The Complete Guide to Steel Building Insulation

Looking to insulate a metal building? You might be surprised to learn how far building insulation has come in the last 30 years. Keep reading to determine the best insulation for your metal building based on your priorities.

IMP insulation for steel building
9,600 sq. ft. (80×120) shop with IMP insulation.

Faced Insulation vs. Unfaced Insulation, What’s the Difference?

Before you can determine the best insulation for a metal building, it’s helpful to know the difference between faced insulation and unfaced insulation.

Faced insulation has a vapor barrier or facing material attached to one side of the insulation, typically made of paper or foil. This facing material helps to control moisture and prevent air from passing through the insulation. Faced insulation is often used in areas where moisture is a concern, such as in basements or crawl spaces.

Unfaced insulation, on the other hand, does not have a facing material attached to it. This type of insulation is used in areas where moisture is less of a concern, such as in attics or inside walls. Unfaced insulation can be used in combination with a separate vapor barrier material to provide moisture control.

The Basics (Tier 1)

An excellent place to start when insulating a building in colder climates is a basic insulation package with Rollover Insulation. This has long been the mainstay in steel building insulation consisting of a double-layer of faced blanket insulation and unfaced insulation. While it doesn’t boast the highest R-value on the market, it remains an effective choice to insulate a metal building.

Basic roofing insulation package.
A basic roofing insulation package

Tier 1 rollover on the walls, Tier 2 energy saver on the ceiling.

The Best Bang For Your Buck (Tier 2)

Perhaps the most popular insulation for colder climates, our Tier 2 package might also be the best bang for your buck. The modern insulation package is our Tier 2 Cavity Fill Walls with Roof Insulation, featuring a very respectable metal building insulation R-value. The unfaced glass mineral wool insulation provides great value without breaking the bank.

Wall insulation package.
Tier 2 wall insulation package
Roof insulation.
Tier 2 roof insulation

Before vapor barrier is installed.
Tier 2 insulation being installed.

Insulated Metal Panels (Tier 3)

However, if you’re looking for the future of insulation, the best insulation for a metal building may very well be insulated metal panels (IMPs). Composed of two metal panels sandwiching a foam core, IMPs provide an extremely effective barrier and boast a quick installation time and a sleek, modern look.

The panels can be made from a variety of metals, including steel, aluminum, and copper. The insulation layer is typically made from polyisocyanurate foam or mineral wool. IMPs are commonly used as exterior cladding, but they can also be used for interior walls and ceilings.

Tier 3 Insulated Metal Panel (IMP).
An Insulated Metal Panel (IMP) from Falk Panels Canada.
An aerial view of a metal building with IMP insulation installed.
A close up view of an insulated metal panel (IMP).
An interior view of an IMP building.

Advantages of IMPs

IMPs offer 5 significant advantages over traditional insulation methods in steel buildings.

  1. They are more efficient at insulating and have a more effective air barrier than traditional systems. The continuous insulation layer of IMPs can significantly reduce heat loss and improve the energy efficiency of a building. Typically 50 percent of your heat loss or gain in summer comes from air movement in and out of a building.
  2. IMPs are quick and easy to install, which can save time and labor costs during construction. The panels are prefabricated and can be easily installed on site, reducing the amount of time and labor required for installation.
  3. IMPs are durable and long-lasting. They are resistant to fire, moisture, and pests, making them a low-maintenance option for building insulation.
  4. IMPs can be customized to fit the specific needs of a building. They come in a variety of thicknesses, sizes, and colors, allowing builders to choose the best option for their project.
  5. No thermal bridging. The IMP’s cover other building materials with low R-values i.e steel

Overall, it’s easy to see why some are calling IMPs the best insulation for a metal building.

IMPs are some of the best insulation for a metal building.
Insulated Metal Panels by Falk Panels Canada

Potential Challenges of IMPs

While IMPs offer several advantages, there are also potential challenges to consider. First, they can be more expensive than traditional insulation methods. However, the energy savings over time can make up for the initial cost.

Second, IMPs may not be suitable for every type of building. They are most effective in buildings with a simple design and a uniform layout. Buildings with complex designs and irregular shapes may require custom panels, which can increase the cost.

Third, the insulation layer of IMPs can deteriorate over time, reducing their effectiveness. However, proper maintenance and inspection can help extend the lifespan of the panels.


Overall, insulated metal panels offer several advantages over traditional insulation methods in steel buildings. They are efficient, quick and easy to install, durable, and customizable. While they may be more expensive than traditional methods, their energy savings over time can make them a cost-effective option. As the construction industry continues to focus on sustainability and efficiency, it is likely that the use of IMPs in steel buildings will continue to grow and continue to consider them the best insulation for a metal building.

Are you planning a new build? Want to see what it would look like? Visualize your project with our easy-to-use 3D Design Tool. Just input your building dimensions and explore what a pre-engineered building could look like with a variety of door options, colors, or a mezzanine.

3D Building Designer preview.
Northern Steel Buildings rep Rick Friesen.
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