There’s no doubt about the importance of insulation in your home, but things aren’t so simple when it comes to thinking about garages.
Whether or not you should insulate your garage depends on how you use the space, so it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons of insulating a garage before making a decision.
An insulated garage generally makes sense for homeowners who spend time there regularly. Still, insulation isn’t always worth the cost for those who primarily use it to store belongings and park their car.
When deciding whether to insulate your garage, remember that there is no one solution that is right for everyone. This is because, even though insulation can increase the room’s comfort and energy efficiency, it is also quite expensive, so much so that you might never make up for the price in energy savings.
However, insulation can make your garage more pleasant if comfort is your primary concern.
What Exactly Is Garage Insulation?
Insulation is a material installed between your walls to help maintain a consistent temperature in your home. It can keep your house safe from extreme cold and heat. It can also aid in reducing the amount of noise you hear. A properly insulated home is also more energy efficient.
However, garages are typically not insulated or airtight due to numerous air gaps. Remove outlet covers and use a flashlight to inspect the interior of the walls to see if there is any garage insulation. This straightforward method is your best bet for getting a good look.
When deciding whether garage insulation is proper for you, there are many things to take into account.
Consider how the benefits and drawbacks of insulating a garage will affect your way of life and the local climate as you learn about them. You might not benefit much if you just leave your car in the garage.
It might be worthwhile, though, if you or any of your family members enjoy spending time in the garage, such as using it for a home gym or band practice or having a spare bedroom in the loft.
So, let’s examine the advantages and disadvantages of garage insulation in more detail, starting with the advantages.
Pros of Insulating Your Garage
- Reducing energy bills
Nobody wants to spend more money heating and cooling their home, which is why we consider adding insulation to reduce our energy bills.
During the winter, a non-insulated garage at or below freezing can significantly cool the adjoining rooms, increasing energy costs. Insulation can help you save money on your utility bills if you live in a cold climate and have an attached garage, especially if a door connects the garage to the rest of the house.
Insulating your garage means the adjoining rooms will stay warmer in the winter, and you can open the door without freezing air entering your home.
If you spend a lot of time in an uninsulated garage, adding insulation will help you save money on energy. This is especially true if you regulate the temperature with a space heater or fan.
- Reducing moisture
Insulation not only traps heat but also keeps moisture out. Uninsulated garages, whether you realize it or not, are highly susceptible to moisture problems.
While you may not believe that a little moisture is a problem, you are mistaken. If you have any metal, electronics, holiday clothing, or Christmas decorations, moisture can ruin everything.
Rust can form as a result of condensation on metal. Adding insulation to your garage can help protect the items stored there from damage.
- Reducing sound
Most people don’t want to be privy to everything their neighbors do or for people walking by on the sidewalk to overhear their private conversations. Depending on the type and thickness of your insulation, it can reduce sound by up to 16 decibels.
Also, if you frequently use power tools, play music in your garage, or frequently do other loud activities that might annoy your neighbors, this alone may make insulation worthwhile.
- Increasing space
The benefits we’ve listed above combine to make an insulated garage a cozier, more useful space. It’s not necessary for your garage to only be used for parking. It can also be a space for storing exercise equipment or keeping fragile items. By insulating your garage, you can have that extra space and use that space in the same way you would any other room in your home.
- Preventing pests
When insulating your garage, you’ll add weatherstripping to the doors, insulation materials to the walls, and insulation for the garage door. As you’re doing all that, you’ll undoubtedly be looking for cracks, holes, or gaps to fill with expanding foam. This will not only increase the garage’s R-value, which measures how well an insulation material prevents heat from escaping the space, but it will also transform what is normally a fairly porous room into a more secure space that will prevent pests like rats, snakes, raccoons, spiders, and roaches from entering.
- Minimizing and containing fires
Most types of insulation are fire-resistant, which means they can help protect your family and property from harm. Although insulation can’t prevent a fire, it can help it spread less quickly and be contained.
Cellulose can actually withstand temperatures of up to 300 degrees Fahrenheit before combusting, making it the most fireproof insulation material available.
This is a subject worth considering, given that according to the U.S. Fire Administration, there are 6,600 garage fires in America each year, which result in 30 fatalities, 400 injuries, and more than $457 million in property damage.
Cons of Insulating Your Garage
You’re probably prepared to purchase your insulation now that you’ve heard all the benefits of garage insulation. Don’t rush things, though. Although garage insulation has many advantages, it has difficulties and issues. Let’s examine some of the reasons why you might not want to insulate your garage.
