Patrick’s Barn: Insulating With Garbage
You may remember the day we took delivery of 2-1/2 pallets of salvaged polyiso insulation for our barn. It was among our yearlong project’s most memorable moments. I say this because when I saw that mountain of insulation, I was finally convinced we’d have enough money for a conditioned outbuilding. There was never a doubt we’d have some kind of barn for our allotted budget, but it wasn’t certain we’d be able to heat the space during our cold New England winters.
The insulation is always what I find myself talking about when asked about the barn. It’s easy to talk about because it meant saving several cubic yards of nonbiodegradable waste from the landfill and adding almost no carbon to the atmosphere as a result of insulating our new space. It also saved us a ton of money compared to buying new insulation.
But there are significant drawbacks to using this salvaged material. For starters, the sheets take up a lot of room. Unlike a spray-foam contractor or a lumberyard that stores the insulation for you, I needed to keep dozens of 4×8 sheets of foam insulation on hand and dry for months while we spent rainy weekends installing the stuff. The insulation is also really nasty to work with. Unlike most polyiso, which has a foil face, this insulation has a fiberglass face that is even itchier and more persistent than the fibers in fiberglass-batt insulation.
The process is slow, too. With spray foam or fiberglass batts, insulating is normally one of the quickest parts on a construction schedule, but our method of cutting and fitting foam and then spray-foaming the perimeter and seams is slow, slow, slow, especially when doing multiple layers such as the rafter bays.
Now, though, I can see light at the end of the tunnel. I covered the last wall with insulation on Sunday. Rather than move the scraps and skinny offcuts left over from the rafter cavities one more time, I decided to use them on the one remaining wall. The finished wall looks like a quilt, but it sure was satisfying to put what would otherwise be garbage to good use. We still have 10 mostly intact sheets left. I’m trying to decide where to use them. Any ideas?
You can read more about my barn here.
Several weeks ago, I spent a few hours installing the aluminum fascia that I had bent up by a local sheet-metal shop. Aside from the foundation excavation and site prep, this is the first work we've paid someone else to do.
I was so tired of moving insulation scraps and offcuts, I decided to use the small, odd-shaped pieces for insulating the final wall of our barn. I found that a gap of 3/8 in. between pieces provided the best seal without wasting foam.
I hadn't used aluminum fascia for more than a decade, so I had forgotten how fast it installs and how good it looks. We're leaving the soffits open.