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Best Dog House Insulating Solutions (Cheap Dog House Insulation Ideas)

Insulation is essential to a warm interior.

Updated September 29, 2020.

Looking to insulate your dog house? Got a dog house that could use some help in the insulation department? Certainly, it’s a good thing your here because I’ve got everything here to help you keep your pup safe from the cold.

To insulate a dog house decide if you will protect the inside or outside first. Next, measure and calculate square footage of each side and roof. Select your desired insulation. Install and that’s it. But I’ll go into more detail and tell you a few tips I used as well. In a nutshell:

Install the insulation on the dog house. Cover in a weatherproof covering if insulating on the outside. If insulating on the inside, secure the insulation to the interior walls, roof, and floor. Cover as desired to give aesthetic appeal.

I’ve done all kinds of research to bring you all the info you could need to insulate your dog house. Therefore, look no further. In short, read on to find out how to insulate your dog house.

Interior or Exterior Dog House Insulation?

First, you need to ask is whether or not you want to insulate the inside or the outside of the dog house. I recommend insulating the inside. This will only be possible if two conditions are met:

Conditions For Dog House Insulation Choices

1) The dog house is large enough to accommodate the thickness of the insulation. For example, if the dog house is really small and tight for the dog, it may be difficult losing the interior space from the insulation. Certainly, this is dependent upon the type and thickness of the insulation.

2) If you were planning on re-skinning the exterior of the dog house, then it makes sense to insulate the outside. This is important so you don’t reduce the dog house interior space by adding insulation. If you’re interested in interior space and sizing, check out my article on dog house sizing here. Insulating the outside is always more difficult as you need to ‘hide’ the insulation or the dog house may not be aesthetically appealing.

Added Benefits To An Insulated Dog House

If you decide not to cover the insulation (assuming you are using a non-fibrous type) is as follows. You may not necessarily need to cover it. That is to say, as you may have limited views of it being that it’s on the inside.

Quick Insulation Basics: R-Value

According to Wikipedia, R-Value is the measure of how well a barrier resists conductive heat. The higher the R-Value, the better the insulation. R-Value can be calculated as follows: R-Value = The temperature difference between the warmer and colder surfaces of the barrier / the heat flux through the barrier.

The R-Value per unit of a barrier’s exposed surface area measures the absolute thermal resistance of the barrier.

The absolute thermal resistance is the quantity of temperature difference per unit of heat flow rate needed to sustain one unit of heat flow rate. In short, the lower the R-Value, the less the insulation works, the higher the R-Value, the greater the insulation works.

In comparison, a standard insulated house wall ranges from R-11 to R-15 depending on the insulation density used.

My Favorite Dog House Insulation Types

According to the US Department of Energy, ” Most common insulation materials work by slowing conductive heat flow and–to a lesser extent–convective heat flow. “

There are multiple types of insulation you can choose from to insulate your outdoor dog house. Speaking of the outdoors, I wrote an article you may find interesting about the best breeds for outdoor living. But, that is beside the point. The main types of insulation I recommend using for insulating your dog house are as follows.

1) Styrofoam.

1″ Thick x 3.67 sq ft of pink styrofoam insulation

Picking up different thicknesses at the hardware store is easy. Styrofoam is ridiculously easy to work with as well. For extruded polystyrene rigid sheet at 1/2″ thickness, an R-value is 2.5. For instance, if you were to use 1″ thick, it would give you an R-Value of 5.

2) Foil Bubble Wrap.

A roll of foil bubble wrap is shown in this file photo.
Foil bubble wrap insulation. It’s easy to work with and cheap.

Foil Buble Wrap (check price here) This stuff is awesome. It’s two layers of aluminum foil bonded with polyurethane for strength with a layer of bubble wrap on one side. It’s thin, easy to work with, and brings an amazing R-Value of 3.7. If you double layer this stuff, it will only be about 1/2″ thick and would give you an R-Value of 7.4. In short, it’s fantastic insulation for a dog house project. One roll and it’s usually only about $25 here in Canada. No need for gloves like fibrous types of insulation. Certainly, of course, this is one of the reasons I like this stuff so much.

3) Rockwool Insulation Panel, Foil-Backed.

Rockwool Insulation Panel, Foil-Backed
Rockwool Insulation Panel, Foil-Backed

At an R-Value of 4, this is pretty decent insulation. However, it also resists mold and is fire resistant. It melts at some ridiculously high temperature over 1200 degrees Fahrenheit. Subsequently, the issue I find with this stuff is that it is costly for the R-Value you get, and it’s thick. I still think a double layer of the foil bubble wrap is much more efficient and effective for our purpose here. In short, this thick wool “board” (check price here) works well if you don’t mind working with it.

4) Pink Fibreglass Insulation.

This stuff has a nice high R-Value. You can get this as high of an R-Value as 24 (R6.7 shown in image) from what I’ve seen. Again though, this stuff has issues. First, it’s horrible to work with. This stuff requires gloves, eye protection and I even recommend using a respirator. Another problem with this stuff is it is wrecked if it gets wet. Therefore, unless you’re going to seal your dog house really really well, I don’t recommend this stuff despite its amazing R-Value.

Insulating The Inside Of The Dog House

A bare interior of a dog house built by Jeremy Shantz is shown in this file photo.
A raw interior of a dog house ready for insulation.

Step 1 – Analysis

The first step is to figure out whether you are going to insulate the inside or the outside. Let’s take a moment and assume that your dog house can afford to lose up to an inch on each interior wall and ceiling. Insulating the interior of the dog house is always our best option. That is if it can afford the loss of a bit of space.

