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Garage Insulation

I'm thinking about insulating my attached garage. I live in N.E Ohio and I'm not looking to make it completely insulated and warm in the cold months but I do want to get it a bit warmer. Should I just put batt insulation between the studs? What about the door? I also would want a heater for when I would be working out there. Suggestions ?

MLB Construction
Re: Garage Insulation

since you're just looking to make it bearable during the winter months, the most cost effective way to insulate would be to use batt insualtion. is the ceiling open to the roof rafters or is there a plaster ceiling about 7'-8' up? if you have a ceiling, insulate the rafter bays above with something like R-30 batts and use r-13 or r-19 in the walls. if your ceiling goes up to the roof, insulate the roof rafter bays and then install a cheap ceiling fan and keep the blade up pretty high, about 3'-4' from the top to push the warm air down. if you have the money, an insulated garage door would be great, if not, cut up some sheets of rigid foam insulation and attach them to the inside of the garage door.

for heat, if you have a one car garage, 2 good electric space heaters should do the trick. i'm assuming it's ony going to be used while you're in there. another option would be to add a few lengths of electric baseboard to the outside walls. getting more expensive, you could install a wall mount electric heater, a wall mount or ceiling mount gas powered heater. it's going to depend on how quickly you need to warm the space up and how long you want to keep it warm for. but whatever you choose, the better insulation job you do, the easier it's going to be to heat.

Re: Garage Insulation

Yes, nearly all garages have a reputation for being notoriously hard to heat, especially in a cold climate such as northeast Ohio; definitely put up as much fiberglass batt insulation as you can & consider closing in the interior roof part with ceiling joists, plywood & ceiling insulation for not only additional storage space, but to reduce the waste of heat that will collect in the upper inside rafters if you leave it open; the garage door is a real problem area, as they are notorious for being very leaky of cold air, & let in a lot of cold due to low R-value; if feasible, I would consider walling off the carport area with 2X4 stud framing & plywood walls w/a door from the rest of the garage to avoid all that heat going thru the drafty garage door; the garage floor is also notorious because it is usually made of poured concrete, which absorbs an amazing amount of freezing temps from the outside and transmits this like an iceberg into the garage living space.

It's also a good idea to consider putting down high density styrofoam 4 X 8 sheets with 2x4 floor joists on the concrete floors & then a plywood floor to effectively combat the "iceberg" winter condition of the freezing concrete floors; forced hot water heating systems are usually not a good idea for a garage, as they will freeze if not kept on 24/7, & will waste a lot of heat when no one is using the garage/workshop.

Another strategy is to ISOLATE a certain part of the garage and partition off a room into a 10' X 10' or 10' X 15' workshop where all the above components are installed; if you already have forced hot air in your main house, you perhaps can extend the house heat into the workshop via a separate zone if you have enough extra btu/hr rating on your furnace; otherwise, it's not that expensive to purchase a separate forced hot air furnace for the workshop---standard practice is to allow 35 to 40 btu/sq.ft. for residential house heating needs; thus a 20' X 40' HOUSE = 800 sq.ft. X 40 btu/hr/sq.ft = approx 32,000 btu/hr for adequate heat; for a garage, especially a garage area that hasn't been partitioned off into a workshop needs DOUBLE what is adequate for a house---20' X 40' garage = 800 sq.ft. X 80 btu/hr/sq.ft. = 64,000 btu garage furnace/heater; for a partitioned off 10' X 10' garage workshop as noted above, 10 X 10 = 100 sq.ft X 50 btu/sq.ft./hr.= 5,000 btu/hr furnace or heater; a forced hot air furnace in the 64k btu/hr range is surprisingly inexpensive, of low weight, & can even be purchased via the internet to avoid taxes & shipping fees, and delivered right to your garage door; good furnaces are made by Carrier, Bryant, Trane, Weil-McLain, Heil, Rheem, York Thermopride, American Standard---you don't need any ductwork, just a stainless steel chimney thru the roof; consult the Yellow Pages under "Heating Contractors" to get a few local estimates.

A lot of people put up a minimum amount of insulation & buy a small elec heater with the assumption that this will solve the heating/comfort problems of the garage, as listed above---only to find that it doesn't work & the garage remains unbearably cold & impossible to work in for any length of time.

Re: Garage Insulation

Thank you both for the great advice!:)

Re: Garage Insulation

The garage door is going to be a problem. Most garage doors are thin steel panels so between the gaps in the panels, and the conductivity of the steel, it is going to be hard to heat, even if you insulate everything else pretty well.

There are aftermarket all wood doors that would help, but they are expansive, and you may have to upgrade the garage door opener to handle the extra weight. You could try gluing foam board to the insides of the panels, that would help some, but would not solve the problem of the spaces between the panels.

My thoughts, glue the foam boards on the backsides of the panels anyway, 1" thick would be a big help. I am trying to think of a way to hang insulated curtains on the inside of the garage door to reduce airflow from teh gaps and block heat loss too but the tracks would get in the way. If anyone has a workable idea, then that would help also.

For heat, If you have gas too your house, I would consider a wall mounted, vented gas heater. I would not use an unvented heater for safety reasons, but you will get a lot of air infiltration around the garage door, so it might work. If you go with an unvented, be sure to have a CO detector in the garage.

The gas heaters provide a lot more heat than the portable electric heaters. The portable electric heaters may also use up the full capacity of the electric circuits in the garage so you would have anything to power the saws and drills etc. If you have the floor space, a small wood stove might work for you too.

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