How To Insulate Exposed Roof Trusses


How To Insulate Exposed Roof Trusses

No matter where you live, your house needs to have solid insulation in order to keep you (and your family) comfortable. A lack of insulation will make cold intolerable, increase your air conditioning bills, and even cause humidity to potentially harm your furniture and items.

With a regular roof, insulation isn’t a problem. The bigger issue comes around when you are dealing with a roof that has exposed trusses, cathedral ceilings, or specialty “open” ceilings.

To insulate the underside of the ceiling between rafters, you’ll want to add insulation to the exterior portion of the finished ceiling. Alternatively, you can use a layer of panelized roof sections or rigid foam between your ceiling and a layer of sheathing.

With the new trends towards warehouse-like homes increasing, the matter of insulation becomes far trickier.

Why Should You Insulate Exposed Roof Trusses

A little insulation goes a long, long way! Insulation helps keep your home cold in the summer and warm in the winter. Since it works to keep your home’s temperature steady, insulation is also regarded as a way to reduce heating and electric bills.

Basically, if you want to make sure that your area is livable, you will want to make sure that you have your ceiling insulated—and that includes your roof trusses. So, how do you insulate exposed roof trusses? There are a couple of options that you can use to get a little more insulation, depending on your layout…

The Finish Ceiling Option

If you want to keep your exposed roof trusses visible, then the easiest way to add some insulation is to add it to the exterior side of the finished ceiling. By keeping the insulation on the outside, it hides it from viewers while still keeping the insulation trapped inside.

To get this type of insulation started, you will need to nail tongue-and-groove boards to the finish ceiling exterior. The board type doesn’t matter, but you will need insulation paper to fill in any cracks between your boards that may show up.

Most people who use the finish ceiling option also make a point of adding additional boards to hide any insulation that could be poking out in the room’s interior. Both rustic wood and drywall have been used as a cover up.

Using Panelized Roof Sections

Exposed roof trusses are often an integral part of a room’s architecture and vibe. You can’t always use wooden boards to insulate it without taking away from the room’s ambiance. Thankfully, there have been a couple of technological advances that make it possible for you to get a decent level of insulation in typically difficult situations.

One of the more impressive advances deals with panelized roof sections known as Structural Insulation Panels. SIPs, as they’re called, are composed of foam insulation that’s placed between strand board. In construction, they’re regularly used as a way to double down on both insulation and sheathing.

With SIPs, the insulation doesn’t actually affect the look of exposed rafters or trusses. They literally help you build an entire layer of roofing/ceiling that gives you good insulation without the need for tongue-and-groove boards.

Light Insulation Only

Another option to consider would be to just stick to the bare minimum in terms of insulation. If you need minimal insulation, sticking a layer of aluminum foil or foam between your sheathing and finish ceiling could work. All you need to do to fix it in place is secure it with nails.

This kind of setup should only be used if you aren’t going to be using this room or structure as a main part of your home. Areas that will be used day by day will need more insulation, since climate control will be a major issue.

Built-Up Roofing

Let’s say that you need a higher level of insulation. That’s okay as long as you have a built-up roofing system. This system uses thick, two-inch boards to create a larger divide between the finish ceiling and the sheathing materials that constitute the roof.

Since this layout offers a lot of extra spacing, it’s easy to add some extra insulation between the gaps. Spray-in insulation as well as padded insulation can both work for this option.

When Should You Call A Professional?

I’ll be honest. Trying to do your own insulation is not something that is advisable unless you have extensive experience building houses—not to mention additional people to help you secure the structure of your home’s frame.

This isn’t redoing your walls or adding a stone garden to your home. It’s actually working on the very frame of your house, as well as the roofing. This is not an easy DIY project and should only be done by people who have a professional’s level of skill.

Even if you are experienced with roofing, we strongly suggest calling a team if any of the following are true:

  • You don’t have specialized experience with built-up roofing or panelized roof sections. Since exposed truss ceilings are known for being difficult to insulate, having some specialty experience is a must.
  • You do not have a crew to help you with the insulation. While a crew isn’t always necessary, having one will ensure that you will be able to work at a faster pace and actually be able to get it all done.
  • You’re not sure which method you want to use. Sometimes, it’s pretty easy to figure out which method would work best with your home. Other times, it’s not so clear. If you aren’t sure which method would be easiest or most appropriate for your home, hire a professional team.
  • There are already issues with your roofing that need to be addressed. This turns your insulation project into a more complex matter—one that is best left to the pros. Should your roofing issues remain ignored, it’s almost certain that you’re going to deal with leaks later on.

Our Final Take

Exposed trusses don’t have to mean a lack of insulation. There are several ways to handle this problem, all of which have their own perks and pitfalls.

If you aren’t sure if you can handle this project on your own or just don’t want to risk it, call a professional group to help you give your home the insulation it needs.

Isaac Atia

I am a home improvement enthusiast who enjoys sharing my tips and latest projects with other homeowners. When not working on the house, I enjoy playing soccer, hiking, traveling, and retail therapy!

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