a buffer zone for your house, protecting the home’s interior climate and increasing the comfort level of all garage-adjacent rooms. Without insulation, your home will lose more heated and cooled air.
- Less noise transfer: An insulated garage can protect against excess noise pollution from outside the home, whether you’re hearing sounds such as traffic and construction or your neighbor’s lawnmower. It works the other way, too. If you like to listen to loud music in the garage or frequently use noisy power tools, the insulation can protect your neighbors from your noise so you can enjoy your garage however you want.
- More comfortable: An insulated garage provides more overall comfort, no matter the weather. Imagine stepping in or out of your car into a more climate-controlled environment, totally protected from the elements. And if you use the garage as a hangout space or a place for hobbies, you can work and play in greater comfort year-round. Even heading to the garage to get something out of storage is a more pleasant experience.
- Preserves belongings: Insulation can protect anything you keep in your garage, too. Cars parked in an insulated garage experience better battery performance and get more efficiency from all the various fluids that keep the engine going. Your car will be more likely to start up even in the coldest of weather. Tools and electronics you use or store in the garage might have longer lifespans. Your storage capabilities in the garage will also increase, and you may be able to keep more temperature-sensitive items like photos or extra pantry items.
What Is R-Value?
If you’ve ever looked into insulation of any kind, you may have heard the term R-value. This rating refers to the insulation level a specific material or product provides. The higher the R-value rating, the better the insulation performs, leading to improved energy efficiency and climate control. However, higher R-value insulation may also come with a higher price tag. The R-value changes according to the type of material used and its thickness.
R-value recommendations can vary depending on what you are insulating — such as walls, ceilings, crawlspaces or attics. When you’re insulating your garage, you want higher R-value insulation, but not everyone needs the maximum level. Because climates vary across the country, the recommended R-values for each region are different. The insulation that’s best for you will depend on where you live. For the Chicago, Illinois area, minimum R-values between R13 and R21 are ideal for wall insulation. R-values listed on insulation materials are per inch of thickness. So, if the material has an R5 per-inch rating, you would need three to five inches of thickness to achieve the overall recommended R-value of R13 to 21.
Types of Garage Insulation
There are several types of garage insulation available, each with unique pros and cons. If you want to insulate a garage, consider these top choices for insulation material options.
- Fiberglass batts: One of the most common types of insulation for garages is fiberglass batts. This type of insulation is popular and very affordable. It generally comes in precut batts, or strips, made from fiberglass and designed to fit easily between joists and studs. It’s not the best for use on a garage door, but you might apply it to garage walls.
- Rigid foam boards: Another affordable choice, rigid foam boards are also easy to work with. These can consist of various plastic foam materials and come in precut 4′ x 8′ sheets. Lightweight and durable, rigid foam boards are excellent insulation to use on garage doors, or under plywood for insulated garage flooring.
- Loose and blown-in: As its name suggests, this insulation consists of various loose materials, blown into place. It’s ideal for use in small spaces like attics and crawlspaces or in tight corners. Loose, blown-in insulation requires the use of special machinery, so it’s best for a professional job, not a DIY fix.
- Foam sealant: Also referred to as spray foam, insulating foam sealant may be the most expensive option on the list. However, it’s not often a stand-alone solution. This insulation is best for smaller areas, or to finish an insulation job by filling in any cracks and crevices around your main insulating material. For a garage door with lots of crevices and moving parts, a few cans of foam sealant can increase an insulation job’s energy efficiency.
How to Insulate Garage Walls
First of all, before you start any insulation project, it’s essential to have the proper safety equipment on hand. Fiberglass batting is most people’s top choice for garage walls, and it can get messy, and even dangerous, if you’re not careful. Make sure to wear long pants and sleeves, safety glasses and gloves and a fiberglass-proof mask when working with this material. Gather all your materials, tools and equipment before you begin, so everything is handy as you work. Clean out the garage and move any clutter out of the way, then follow these steps:
- Start with smaller, oddly shaped spaces and custom-cut the batting to fit the space exactly. Do not squish or smash it in. Place the custom pieces between the framing so it fills the whole space.
- If necessary, staple or nail pieces into place.
- After completing all the odd corners and shapes, pick a starting point, and work your way around the entire garage, one section at a time, fitting them between each set of framing or wall studs. Start at the floor and gently push each panel into place.
- If any gaps remain, cut custom-fit pieces to fill in the cracks.
- Add a vapor barrier, if necessary.
