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Stables in colder climates - Insulation?

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  • Stables in colder climates - Insulation?

    For those that live with colder winters, tell me about your barn insulation.

    We have a large empty metal building on the new farm that we are going to build stalls in. I'm told that insulating the roof is a good idea. Apparently the condensation on an uninsulated roof can create "rain" indoors. DH also wants to insultate the walls to make it warmer in winter. He's suggesting the spray insulation for both ceiling and walls, then I guess cover that insulation with metal. It all sounds quite expensive to me

    My other question is how would you let in natural light without losing R-factor? An example being, if you put sky lights in roof panels, the heat will escape there. The building has a few large doors but no windows. On our current barn we have a row of that clear panel running above the stalls and it lets in a ton of light. The current barn is not insulated though.

  • #2
    Midwest-dweller here & our winters can be long & Frigid!

    My barn is a 36X36 metal pole building. The roof is insulated, walls are not.
    I have 2' eavelights, no skylights.
    The insulation is the foamboard type.

    I leave the 2 stall doors - Dutch doors - open to the elements year-round and the barn stays relatively comfy.

    My attached indoor is not insulated and there is some dripping from condensation, but not a lot.

    I think the barn would be worse if not insulated as the horses' body heat would add to the condensation.

    I store my hay - 250 bales (small squares, about 50-55#) inside the barn and that helps insulate too.
    *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
    Steppin' Out 1988-2004
    Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
    Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


    • Original Poster

      Thanks. Ventilation was my other concern. I know it gets cold but you still need some air movement. DH is a "horse person in training" so we don't always agree on how things should be done I wonder if insulating the sidewalls would be over-kill?

      The area I'm talking about is 36'x80' and the ceilings are quite high. I'm almost considering adding flooring just over top of the stalls for some hay storage.


      • #4
        We have our ceiling and side walls insulated in our metal barn. It's a huge difference between this barn and our uninsulated wood barn. Of course we have a couple of windows and the doors which obviously take away from the insulation a little, but not too much. And they provided nice ventilation. We are in the midwest too and have pretty cold/icy winters.


        • #5
          How many horses/stalls are you planning?

          I only have 2 stalls & store the hay across the aisle from them on pallets.
          I've never liked having hay overhead - too much dust sifts down on the horses & it is a PITA getting hay down.
          My ceiling in the barn is 14' @ the peak - 10' above the stalls.

          I get plenty ventilation including cross when I leave the front slider open along with the one that separates the arena from the barn.
          With the stalls left open & screened windows across from them, that gives me 4-way ventilation.
          Our prevailing winds are North-South mostly so my barn is faced East-West with the outside stall doors opening to the East.
          Rarely (wish I could say never...) do wind/rain/snow blow into the stalls.

          Not sure what insulating the sidewalls would do.
          How warm do you want it anyhow?
          I have just the 2 - horse & pony - and it really is not ever unbearable inside the barn. Even in mid-Winter with stalls doors open.
          *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
          Steppin' Out 1988-2004
          Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
          Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


          • Original Poster

            The building is 80x36 and there are various sliding and people doors on it so I'll need to figure a layout around them. I'm thinking 6 stalls, a feed room, a tack room and an area for sawdust storage indoors.

            There is also an attached area, but separated by a full wall with a sliding door, that looks like it use to be a shop of some sort and has concrete floors, about 50x30 that DH thinks he's going to use as a shop, I think it might house some hay and my horse trailer instead


            • #7
              We insulated ceiling and sides and highly recommend it. We have the clear panels as the top 2 feet of the walls. That lets enough sunlight in to really heat up the barn (but never too warm), so the clear panels add to the comfort. I do not have clear panels in the roof, just on the top of the sides.


              • #8
                I have 8 stalls in my barn and a wash stall and a front "t" section that has my feed room, tack room, office and utility room

                The ceiling is R40 blown in cellulose insulation and the walls are R28 fibreglass batts. Each stall has a sliding window, the 4 corner stalls have 2 windows each, dutch doors at 3 ends and 2 of them with sliding windows

                Through the winter, I HAVE to crack several of the windows open no matter how cold it is outside and leave the 2 windows fully open on the dutch doors at the front of the barn otherwise it gets way too hot in there. I like it in the low to mid 40's inside, so even with it at or below 0F outside with howling winds, Ive never gone below the 32F freezing mark in the barn no matter how many windows I have open

                Good luck - it can be a real juggling act for sure to get it all right ...

                True Colours Farm on Facebook


                • #9
                  Insulate roof and walls. Install a ventilation system that consists of intake (cupola, ridge vents or vent and one end of the barn) and a blower fan. If the doors are closed the fan is on. Check the door type on your building, an insulated overhead (garage) door works best, sliding doors become a pain once the snow falls. I would add actual windows over opaque panels.


                  • #10
                    Go with the spray foam insulation if you can. So much easier than trying to get big sheets or batts up into the rafters. Skylights are not the best choice, much more heat-loss than a regular window.


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by RayMort View Post
                      Go with the spray foam insulation if you can. So much easier than trying to get big sheets or batts up into the rafters. Skylights are not the best choice, much more heat-loss than a regular window.
                      This I think the spray foam is also less rodent friendly.


                      • Original Poster

                        What about birds? Do they pick at or try and nest in the spray insulation?


                        • #13
                          Has anyone done their own spray-foam insulation project themselves? I'm looking at putting up a metal pole barn this summer - just the shell - and finishing out the rest of the work myself. Curious to know how much others have spent to insulate walls and ceiling with the spray foam. One website calculator just gave me an estimate of $66,000 to do it myself - can that be right??


                          • Original Poster

                            Originally posted by anchodavis View Post
                            One website calculator just gave me an estimate of $66,000 to do it myself - can that be right??
                            Dear god, I hope that's not correct


                            • #15
                              yeah I think it based on the total square footage and buying about 100 kits that are menat for much smaller projects... I'm sure there's a better way to do it. I was looking at a 40x60 building with 12' walls, but now I'm thinking of something smaller and shorter.


                              • #16
                                We insulated barn with lots of high quality windows with guards for light. I LOVE it. When I shut them in at night and open them up in the morning the barn is AT LEAST 10 degrees warmer than outside temps. Of Couse, the barn is completely full which helps a lot.


                                • #17
                                  Originally posted by Sparky Boy View Post
                                  What about birds? Do they pick at or try and nest in the spray insulation?
                                  I wouldn't put it past them...little bast$#ds
                                  I had a group of starlings (nasty,dirty birds) set up housekeeping near my eaves. They pecked out chunks of the foamboard insulation before I got their nesting holes covered over with hardware cloth.
                                  They have also clogged a good section of my ridge vent with hay
                                  Anyone know a way to get them out of there that does not involve me on a ladder?
                                  *friend of bar.ka*RIP all my lovely boys, gone too soon:
                                  Steppin' Out 1988-2004
                                  Hey Vern! 1982-2009, Cash's Bay Threat 1994-2009
                                  Sam(Jaybee Altair) 1994-2015


                                  • #18
                                    I have a very old circa 1820 barn. It has no insulation other than hay in the loft and an attached garage that breaks the north wind. It stays 10 - 15 degrees warmer than the outdoor temperature, and that is ok with me. It if is sub zero, we blanket the horses and give extra hay, but I'd rather have good ventilation than an air tight, insulated barn that will hold in the ammonia vapors from urine in the winter.

                                    If your horses can get out of the wind and elements, I would think they would be just fine in an metal barn as long as it's safe, sturdy and doesn't have sharp edges.