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Community and Q&A

Insulated / Airsealed Garage Curtain Wall?

Griffin728 | Posted in Green Products and Materials on

Hello, I’m wondering if anyone has experience with an insulated curtain wall to divide a workshop space from the rest of a garage. While the whole garage is to be insulated, it’s really just the back 16 x 22ft area that really needs to be comfortable to work in. I thought that this may be easier to air seal because there are no doors to deal with. It would still be used for vehicle storage, so it would have to be very easily moved. Translucent would be great too, but not required. Does anything like this exist at a reasonable price? Would it work, or would I still have the same air-sealing issues as a garage door? Side benefits might be sawdust / noise control / separation from vehicle storage.

Minneapolis, MN

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    I read your comment a couple of times before I understood what you are looking for. I think you want either a translucent curtain (like a shower curtain) or some type of accordion wall like you sometimes see at conference centers. Is that what you mean?

  2. Dana1 | | #2

    The term "curtain wall" has a very different meaning in architectural circles which leads to some confusion.

  3. Griffin728 | | #3

    Sorry for the confusion. Yes, I meant literally a flexible curtain for inside the garage. Thanks

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    If you want to install a flexible curtain, you can. Such a curtain will help retain heat to a very limited degree. However, such a curtain will have almost no R-value, and it certainly won't be airtight.

  5. charlie_sullivan | | #5

    I've sometimes thought about doing something like that. My conclusion has tended to be that is isn't very practical. But I'm usually up for brainstorming about trying to make impractical things practical. Please understand that the following is not sound advice like you'd got from Martin--it's just brainstorming.

    There are companies that make products like that for warehouses and such, and even some with air sealing systems and fluffy insulation inside. They tend to be expensive and tend to be made of flexible vinyl, which tends to contain plasticizers that aren't very healthful. There's also the question of whether a large flammable curtain is a fire hazard, and if so, whether toxic fire retardants added are a good thing or a bad thing.

    One material that might be non-toxic, air-tight, and non-flammable is the scrim reinforced aluminum foil used for radiant barriers. As a bonus, it would slightly boost the R-1 that you'd get from a simple curtain to maybe R-2. And if you are temporarily heating the work space with radiant heaters, it might help a little more than that as far as the mean radiant temperature of the work space. But I'm not sure it would hold up under repeated flexing. And you'd have to buy it from companies that sell radiant barriers, so you'd be supporting an industry that is largely based on inflated claims.

    In terms of setting it up yourself, you can buy systems for roll-up window shades, including very large sizes. Then you could probably rig up some sort of air sealing of the edges with magnetic strips.

    None of that really sounds very promising. A garage door with good weatherstripping is probably just as good as far as air sealing, and much better as far as R-value. Have you considered adding a garage door in the middle of the garage as the separator?

  6. Griffin728 | | #6

    Charlie, thanks for the brainstorm. I saw an industrial curtain advertised that used Thinsulate insulation. Since they didn't even bother to claim an R value, however, I'm guessing it's pretty close to null. I guess since I'm insulating the whole garage and already have an insulated door, I can just heat the whole place. I was just curious if anything existed. I suppose in the coldest whether, I could always use a tarp or plastic as an uninsulated air barrier and dust shield.

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