Insulating a shed roof

If you love spending time in or working on your garden, you're sure to spend quite a bit of time in your shed. Though more pleasant in the summer, you can also make your shed a comfortable environment in colder weather too. Achieve this through insulating a shed, there are many ways of providing insulation, which we discuss in our shed insulation tips below.

If your shed is tongue and groove then you do have a head start: it’s certainly the best external cladding for keeping out the worst of the UK wind, rain, and snow. Irrespective of your shed’s construction, however, you do have a few insulation options.

Editor’s Note [15.12.23]:

Our guide for how to insulate a garden shed was first published in January 2017. Today we have merged two other shed insulation articles – “Your guide to better shed insulation” and “How to insulate your shed” into this new ultra-comprehensive how to guide.

New sections include a detailed tools list, five materials to board up an insulation layer, and tips to maintain insulation efficiency. As well as these, there have been extensive updates to many of the other sections too.

Insulating your shedInsulating your shed

Why insulate your shed?

Insulating a shed is essential if you are going to make the most of your garden shed. The temperature inside can get cold during the winter months so, if you want a pleasant working environment the whole year round, you are going to need a well-insulated and sealed shed.

To achieve this, you have two options for insulation for sheds:

  1. Insulate your existing shed or
  2. Buy a new one that offers better levels of insulation

Preparing your shed for insulation

Preparing your shed for insulation is a crucial step in enhancing its functionality and comfort. Before exploring the insulation process, it is important to ensure your shed is ready for the transformation. Commence preparation by giving your shed a clean. First-off remove clutter and debris, you do not want your work impeded by tools, garden furniture and bikes.

Carefully inspect the entire exterior and shed interior and look for any signs of damage, wear & tear, or rot. When you insulate a shed you are more likely to find issues with older sheds. It is crucial to fix any structural issues prior to commencing insulation work. Repair rotten wood, change faulty fixings, apply timber treatment and anything else needed.

Treated ShedTreated Shed

Ensure that there are no loose wall panels and no missing fixings and that everything is secure, well-maintained, and watertight. Specifically search the shed for gaps, cracks, and holes in the walls, roof, windows, and doors. Although they may appear minor, issues like this will impact the overall insulation. Buy Sheds Direct recommend caulk or spray foam insulation sealant for making these repairs. These create a tight seal, that enhances the performance qualities of the insulation. Where you are adding foam boards to a metal or plastic shed, we suggest applying adhesive first.

Next, check the condition of the roof felt. Check the corners for loose roof felt, then nail them to the roof. If the shed roof insulation’s overall condition is poor, then you will need to consider replacing it with a new weatherproof covering. Where necessary, always upgrade or repairing the shed roof before you decide to insulate. A leaky and loose roof will dampen insulation materials, rendering them ineffective. If your roof needs serious work, it might be wise to tackle this before moving on to insulation.

Examine the floor coverings. You must fix any holes or damage before you can insulate the floor surface. This keeps cold air from rising through the ground, creating a warm, well-insulated shed environment.

Consider the condition of any shed windows. Old or leaky windows can be a major source of heat loss. If you want better insulation, consider replacing them with double-glazed windows, or at the very least, make sure the windows are properly sealed.

Finally, schedule the insulation procedure. Determine your starting and finishing points, as well as the best way to avoid any fixed fixtures in the shed. Careful planning will make it easy to install insulation and ensure that the process goes more smoothly and efficiently.

You can improve the comfort and functionality of your shed by creating the right conditions for the insulation to do its job. Remember that effective insulation and long-term shed enjoyment require careful planning.

