Such a building cried out to be used for more than simply storing junk…
(Be assured, if you have any spare storage space there will be no shortage of people wanting to fill it!) The primary task to be carried out inside the barn was to de-clutter.
(Being a hoarder, this is something I find very difficult, so I rely on a helper who is ruthless in sorting out what can be disposed of. This makes the job a lot easier.
The “back of the barn” is very close to the wooded hillside. There is a narrow gap just about wide enough to fit a slender person! It doesn’t get much sun, and is a trap for fallen leaves. After clearing out a 2 foot deep accumulation of leaf mould, the wood was painted with Cromapol One Coat Instant Waterproofing, which contains acrylic fibres so that it also fills small holes whilst you paint. The front and sides of the barn were painted with “Osmo One coat” which protects the wood whilst allowing it to “breathe.” It comes in a host of attractive colours. You are meant to apply just one coat, to allow the grain of the wood to show through, so whilst it is quite expensive, one tin goes a long way. I have to thank my six year old grandson, who enjoyed helping with the painting!
To retain as much heat as possible, the mammoth task of insulating the walls commenced.
As with the roof, PIR insulation slabs were used to line the inside of the wooden walls. Their U value is good, they are easy to cut and they have high fire resistance, which is a crucial aspect. In the above photo you can see the wooden walls, and some of the Kingspan Insulation Boards which we used to insulate them, carefully cutting the board into pieces to fit between the joists so that the wooden framework is still visible, in order to retain the character of the building.
This was a time-consuming task. We found that a very sharp blade is the neatest and least messy way of cutting the insulation boards. The boards were secured with blobs of spray foam, leaving an air gap behind the boards. The most efficient means of using the foam is with a special foam gun designed for the purpose. After going through several guns which, despite buying gun cleaner and following procedures, still persisted in becoming blocked and unusable, I found a brilliant one made by Soudal.
The foil covering of the insulation was painted over with 3 coats of smooth masonry paint, giving a plastered effect. Although more easily dented, painting over insulation was less expensive than using plasterboard and plastering over it. It doesn’t produce a smooth finish, but as we were aiming for a rustic appearance, this didn’t matter. A quicker but more expensive alternative in terms of materials would be to use plasterboard with insulation already attached to it, but you would save on labour costs if you were employing someone to do the work. Be warned: Measuring, cutting, fitting and painting the insulation probably took up hundreds of hours!
After several trips to the local tip (or recycling centre as it is now called) later, and disposing of furniture through Freecycle, charity shops and Ebay, we had created a little more room to move about. Industrial storage shelves bought second-hand were filled with things I couldn’t bring myself to part with just yet…
and I have just bought more shelving for the garage, on offer at B&Q.
Meanwhile, the disintegrating felt roof was re-covered using Tapco slates, made of a lightweight composite material which looks just like real slate. Kingspan Insulation boards were fitted beneath the slates. Later, we added more insulation between the ceiling joists.
In addition to insulation under the slates, it was decided to also insulate the inside of the roof, again between the joists. Luckily we were able to buy seconds of insulation which were much cheaper and were the right width to fit between the joists. I found it easier to paint these before putting them on the ceiling. You could use other forms of insulation covered with wallboards, but we found this works well. Again, the insulation was stuck on with blobs of expanding foam, using a foam gun made by Soudall which doesn’t gunge up. This is much more manageable and less wasteful than using the canisters that squirt fan through a plastic tube. With the Soudall gun, if you don’t use the whole container at once you can just clean the dried foam off the nozzle and carry on the next day, or even days later. Luckily through Ebay we were able to buy seconds of insulation which were much cheaper and were the right width to fit between the joists. I found it easier to paint these before putting them on the ceiling.
As the weather turned colder, our thoughts turned to installing a log burner.
To heat the building, a log burner was installed, as it would be expensive to use just electric heating in winter, and we have no gas supply. We chose a large Charnwood Island 3 log burner in order to warm up the space quickly. This stove has a large capacity, so we could use longer logs, up to 50cms, which saves on cutting. It’s a multi-fuel burner so we are not limited to burning just logs, although that’s what we use, being surrounded by trees which often need cutting back. Fifi the cat now has a cosy place to take a nap.
I climbed onto the roof and painted the silver stove pipe black. Apart from aesthetic reasons, I had read somewhere that the pipe will be warmer and draw more efficiently, as black absorbs heat – something like that, but I have tried and failed to find where I read that! Perhaps someone could provide more info on this?
Cement board was screwed to the wooden wall behind the log burner for fireproofing, and we built a slate hearth.
We had a lot of leftover slate. Any ideas?
I had ordered far too much (having initially been told that regulations stipulated brick or stone behind the log burner – (not so, cement board is fine) but it came in useful to build a breakfast bar and a step down into the kitchen. And to use decoratively outside, but first there is lots more to do inside, so read on…