- Insulation can be expensive
This is usually the number one disadvantage when it comes to insulating your garage. Garage insulation as a do-it-yourself project typically costs between 50 cents and $1.25 per square foot, depending on the type of insulation used. If you hire a professional installer, the cost can easily double.
Of course, your final costs will depend on where you live and the type of insulation you choose. The cost and difficulty of the project will also vary depending on whether your garage has drywall or open walls with visible studs.
For example, open walls can be lined with fiberglass insulation batts or fitted with rigid foam boards, whereas drywall needs to be opened up and filled with spray foam insulation before being sealed and patched.
Another thing to remember is that the cost of insulating your garage will increase with its size. However, you will also save more energy. That is if you use your garage frequently. The cost may seem excessive if you have a large garage that you only use occasionally.
- Return on investment can take long
Since this isn’t typically a concern for buyers, there isn’t any evidence to support a correlation between the two if you’re hoping to offset this investment with a rise in your home’s resale value. Similar to how improving your home’s insulation can increase its overall energy efficiency, most homeowners will have to wait decades for the project to pay for its energy savings, and many people may never recoup the cost.
However, if you use your garage frequently and attempt to maintain a consistent temperature, you may recoup the insulation cost more quickly.
- Your garage may become too hot
Insulation is great for keeping your garage warm in the winter but can be unbearably hot in the summer. If you drive a hot car into your garage on a hot day and leave it to cool, the heat from your car will be trapped inside, making your garage feel unbearably hot unless you leave the garage door open.
So, unless you typically park your car inside your garage and live in a hot climate, you may be better off not insulating your garage.
If you spend a lot of time in your garage and live somewhere with particularly hot summers, insulation will keep you cool as long as you park somewhere else.
- Your garage may look unattractive
The final drawback of insulation is primarily aesthetic, but it is still important to mention. Unfinished walls with exposed insulation look uglier from an aesthetic standpoint.
Many homeowners don’t give much thought to the appearance of their garage walls, but if it is important for you, you might want to forego the insulation or spend a little extra to finish the walls with drywall panels.
Options for Garage Insulation
It is also essential to know the pros and cons of your options as well. Here are some options to consider if you decide to upgrade your garage insulation:
- Fiberglass: An insulation material that is frequently used is fiberglass. Typically, you can find it in pink at home improvement stores. Though it is particularly vulnerable to moisture, it is not always the best option.
- Rock wool: Rock wool is incredibly resilient and fire-resistant. It is also very moisture resistant. Before drywalling, it can be installed in large batts between wall studs.
- Spray foam: Although it can be useful in other places as well, this kind of insulation is typically used in attics to insulate and air seal simultaneously. Additionally, it is among the priciest varieties of insulation. Spray foam insulation effectively blocks humidity because it resists moisture well.
- Foam board: The R-value of foam board may be higher than that of fiberglass, but it is still relatively affordable. It resembles disposable cups from the past and is made of polyurethane foam.
- Cellulose: Cellulose is an incredibly efficient insulator that works particularly well for garage ceilings. It is also extremely environmentally friendly. Cellulose, in fact, is made from recycled materials and has a negative carbon footprint.
Before gathering insulation quotes for your garage, you should carefully consider how you use the space and what you hope to gain. Insulating your garage won’t likely help you if all you do there is park your car and want to cut down on energy costs.
Insulation makes sense if your garage doubles as a complete gym, workshop, and band practice space, and you never park your car there. Overall, it depends on your preferences and the climate where you live.
Related Read: How Long Does Epoxy Garage Floor Last?
What type of insulation is best for a garage?
The best insulation for garages is, without a doubt, spray foam. Compared to other insulation techniques, spray foam performs better and seals the air better. Because spray foam has a higher R-value than other insulation, it offers better energy cost savings.
Is it OK not to insulate a garage?
If your garage is attached to your home, you should insulate it more than you might think. Because the attached garage is where heat can escape, attached garages without insulation may make it harder to heat the rest of your home.
How do you know if you need to insulate your garage?
You can tell if your garage has insulation by first looking at it. Your garage probably has insulation if you see large pieces of foam or fiberglass between the walls and/or door frames.
The best course of action is to speak with your builder or home inspector if you’re unsure whether your garage is insulated or not. They might have documentation detailing the type of insulation used when building the garage.