Tools needed to apply insulation for sheds

For a shed insulation installation to go smoothly and effectively, having the appropriate tools on hand is essential. Every tool needed to make sure that as you insulate your shed everything is smooth and works properly. The list of necessary equipment is as follows:

  1. Caulking gun - applying sealant precisely where needed for gaps and joints
  2. Chalk line – mark out temporary precise straight and level lines on surfaces
  3. Drill - create holes, wherever needed (e.g., walls or frames)
  4. Dust mask – protect your lungs with a mask, this is especially important when cutting insulation material
  5. Hammer - needed throughout installation, a claw hammer adds extra functionality for removing existing nails
  6. Ladder - access high shed areas safely during installation
  7. Pliers - useful to bend and cut small metal pieces
  8. Protective gloves – 100% necessary for hand protection, wear protective gloves for use with fibreglass handling, in particular
  9. Safety goggles – naturally, wear these to protect your eyes from airborne fine particle, dust, and other contaminants
  10. Saw – cut insulation board, wood, and other materials to the exact shape and size needed
  11. Screwdriver - for various driving tasks during insulation, relating to screws
  12. Spirit level - ensures perfect alignment and levelness of frames and panels
  13. Staple gun – secure insulation materials with ease to wooden shed frames
  14. Tape measure - essential for accurate measurements of insulation sheets and spaces
  15. Utility knife - handy for cutting insulation material to the required sizes

Material types for shed insulation

Next, you will need some materials to go along with your tools. We summarise some of the materials below and then provide more details in the following section, where we expand by use in shed roof, walls, floors, doors, and windows.

Cheaper materials

If you’re short on time, or just short on money, tack rolls of polythene or bubble wrap strips to the framing on the inside of the shed. It’s not that expensive, it’s quick to do and you will notice a difference in temperature inside your shed - though don’t get into your shorts just yet.

More advanced materials

For this, you’ll need either mineral wool insulation (such as rockwool) or fibreglass wool. Normal polystyrene for the insulation is not a good idea particularly if you have any electric cabling; some sources reckon the polystyrene can perish the PVC sheath plus it can be a fire hazard. When working with fibre wool, be sure to wear a mask, gloves, and protective clothing.

Wall InsulationWall Insulation

Insulating the shed walls & roof

When insulating your shed's walls and roof, there are a variety of materials and techniques to consider for the best results. Each option, from breathable membranes to insulation wools and insulation batts, has its own set of benefits and installation methods. Below we explore some of the most effective ways to insulate these crucial parts of your shed.

Breathable membrane

Firstly, if your budget can stretch, it is advisable to also lay a breathable membrane in between the shed walls and the mineral wool (or other insulating material). This will help stop damp penetrating through to the wool. Tack the membrane onto battens to make sure that it isn’t touching the shed wall as you need to leave an air gap for circulation; any dampness that does get through into the shed will then evaporate.

Then it is time to select an insulation material to place between your shed’s structural frames, we discuss these below:

Polythene and bubble wrap

The cheapest and easiest option for insulation for sheds is to use polythene or bubble wrap. However, bear in mind that it is also the least effective.

Bubble wrap can aid the spread of fire quickly through a wooden shed. It will also create moisture build up in the shed and papers may curl and metal sheds rust. It is a quick way to insulate but think carefully about long-term consequences.

Insulation wool

First, lay the wool in rolls against the inside of the shed walls between the shed framing. Then tack sheets of MDF or plywood boards to the shed framing to provide extra insulation and to retain the mineral wool.

Ensure that you wear protective glasses, a facemask, and gloves, when cutting it, to avoid irritation to your eyes and skin. If this puts you off, why not use a different type of wool?  Consider Thermafleece, which is purpose-made for this type of job.

PIR insulation boards

Fitting PIR insulation boards is a costlier, but far better option. This is a method commonly used in the building trade, so you will not have any problems finding boards to fit between your shed’s frames. Cut them to size, if necessary, and then simply push them into place.

Similar methods can be used for insulating the roof as those suggested for the walls.

Insulating the walls of a shedInsulating the walls of a shed

What are five materials to board up an insulation layer in a shed?

Insulating your shed is a great way to make it more comfortable and usable year-round. Choosing the right material to board up the insulation layer is crucial for effectiveness and appearance:

  1. Drywall - offering a smooth surface, drywall is perfect for creating a clean, paintable interior finish. It is relatively easy to install and can be cut to fit any space precisely
  2. MDF (Medium-Density Fibreboard) - has a smooth texture, making it great for interior surfaces. It is easy to paint and offers a more refined finish compared to rougher materials
  3. OSB (Oriented Strand Board) - a budget-friendly option that provides good strength and stability. It is commonly used in shed construction due to its durability and ease of handling
  4. Plasterboard - plasterboard is popular for its easy installation and smooth finish. It is an excellent choice for creating a more polished interior look, but it’s not ideal for a shed environment where tools, lawnmowers and bikes can leave dents in it
  5. Plywood - durable and robust, plywood is ideal for a sturdy finish over insulation. Its versatility makes it suitable for both interior and exterior shed walls

How to insulate a garden shed floor

The most obvious and cheapest insulation method for the existing shed floor is to lay an old roll of carpet, preferably over a water-resistant membrane. If you don’t have any carpet lying around, stop at the next roadside skip and ask the builder if they plan to dump any. Carpet shops may offer off-cuts and end of rolls at cheap prices.

