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Barndominium Insulation [Expert Guide] + [Proven Techniques]

Barndominium is an open floor metal construction that requires proper insulation to keep it weatherproof.

Proper insulation would provide a barndominium following advantages:

  • Temperature control
  • Energy efficiency
  • Soundproofing
  • Moisture control
  • Better resale value
  • Increase overall durability
  • Access to tax credit through saving energy

Insulation is one of the key factors to make a barndominium weatherproof. However, depending on the type and size of the barndoinium, we use different insulation materials.

This article will discuss the significance of the insulation in barndominium and will discuss the other technical side of it.

How does insulation contribute?

First of all, Proper insulation would keep a balanced temperature in a barndominium that ultimately enhances its durability and livability. Since the structure is built with metal structure and the metal sidings are used outside, a barndominium without insulation would have temperature volatility inside.

Benifits of insulation

Moreover, with the proper insulation, a barndominium owner would reduce significant energy from the reduced use of heaters and air conditioning. Not only that, insulation also helps in lowering the utility cost in various ways.

Similarly, insulation works as an active sound-proofing agent for the barndominiums. Because of the use of metal roofing and siding, rain and harsh weather make it noisy, and insulating materials reduce the noise considerably.

We tested a barndominium noise reduction by applying spray foam insulation and the result was surprising. There was a 29-decibel decreased noise when the owner insulated his barndominium. Notably, the storm door and airproofing also contributed to such noise reduction.

Insulation also helps in moisture control and saves the metal frame from getting rusted. As we all know humidity can oxidize the metal frames and bring rust, insulation acts as a humidity and moisture blocker by stopping the free flow of temperature between different layers of steel.

Notably, insulating your barndominium would offer you a US tax credit of up to $1200 as per the IRS circular.

Above everything, proper insulation would provide you the opportunity to get higher resale value in the future. Remember, future buyers will always value a healthier and energy-efficient living space.

Different types of insulation for barndominium

The choice of insulation varies by the climate & location of the barndominium and construction types. For instance, a barndominium made with wooden poles would have different insulation compared to the metal barndo.

The US Department of Energy (DOE) sets the insulation guidelines for the houses depending on climate and other factors.

The DOE suggests that barndominiums located in cooler climates would need powerful insulation compared to the barndominiums from warmer climates. The DOE also provided a map that exhibits insulation levels, varied by different zones.

Insulation Climate MAP

For example, Zone-2 (southern part of the US) would require R30 to R60 insulation and R13 to R15 for wall cavities. (we will clarify the R-value in the later part of this article).

They also recommended using air-sealing to get the best performance which we have already mentioned in our previous article regarding the barndominiums durability.

The following are the available types of insulation:

  • Batt or, blanket insulation
  • Roll insulation
  • Rigid foam insulation
  • Radiant barriers
  • Blown-in/loose-fill insulation
  • Spray foam insulation

Let us discuss one by one.

Batt insulation

Batt insulation is typically made from fiberglass, or cotton/mineral wood. There are pre-cut butt panels that are placed on the wall and floor as a means of insulation.

Generally, batt insulation has R-value of 3.2 and 3.8 per inch which means a 3.5-inch batt would have an R-value of 11.2 to 13.3 in general.

Batt insulation (also known as blanket insulation) is a popular affordable choice for wooden construction but not recommended for metal construction because of not having moisture resistance.


Since it is available as a pre-cut version, it is easier to install compared to other insulators. Also, batt insulation is cost-effective and would not require any special training to set them. It also offers comparably better soundproofing doing to having thermal properties inside.


Since the batt insulations are available in the precut version, there is a possibility of gaps between them. Such gaps or uneven installation would hamper the purpose of insulation.

Additionally, batt insulation is not moisture resistant which affects the overall durability of the barndominium especially if it is a metal barndo.

Roll Insulation

Roll insulation is also pretty similar to batt insulation which is also made from fiberglass or mineral fibers. Unlike the batt insulation, the roll insulators come as a roll so that the user can cut as per their need.

The R-value of the roll insulation would exactly be the same as batt insulation which is 3.2 to 3.8 per inch.

Here’s a detailed cost analysis for barndominium’s insulation.

Roll insulation can be a cost-effective choice but would not be a suitable option for the metal barndominium for not having moisture resistance.


The main advantage of roll insulation is that it does not come in a predetermined shape. It’s cost-effective compared to other types of insulation and would not require any special training to install.


The main disadvantage of roll insulation is the unavailability of moisture resistance which makes it unfit for the metal houses. Even if it comes in a roll, inefficient cuts would again leave gaps and damage the ultimate purpose of the insulation. Furthermore, sometimes handling can be difficult as the rolls are heavy and not convenient to cut.

Foam board insulation

Foam board insulation or, the rigid foam insulation appears in rigid panel. This insulation is typically made from polystyrene, polyurethane, or polyisocyanurate.

Rigid foam insulation have higher R-value compared to the batt and roll insulation which ranges from R-4 to R-6 per inch of thickness.


  • Higher R-value (Polystyrene foam board typically has an R-value of about R-4 to R-5 per inch of thickness, while polyurethane and polyisocyanurate foam board insulation typically have an R-value of about R-5.5 to R-6 per inch.)
  • Highly versatile. You can use it on the roof, siding, and floor.
  • Offers great moisture resistance (protects from damp walls and other humidity factors)


  • More expensive than fiberglass insulation (butt and roll insulation)
  • Installation is tricky since it requires careful cutting and fitting. Gaps between panels sometimes get tougher for air sealing.
  • This may not be considered environment friendly since this is made from polystyrene, polyurethane, or polyisocyanurate

Radiant Barriers

Radiant barrier insulation is produced from highly reflective materials such as aluminum foils. It reflects the light/temperature in its opposite direction and keeps the wall or roofless heat absorbent.