Most of the time, the dog house is large enough to insulate on the inside. I’m also going to assume that you are using the foil/bubble wrap type of insulation. Now if you really want it to be snug and cozy, I recommend using a combination of 2 layers of foil/bubble insulation and 1 layer of 1/2″ rigid styrofoam insulation. In short, doubling up layers of different types.

This combination will give you an estimated R-Value of 10. Certainly, this is pretty decent all things considered. Let’s continue the process into some easy to follow steps.

Step 2 – Measurements

Measure the length, width, and height of your dog house and calculate the amount of insulation required. For instance, if your dog house is 2′ wide x 4′ long by 3′ high, you will have the following sides to cover:

2′ x 3′, 2′ x 3′, 4′ x 3′, 4′ x 3′

Measuring the Roof

Certainly, that covers the four inside walls. For the roof, a flat roof is easy, just treat it as another wall. If your dog house is 2′ x 4′, then this is the measurement for your ceiling insulation.

If you have a standard style roof, an A shape in other words, then you treat the two sides like 2 more walls. The only other consideration for this style is that there will be two ‘triangles’ of wall left over that we haven’t yet accounted for. That’s the area where the roof meets the body of the house on two sides. So we have to measure that area.

Measure the height and width of the triangle. Then, in order to calculate the area, multiply the height times the base and divide by 2. So let’s say your 2′ x 4′ x 3′ dog house has a 3′ high triangle. This would make the whole dog house 6′ tall, but hey, it’s just an example. So we know the width is 2′ because that’s the width of the house. Next, multiply 2′ x 3′ which is 6, then we divide by 2 and we are left with 3 square feet for the triangle.

Let’s wrap up this calculation now. In addition, we have 2 triangles, so keep that in mind too. Here’s our final equation for the example.

(2×3)+(2×3)+(4×3)+(4×3)+(4×4.5)+(4×4.5)+{(2×3/2)x2}= 6+6+12+12+18+18+6=78 square feet=Our Dog House Area

So a 2′ x 4′ x 3′ tall with a 3′ peaked roof would take 78 square feet of insulation. Certainly, you would have a little leftover though due to the doorway not requiring any.

Step 3 – Pick Your Supplies To Insulate Your Dog House

Pick up your 156 square feet of foil bubble wrap ( remember we’re doing two layers ). Also, pick up some foil tape (check price here) that will be sold in the same area of the hardware store. It’s usually right by the foil insulation. Also, I also recommend picking up a roll of double-sided tape or a can of spray-on glue.

Step 4 -A 5 Step Insulation Installation Guide

Now you can either pre-cut all your sides or cut as you go along. I like to do one piece ‘wrap’ for the walls and make the seam in the center of the door. This allows the insulation to have minimal seams for air and thus heat to sneak through.

1. Pre-fit the insulation before applying any glue or tape to ensure you have the correct size before sticking it in place.

2. Once you’ve tested out the fit, subsequently apply your glue or tape to the interior walls and ceiling

3. Carefully set your insulation in place. Go slow, make sure you line it up right before it sticks in place, trust me on this. I can’t stress it enough to take your time and get it right on the first attempt.

4. Now that you’re good at applying the insulation, we will repeat with layer 2. Remember, take your time because you can screw up layer 1 if you do and might have to re-do both so think about each step.

5. Next, repeat steps 3-6. And voila, you’d just done a double layer foil/bubble wrap insulation job! You can add a layer of rigid styrofoam also using the same method to add even more protection. But wait, why do all this work if there is an open doorway, letting all the heat out?

Dealing With The Doorway

Measuring a doorway of a dog house.
Measuring a dog house door opening.

When dealing with insulating a dog house, the doorway is the single biggest source of loss of heat. There are a few ways we can combat this. In short, I like to use a couple of things based on my experience.

And what is that experience?

I worked in industrial equipment service for 15 years and a lot of our clientele were cold, food storage facilities. Most importantly, due to the high costs of refrigeration and food, it is vital to maintain temperatures in these sorts of facilities. Even having extreme temperature gradients between areas within a building is essential. Subsequently, what makes it even more challenging is having forklifts whizzing around with skids of produce or frozen goods, or whatever. This isn’t that dissimilar to our dog house doorway conundrum.

We want to make a doorway that the dog will be able to figure out and use, but one that keeps the cold out and the warmth in the dog house. I like to use a dual-layer system. Keep in mind that I live in Canada, and it gets darn cold here. Speaking about the cold, here’s a link to an article on the best breeds suited for colder climates. On the outside, a thin strip, cold temperature PVC strip curtain (check price here) works well. Then you can add a fabric curtain on the inside of the doorway. However, don’t put any fabric on the outside, though, as it will get wet when it rains or snows. That’s why we install the PVC clear strip curtain on the outside.

Pre-Made or Fabricate?

You can usually find these pre-made for dog houses, but if your doorway is an odd size, therefore, you may need to make your own. First, just search for some clear, thin, PVC strip material. Second, overlap the strips on a 50/50 overlap and you’ll have a great barrier. Show your dog house to push his or her way through the strip curtain with the use of a treat and your dog will do it on their own in no time. In addition, I wrote an article on heaters if you want to learn more.

Summary of Dog House Insulating

To sum up, the best way to insulate your dog house is to insulate the interior using foil/bubble wrap insulation. For example, using a double layer provides a typical overall R-Value of 7. Adding a 1/2 inch layer of rigid styrofoam will boost this R-Value typically up to 10. Adding a PVC strip curtain to the doorway and a fabric curtain on the inside maximizes the conservation of heat within the dog house. In short, this is an easy and cost-effective solution for insulating an existing dog house in preparation for colder temperatures.

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