A more elegant, though costly approach is to go for underfloor insulation with a floating floor - one that is placed on pressure-treated bearers away from the damp ground, is the best option. Ideally, you need to have at least 25mm of ventilation space under the shed to be effective as insulation for sheds.

If you’re not installing a new shed, then this will obviously require some remedial work, or you could just add a false floor if you can cope with a small reduction in height. Non-flammable expanded polystyrene (one brand is Styrofoam) can be used to create a floatation floor. This is placed on top of your old floor (preferably with water resistant membrane underneath) and then a thin layer of plywood, cement board or something similar should be placed on top of the insulation and the whole lot should be screwed down. Alternatively, lay 25mm battens onto the membrane, add your chosen insulating material between them and then add the solid false flooring on top.

A close up of blue stripey carpet - perfect insulation for shedsA close up of blue stripey carpet - perfect insulation for sheds
A close up of some chipboard wood - great for insulating a shedA close up of some chipboard wood - great for insulating a shed

Insulating the shed door and windows

Pay careful attention to the areas around the doors and window frames when you insulate a shed. This is where a lot of your shed’s heat is lost.

A draughty door frame can be improved by tacking some rubber strips (about 3-4cm wide) on the inside of the frame to form a seal along the crack when the door is shut. If the design of your door can accommodate it, you could also try the ‘E’ profile weather strips that are always available in DIY stores. For any gaps, cracks, or holes, around the window frames, just use any tube of ‘liquid’ wood or hardening foam filler. Then use draught excluders, or even homemade rubber strips, around the doors and window frames to plug further gaps.

Shed window insulationShed window insulation

The single-glazed windows that are standard with most garden sheds are not designed to retain heat and they are also prone to condensation. A cheap solution that offers good results in all, but the coldest weather is secondary-glazing film that you stick to the inside of your windows.

For a hardier solution to wintery chills, DIY secondary-glazing kits can be a good solution to keeping out draughts and retaining heat. These are usually acrylic, or polycarbonate panes held in place on the original windows with some form of fixing strips such as magnetic tape.

You never know, once you have insulated your shed, you might just consider spending a little more time in there keeping it tidy.

Why not look at our garden sheds? Click here for more info.

The benefits of tongue and groove cladding

If you do not enjoy DIY and are simply in the market for a new shed, choose one with tongue and groove cladding for the best insulation for sheds.

Tongue and groove sheds are built from thick, interlocking boards, which leave no gaps, whatsoever, in the walls, floor or roof. This ensures superior levels of weather tightness and insulation.

Here are three of our favourite tongue and groove sheds. Click on the images to find out more.

10' x 8' Forest Timberdale Tongue & Groove Pressure Treated Double Door Apex Shed with Logstore10' x 8' Forest Timberdale Tongue & Groove Pressure Treated Double Door Apex Shed with Logstore
11' x 15' Palmako Martin Premium (88mm) Nordic Shed11' x 15' Palmako Martin Premium (88mm) Nordic Shed
10' x 6' Forest Timberdale Tongue & Groove Pressure Treated Reverse Apex Shed10' x 6' Forest Timberdale Tongue & Groove Pressure Treated Reverse Apex Shed

3 exceptionally well-insulated tongue and groove sheds

18' x 11' Palmako Olaf Premium (88mm) Multi-room Shed18' x 11' Palmako Olaf Premium (88mm) Multi-room Shed

1)    18 x 11 Palmako Olaf Premium Multi-Room Shed

This workshop shed is divided into 2 spacious compartments and boasts an incredible 88mm tongue and groove cladding, which makes it better insulated than most log cabins.