Radiant barriers do not have any R-value as it does not function like other types of insulation. So, using only the radiant barrier wound not meet the guideline set by the US Department of Environment (DOE). But, you can use them with other types of insulation for better insulation and stronger energy efficiency.


  • Reflects heat in the opposite direction (highly effective in warmer areas)
  • Can be utilized with types of insulation
  • Durable than other types of insulation
  • This is expensive but offers greater efficiency if combined with other insulators


  • Only applicable to hot climates, it does not help much in the winter season
  • Installation sometimes gets tricky
  • It is an expensive form of insulation that does not even help in winter

Need a Barndominium Floor Plan?

We filtered out the trending barndominiun design layouts in one place.

Blown-in insulation

Blown-in insulation or loose-fill insulation works by blowing loose cellulose, mineral wood, or fiber-glass. The R-value of the blown-in insulation varies from R-3 to R-3.8 (depending on what are you blowing).

This is worth mentioning that the R-value decreases after the material gets stalled after blowing on the wall.


  • Offers extended coverage with zero gaps. The mechanism works by blowing cellulose or fiberglass into the surface so that it covers the smallest area properly.
  • The raw materials are found through recycling so this insulation is properly environmentally friendly.
  • Ensures maximum heat/cold retention and offers energy efficiency.


  • This is not a DIY task, professional help would be required.
  • materials settle over time so the R-value decreases when they get settled.
  • Comparably less moisture resistant which downgrades the efficiency

Spray foam insulation

Spray foam offers the greatest insulation having the highest R-value. It works by spraying material (isocyanate and polyol resin) after which the foam expands to fill nearby spaces. There is no risk of gaps upon applying spray foam insulation.

Spray foam insulation offers an R-value of 3.5 to 6 per inch which is extremely good if multiplied by the thickness it offers.

Open cell vs closed cell spray foam insulation


  • Offers maximum insulation compared to batt, roll and blown insulation.
  • Offers maximum coverage, leaving zero space uncovered.
  • Gives the strongest moisture barrier and suits best the metal barndominium.
  • Offers US tax credit.


  • Spray foam insulation is more expensive than the other types of insulation.
  • Requires professional service providers which is costly
  • If not sprayed as needed, expansion may cause damage to other neighboring materials
  • Open-cell spray foam is not suitable for outdoor wall as they seem to be less rigid.

So, what is the best insulation for barndominium?

Undoubtedly, the spray foam insulation is the best choice for metal barndominium. If you make wooden infrastructure then the batt or roll insulation and even the blown-in insulation would work. However, if you need better moisture protection, there is no alternative choice than the spray foam insulation.

Moreover, the choice of insulation for the barndominium would vary depending on the following factors:

  • Climate: A colder climate would require a higher R-value. So, barndominiums located in warmer areas can utilize low R-value insulation. A mixture of butt and radiant barrier can be utilized even.
  • Budget: Spray foam insulation is always expensive yet it is the best quality insulation.
  • Building design: Large open areas can utilize blown-in insulation whereas the enclosed spaces can have blanket insulation.
  • Building codes: Your local building codes may restrict some sort of insulation as they are governed according to climate changes.
  • Energy Efficiency: Higher R-value would offer you the best insulation which alternatively saves utility costs.
  • Moisture control: If moisture control is the concern, you cannot think about the cost and choose which offers the best moisture resistance.

Compare spray foam with fiberglass here.

What is R-value?

R-value measures thermal resistance. Alternatively, it indicates how much can any insulation material resist heat flow.

R value

The R-value depends on the type, size, and thickness of the insulation. Primarily, the R-value is measured as thickness per inch. For instance, the batt insulation provides an R-value of 3.2 per inch which means, if you double the thickness inches , it will become 6.4 and by trippling the thickness inches it will reach close to 10.

So, a higher thickness or adding an extra layer of thickness of your insulation material would offer a greater R-value (better insulation).

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

What’s the best insulation for a barndominium?

Undoubtedly, spray foam insulation is the best choice for a barndominium because it offers the highest R-value of a minimum of 3.5 per inch and its nature of expansion covers all the hidden areas. However, the insulation choice can vary depending on the structure of the bardnominium. For example, the open spaces may be insulated with blown-in insulation which offers a cost advantage.

How thick is a barndominium wall?

Barndominium exterior walls can have thicknesses from 5 inches to 20 inches depending on the design, location, climate, and insulation type. For example, If you use batt insulation, you need to increase the layer to achieve the target R-value.


Insulation is a must for the barndominiums. Especially, if your location is in windy area, or extremely cold area. From our experience, spray foam always works better for the metal barndominiums. However, you may use other types of insulation depending on the structure, size and the location of your barndo.

Brian Cooper
Brian Cooper

I'm Brian, an architectural engineer from the University of Texas

Writing about barndominium is my passion. I try to bring informative and technical contents on barndominium so that the entire sourcing and construction process seems easy.

As an architectural engineer, I do have expertise of designing and building using prefabricated steel structures. Moreover, I am connected with 500+ prefabricated steel structure experts that helps me to gather and prepare the relevant information for your help.

I have experience of 250+ barndominium contrustion of which 75% are built with metal structure. Moreover, I am a trained energy audit professional, and with that specialization I can help you to bring your barndo's energy consumption at minimum level.

I hope you like my write-ups which is my greatest inspiration.

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