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Community and Q&A

Steel building shop area

knobhead | Posted in General Questions on

I would like to use a portion of a steel pole building to encapsulate a woodshop area that would be insulated and have HVAC. I’m told steel sweats at times, so does anyone have any feasible ideas as far as framework so as to not compromise or cause wetness/mold? And what type of barriers would be required?

This is climate zone 5. Should room area be offset from steel walls? I would be utilizing rigid foam, but in this application, would OSB as interior wall be acceptable–it works better as a wall to attach tools/shelves……any help folks??

Steve b.

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  1. 2tePuaao2B | | #1

    Could you describe the construction of the steel pole building? Are there steel panels mounted on steel or are they mounted to horizontal wood framing members? What type of floor and what is below the bottom edge of the siding?

  2. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #2

    If you plan to install insulation on the interior side of the steel frame, then all exposed steel members need to be covered with insulation, without any visible steel framing members to act as thermal bridges.

    You will probably need to frame up new walls to do this.

    There's nothing wrong with using OSB as the interior finish of your shop walls. As with any wall assembly, you need to pay attention to airtightness.

  3. steve bumpus | | #3

    Yes to horizontal 2x4 strips to attach steel. So if I use foil polyiso and reverse tape joints to inside, then empty 2x4 walls sealed with OSB(caulk in between sheets for airtightness), I should be all set?!?!
    Would I simply glue/caulk foil sheets to inside steel, then caulk tight 2x4 wall to polyiso? Guess that brings up next Q. What's best plan for ceiling? Screw OSB to truss system and spray closed cell between trusses, or is there cheaper/better way? Does it make sense when floor is poured to pex it, or just use a mini-split and lay down ply-floor for comfort?

  4. 2tePuaao2B | | #4

    Are you in the planning stage of the building, or is the building existing , but with no floor yet?

  5. steve bumpus | | #5

    just put up last week........

  6. Robert H | | #6


    How far along are you. Have you poured a slab? What is the orientation, could you use passive solar principals to provide some of the heat?

    My thoughts on steel buildings are to put a layer of spray foam on the steel. Then build a wall inside and fill will cellulose.

    How much of the time will the workshop get used. I would say the more it gets used the more important it is to go with a high level of insulation. The amount of use would also affect how you heat it. Radiant heat in a concrete floor wil be slow to warm and also slow to cool.

    I have seen an electric radiant heat for cielings made by Thermaray. It goes above the drywall and heats from above. I was told it heats up quickly. It felt very nice in the home I visited with the Thermaray. Since the heat is coming from overhead there is nothing to block its path and it does not take up any room. Since seeing the thermaray I have wondered why this could not be done with a hydronic system.

  7. Riversong | | #7

    Robert H,

    A radiant ceiling is possible with a hydronic system (though leaks may be problematic), but ASHRAE comfort studies have demonstrated that people are more comfortable with warm feet and cool heads and typically report discomfort if their heads are warmer than their feet.

  8. 2tePuaao2B | | #8

    A radiant ceiling also makes future lighting, electric or other alterations a bit more difficult. In a shop it's nice to be able run a screw or drive a nail wherever it's handy. Never know what you might need to hang a jig with.

  9. 2tePuaao2B | | #9

    Also might want to think about shop layout first, placement of electric in floor for equipment, dust collection etc. Great opportunity to get it right.

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