How to Insulate Your Garage’s Ceiling
Insulating the garage ceiling gives you an added layer of sound-dampening qualities, energy efficiency and climate control. There are a few different ways of handling garage ceiling insulation, especially if you have attic space above the garage, but we’ll focus on one of the easiest — using fiberglass batts. You can use the same batting types as the wall insulation, and the installation process is very similar.
To install the fiberglass batts in your garage ceiling, carefully measure each space and cut the batts to fit. Place each piece between the joists, with the barrier or backing facing down. Staple the flaps over the joists on both sides to keep it in place.
Can You Insulate Garage Doors?
Don’t overlook the garage’s largest opening when doing your insulating project. All your hard work insulating the rest of the garage won’t be as successful without an insulated garage door. The garage door is like a big moving wall that can let out your climate-controlled air every time it opens.
It’s possible to insulate the garage door, and there are a few different solutions for going about this. You could apply fiberglass batting and spray foam insulation, but neither are ideal solutions for the garage door because of the way it operates. The garage door needs to open and close regularly, often with hinges and folds at several points. That makes it more challenging to apply any type of insulation, and even if you insulate your door, the constant movement can cause it to flake, come apart or fall off.
A much better option than trying to add insulation to your garage door is to replace it with a new one that comes pre-insulated. These doors have insulation inside their panels, so you won’t have to worry about the insulation coming off. Plus, insulated garage doors look far more finished and professional than trying to add insulation to your door after the fact.
Why You Should Avoid DIY Garage Door Insulation Kits
There are many DIY kits and garage door insulation products on the market today, and it can be very tempting to try one of these yourself. However, these garage door kits have some significant downsides, and we don’t recommend using them. These are the fundamental reasons you should avoid DIY garage door insulation kits.
- Voids the warranty: If your garage door is under warranty, modifying the door panels with a DIY kit or another DIY method might void the warranty, leaving you without this valuable protection.
- Difficult to find the right one: Most DIY kits are for a specific type and size of door, making it challenging to figure out what to buy. It can also be harder to get a kit that will fit your door’s precise specifications.
- Adds stress to the opener: Including insulation can add extra weight to your door — which your door opener may not be able to handle. This excess strain can lead the opener to wear out much faster.
Is Buying an Insulated Garage Door Worth It?
Replacing your garage door may seem like an added expense, but your investment will pay for itself over time. An uninsulated garage door offers little to no protection for the interior climate, and trying to insulate an old garage door yourself could be ineffective and unsuccessful. The best solution is buying an insulated garage door, as it offers a seamless, professional look and unparalleled insulated protection.
Replacing your garage door with a pre-insulated version contributes to all the benefits of a fully insulated garage, and offers many advantages of its own.
- Quieter operation: The insulation inside the garage door offers superior sound-dampening qualities. Often, the garage door can be quite noisy when moving up or down, but an insulated version is much quieter.
- Increased strength and durability: Insulation inside the garage door panels can make the door more durable, too. These doors are high-quality and built to last.
- Air sealing: If you’re trying to insulate a garage door yourself, it can be challenging to thoroughly weatherstrip every surface and crevice of the door. However, an insulated garage door comes with fresh weatherstripping that will seal all air leaks for superior protection.
Types of Garage Door Insulation
Most insulated garage doors use one of two primary insulating materials.
- Polystyrene: Waterproof and affordable, polystyrene is a common choice for garage door insulation. This material is synthetic, made from Styrofoam and is easy to modify and customize to fit inside garage door panels.
- Polyurethane: A slightly more complex synthetic material, polyurethane is also a little more expensive, but is also a popular choice for garage door insulation. Polyurethane insulation is denser than polystyrene, meaning you can get more insulating qualities with a thinner application of the material.
Some of the most reliable insulated garage doors on the market come from Clopay, and use their proprietary Intellicore technology. This unique process injects high-quality polyurethane into each garage door panel, resulting in industry-leading garage doors that are quiet, durable and strong, with superior R-value ratings. At Garage Door Specialists, we offer various garage door styles that include this innovative technology.
Browse New Insulated Garage Door Collections
If you’re ready to add an insulated garage door to your garage, browse the collections at Garage Door Specialists today. Whether you like a more modern or traditional appearance, or prefer steel or wood, you’ll find a look that matches your home and personal style among our garage door collections. And if you don’t know which garage door to choose, our experts are happy to help. Contact us today to get started.