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Community and Q&A

Ventilation of workshop with tight envelope

John Haller | Posted in Green Building Techniques on


I live in Indiana and would like to build a 12’x16’x12′ workshop that will utilize the “Perfect Wall Review” found on youtube here:

I know this is overkill for a workshop, but I want to 1) use this as a building experience for when I build a home later. 2) will be working on electrical and solar projects year round, using the space as a kind of lab. 3) Because I like the challenge.

I don’t have unlimited funds, so would like to come up with an economical solution for properly ventilating and controlling moisture in the work space. I won’t have a shower or anything like that so I hope I don’t need anything big. Can you point me to some specific threads or resources that can give me specific solutions? I ask this way because I have seen so many posts and video walk troughs that I’m not sure if overloaded with info? I feel like I need some one to just say, “Here, look at this. Don’t reinvent the wheel.”

I appreciate your help.

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  1. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #1

    If you are ventilating a workshop, the type of ventilation system you need will depend on the type of work you intend to perform there.

    Will you be generating fine wood dust (for example, due to sanding)? Will you be generating chemical fumes (for example, due to auto body work or painting)?

    Note that the house in Matt Risinger's video has only R-36 or R-38 of roof insulation. That will work in Climate Zone 3, but it would be insufficient in colder climate zones.

  2. Charlie Sullivan | | #2

    Will you be heating and cooling the space?

  3. John Haller | | #3

    @Martin: I will be doing both woodworking and electrical, but will be working on the projects during different times, so the space will be cleaned before electrical type projects are started. I am mostly curious to gather and compare many points of data on my current home and this workshop. I know that the workshop will not have the proper amount of insulation for winter time, but considering my house probably only has between R-15 to R-20, I think it will be fun to see what the workshop can do with what I put on it.

    @Charlie: I will have to use a small space heater for the winter, but for most days of the summer, I believe that opening a window or two will help with the heat.

  4. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #4

    Designing a ventilation system (and dust-collection system) for a woodworking shop is an entirely different topic than designing a ventilation system for a house.

    It's a big topic. Here is a link to a relevant article: Dealing With Fine Wood Dust. If you do a little Googling, you'll find lots more articles on the topic.

  5. John Haller | | #5

    Thank you fro the reading suggestions. I have read a few of such articles already. I will read some more.

    Do I need to be terribly concerned about moisture build up with all external insulation? If I have a proper drainage plane/moisture barrier?

  6. GBA Editor
    Martin Holladay | | #6

    Q. "Do I need to be terribly concerned about moisture build up with all external insulation? If I have a proper drainage plane/moisture barrier?"

    A. If you follow the classic recommendations for a so-called "perfect wall," there is no reason to worry about moisture buildup. For more information on this topic, see Getting Insulation Out of Your Walls and Ceilings.

    I'm not sure what you mean by a drainage plane and moisture barrier. Building codes require every wall to have a water-resistive barrier (WRB), so that's essential. A rainscreen gap on the interior side of your siding is always a good idea -- perhaps that's what you mean by a "drainage plane."

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