The floor and roof are built from 19mm tongue and groove, the former including treated foundation joists to protect the interior from ground moisture.

Other notable features include double doors, a separate single door, and a fully framed window.

Click here to view further information

11' x 15' Palmako Martin Premium (88mm) Nordic Shed11' x 15' Palmako Martin Premium (88mm) Nordic Shed

2)    11 x 15 Palmako Martin Premium Nordic Shed

Also boasting ultra-insulated 88mm tongue and groove wall cladding, this wooden shed sports clean, contemporary lines, which makes for an extremely attractive appearance.

The floor and roof are, once again, built from 19mm tongue and groove cladding, whilst the wide double doors are fitted with a laminated frame and a cylinder lock, ensuring excellent security.

Click this link to view further details.

12' x 8' Forest Timberdale Tongue & Groove Pressure Treated Double Door Combination Apex Shed12' x 8' Forest Timberdale Tongue & Groove Pressure Treated Double Door Combination Apex Shed

3)    12' x 8' Forest Timberdale Tongue & Groove Pressure Treated Windowless Double Door Combination Apex Shed (3.65m x 2.52m)

This garden shed is pressure treated for a longer life, backed by a massive 25-year anti-rot guarantee, and features premium 12mm tongue and groove cladding throughout on a 66mmx33mm frame.

Buy this garden building as a perfect solution to protect your garden valuables from dampness. Install with a wooden or plastic shed base kit and benefit from the compartmentalised approach to garden storage provided.

Click here for further information about the 12’ x8’ Forest Timberdale Shed.

Tongue and groove sheds for sale

If you are looking to buy a better-insulated shed, you are in exactly the right place because Buy Sheds Direct is the UK’s leading supplier of all garden sheds.

We stock a superb range of tongue and groove sheds, which are wonderfully weathertight and insulated, making them suitable for use the whole year round.

Shed insulation tips to maintain insulation efficiency

Maintaining efficiency when insulating a shed is key to its long-term functionality and comfort. Here are some shed insulation tips to keep it in top shape:

  • Regular inspections - check insulation occasionally (at least annually) for telltale signs of damage. These can include dampness or compression
  • Review insulation type - periodically assess if the best type of insulation available for your shed
  • Pest control - keep pests and rodents away. They often damage insulation material (e.g., gnawing). Seal any entry points they might access
  • Mould prevention - prevent mould growth on insulation, this will reduce insulation effectiveness and is a health risk
  • Repair gaps - fill in any gaps or holes. These could be in the walls or roof and arise where insulation may have settled or shifted
  • Check for water damage - inspect for leaks and various areas of water damage, particularly following heavy rain. Wet insulation is much less effective
  • Avoid compression - store items carefully to avoid compressing the insulation
  • Roof maintenance - the roof needs to be maintained and in good condition
  • Update aged insulation - replace any old or worn-out insulation materials. These may lead to a loss of insulation efficiency as years pass by
  • Seal windows and doors – check all seals around windows and doors are intact. Any gaps can lead to issues

Final thoughts on insulating a shed

An essential component of year-round comfort and utility for a shed is insulation. Thorough preparation is the first step of the how to insulate a garden shed process, which includes cleaning, fixing any structural damage, and making sure the sealing is done correctly. The correct insulation material is essential, whether you are building a new shed or renovating an old one. There are many options available, from more expensive mineral wool (great for thermal insulation) or PIR insulation boards to more affordable polythene.

Do not undervalue the role that windows and doors play in keeping heat in. A caulking gun, utility knife, staple gun, and tape measure are necessary tools when you insulate a shed. For the insulation to remain effective and long-lasting after installation, routine maintenance is required. In the end, a well-insulated shed is a worthwhile investment because it increases comfort and prolongs its useful life.

Contact methods

Our experts are available to provide shed insulation tips, and advice about insulating a shed or purchasing one of our metal sheds, plastic sheds, or wooden sheds or garden buildings (garden offices, log cabins, summer houses). If so, contact us using the methods below:

  • Phone - 0333 003 0514
  • E-mails – send these through our contact form
  • Text chat – available through the real-time text chat app

(Main image courtesy of CertainTeed)