Why Metal Building Insulation is Needed

There are a wide variety of reasons to install metal building insulation in your new metal or steel building. Here we will discuss just one – damaging heat.

As an example, I will refer to one project that may seem to have some rather extreme conditions but keep in mind that we all experience the odd day or two of extreme weather conditions.

One of the companies that I have worked for constructed projects in Algeria. One project was constructed in the Sahara Desert.

This particular commercial building project included a number of smaller metal buildings required to construct an Engineer’s base camp in one of the central communities. I was project manager working from our home office in Stratford, Ontario, Canada.

I was sent over to do some trouble shooting which included checking what materials had been used, what work was completed and whether we had enough materials to complete the project.

It was mid August when I was sent overseas. One morning I arose and went to the site armed with a 1.5 litre bottle of water. When I arrived at the site (which was just across the road from our hotel) I entered one of the building shells where there was a pile of drywall and bags of insulation lying on the floor.

My first task was to take a quick inventory of the products and quantities still left in the metal shipping containers. I opened the water bottle and took a couple of swigs before placing it on the top of the pile of drywall.

After spending about an hour or so going through the shipping containers I returned to the metal building shell where my water was left. I picked up the bottle and could not believe what I felt.

The water was hot!

That’s right. It went from refrigerator cold to wash-water hot in just over one hour sitting in the metal building. Now I must tell you that the temperature that day went up to 58 degrees Celsius.

Imagine though what damage could be done to materials and equipment left in one of those metal buildings if no insulation were installed in them.

Gasoline and other fuels could over-heat and perhaps explode from their containers or fumes could build up to dangerous levels.

Metal equipment would be so hot that it could cause burns to anyone grabbing or touching them (something that did happen to one of our workers). Plastic parts on equipment could become soft and not function properly.

And in the case of this particular camp, computers could be damaged, desks would be too hot to work on – let alone the air temperature would be too hot to work in.

Okay so I’m talking about an extreme case in the middle of one of the hottest places on earth at the end of the summer season. But consider this… I suffer from a slight case of asthma. I found it much easier to breath and exert myself in this dry hot weather than in the hot (30+ degree Celsius), humid weather we experience a number of times in south-western Ontario each year.

Add that humidity to the 30 degrees and you have the potential for just as much damage and in some cases more.

Even a two or three inch layer of insulation with vapour barrier will ease the problems dramatically.

If you plan to add heating or cooling to your metal building, insulation is a must to keep your energy bills to a minimum.

As I said, there are many other reasons to install insulation to your metal building. We will discuss them in future posts.


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