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Thread: Ceiling options for Pole Barn Workshops?

  1. #1
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    Ceiling options for Pole Barn Workshops?

    I am 95 percent done insulating my 30 by 48 pole barn. 11ft to the bottom of the trusses and at the peak it is about 16ft. The Roof and sides are insulated with mostly R-18 rigid foam type insulation and the entire thing is wrapped in double bubble radiant barrier. Comfort in the building is considerably improved. Electrical will be done in about a week and then OSB on the walls. In the workshop space(about 850 sqft) I will eventually add hvac, probably a Mitsubishi Mr Slim. I am considering adding a drop ceiling, thinking it will greatly aid in heating and cooling but having the open trusses is pretty nice. What do you guys think, drop ceiling or open?

  2. #2
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    Keith, I installed sheathing on the bottom side of my trusses in my pole barn shop (15'5" floor to bottom of truss), and then blew in 36" of insulation above it (36" is not a typo - the walls have 14" of insulation in them). I also painted the underside of the sheating white, which helps with light reflection. Overall, the system works extremely well.

    If you want exposed rafter, another option is to have spray foam installed on the bottom side of the roofing/roof sheathing.

    Unless you hyper-insulate the shop, I think that you're going to be pushing it a bit with the Mr. Slim ( I had one in my previous 24 x 32' shop, and it was about right). Even with my extreme insulation, it still takes 2.5 tons to condition my building (5,300 sq. ft).

  3. #3
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    I work for a post-frame construction company. If it were my space, I would finish the underside of the trusses (make sure they engineered the trusses to accept finish material weight). You'll have an easier time with heating/cooling, and light reflection. Also, unless you specified storage trusses, they probably are not built for any load - removing the temptation to begin stacking pipe and whatever else up there might be wise :-)

    Using steel siding (same as what is on the outside of your structure probably) is a nice choice. Goes up fast, easy to clean. Not really very noisy as some would have you fear.

    Side note: Trusses are designed to deflect a small amount under loads. Therefore, when you build interior partition walls there's a clip system that allows a secure wall connection to the truss while also allowing for that deflection. Your pole barn supplier should be well aware of this process.

    Good luck! Post pics!
    - Bob R.
    Collegeville PA (30 minutes west of Philly)

  4. #4
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    I used the steel siding on the bottom side of my trusses, in white. There's a grade called "liner panel" that is intended for interior use. I don't think my shop is any noisier than any other and the light reflectivity and single-step installation were good benefits.

    I have blown-in insulation above mine.


  5. #5
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    Scott,

    I am only intending to heat and cool the 850 sqft. I already have rigid insulation on the ceiling(not the bottom of the trusses). I do not believe the trusses are stong enounh to have much hung underneath them. Thats why I was thinking drop ceiling as it would be attached above the trusses, my understanding is that my trusses will support only a small load on the bottom, but are quite strong on the top.

  6. #6
    You could do like me and install a grid system with drop in ceiling tiles. My local bank was being remodeled, and they were taking the ceiling down. It was going to the dump. So I asked about it, and the crew said if I helped take it down, I could have it. So I got a free ceiling, and the crew used their trailer to haul it to my place and helped stack it. The only new parts I used was the angle which nails to the walls.

  7. #7
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    I don't have any facts, but I don't think you are going to save much weight if you use a suspended ceiling vs. using the steel. The steel panels are pretty thin and therefore pretty light.


  8. #8
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    I suspect the drop ceiling is heavier but can be suspended from the top, putting a load on the trusses the way they are intended to take weight.

  9. #9
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    That's a good point, I was thinking of the hanger wires being attached to the bottom chord.


  10. #10
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    I'm pretty sure it is a code violation, but you might check if you could apply 3/4" rigid foam with T&G edges. You can paint the foam and get decent light reflection. Of course a drop ceiling or light weight metal panels will have a much better "finish" look.

  11. #11
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    NW Missouri, USA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Joe A Faulkner View Post
    I'm pretty sure it is a code violation, but you might check if you could apply 3/4" rigid foam with T&G edges. You can paint the foam and get decent light reflection. Of course a drop ceiling or light weight metal panels will have a much better "finish" look.
    When I worked as a building inspector I suggested that people wanting foam plastic ceiling material held a burning styrofoam coffee cup over their head to sample the effect.

  12. I owned a company which built over 250 post frame buildings and also made roof trusses. Started more in building post frames building and the truss business overwhelmed it. With that said------I built a body shop 80 x 300 and the trusses were designed for 26 gauge metal and 12 inches of blow in insulation. I thought the body shop was loud and perhaps it my hearing but he installed metal interior walls and metal ceiling. Most of my buildings use metal building insulation and that seemed to work better than expected. However the customer was very very happy with his design and the results of the project, so perhaps i should not negatively comment.

    I agree with Gary Kman about exposed foam insulation.

    Note in my area it is cheaper to have a company install a drop ceiling system with insulation than you can buy the materials. Just a thought.

    Most pole building trusses have a low bottom chord load-------you might want to check the engineered sealed drawings-------If you have a load problem, can give you advice how to have truss company re-engineer the trusses in the computer to add additional load if there is already some excess safety factor.

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