Does My Garage Need to Be Insulated?

by eLocal
Contractor Insulating with Mineral Wool Attic Roof. Close up on insulation layers of mineral wool insulation, roof insulation

If you've ever stood shivering in your garage while rummaging for your car keys, the idea of garage insulation may have crossed your mind.

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An insulated garage can be a great investment in some circumstances, but whether it's worth it depends on how you use the space.

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What Is Garage Insulation?

Garage insulation is similar to the insulation in your home, and it does pretty much the same job — keeping cold air out while preventing heat from escaping. However, you may need a different type than the insulation in your main residence. The best insulation for a garage depends on your garage's characteristics and whether it's finished. Below are some of the most common options.

Fiberglass Garage Insulation

Fiberglass insulation is one of the most popular types for garages because it's cheap and straightforward to install. However, it's prone to mold. Therefore, fiberglass insulation is only suitable if your garage is 100% watertight.

Rigid Foam Garage Insulation

Rigid foam is another affordable option that also offers decent soundproofing, making it a potential frontrunner if you want to use your garage as a studio or living space. This type of garage insulation is only suitable for thin walls. It usually comes in precut pieces, which could be an issue if you discover uninsulated spots following installation.

Cellulose Garage Insulation

Cellulose insulation is pricey but provides excellent flame resistance. Its properties make it particularly suitable for insulating holes causing cold drafts inside your garage. However, the downside is that you need to install drywall over cellulose garage insulation.

Spray Foam Garage Insulation

Spray foam garage insulation could be a good option if you want maximum energy efficiency. This insulation type is airtight and is ideal for keeping mold and pests at bay. It's relatively expensive, and you should hire an experienced contractor to install it.

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What Are the Pros and Cons of an Insulated Garage?

One of the primary advantages of garage insulation is that it keeps your garage's temperature relatively consistent and reduces moisture. It could also help prevent insect infestations, reduce the risk of fires and provide basic soundproofing. However, the benefits depend on which type of garage insulation you choose.

An insulated garage is more comfortable to spend time in and could provide some much-needed additional living space. If you heat your garage, insulating it will minimize energy loss and could significantly reduce your bills.

On the other hand, insulating a garage can be expensive, especially if you plump for a premium option such as spray foam or cellulose. Although energy savings could help recoup some of the outlay, it usually takes several years to earn back what you spend.

Another potential drawback is that unfinished insulation looks unsightly. Of course, that may not be an issue if you don't plan on using your garage as a living space. Otherwise, you'll need to hide the insulation with drywall, significantly increasing your project costs.

You'll also need to consider whether to replace a regular garage door with an insulated model. Garage doors have to be large to accommodate a car, so an uninsulated door can cause significant heat loss and make your garage insulation obsolete. Therefore, most people end up splurging on an insulated door to make their insulation more effective.

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Should I Insulate My Garage?

Generally, it's only worth insulating your garage if you heat it or spend a lot of time in it. If you plan to use your garage as a living space, insulation is essential. However, if you don't heat your garage, insulating it won't make a lick of difference to your energy bills.

Insulating an unheated garage could still make it more comfortable in colder weather, but it's probably not worth the expense if you only go inside for a few minutes at a time to park your car or fetch your toolkit.

A final option to consider is going halfway and insulating a portion of your garage. Partial insulation is usually only beneficial if your garage is attached to part of your house. For example, you could consider insulating the garage wall adjoining your home to prevent heat loss from the room next door. Alternatively, you could install garage ceiling insulation if an upstairs room extends over the garage.

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