We have a safe room roughly 25' long x 7' wide x 10' tall. It has concrete walls with a metal ceiling and concrete covered porch above it. The room gets very cold in the winter, I suspect mostly due to the uninsulated ceiling. Right now we have an open door to your conditioned basement from the safe room. How would you recommend insulating the ceiling?

I have considered:

  1. Foam board attached to metal. I wondered if I could glue this up or would have to attach some other way?

  2. Spray foam ceiling. I am guessing that would cost much more than the foam board and wouldn't be something I could do myself.

  3. Putting a door in the opening to the safe room to slow the cold air. This would help but the room still shares uninsulated concrete walls with the rest of the basement.

With any option I have to deal with minor water leaks when water blows onto the porch and leaks through the concrete.

Thank you for any ideas and suggestions!

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  • 1
    do you want to finish the room? What's the point of insulating just the ceiling?
    – DMoore
    Feb 17, 2021 at 4:16
  • 1
    If you don’t insulate the ceiling, condensation will probably form and drip when a few people are located inside the room. (People give off heat and moisture (vapor).)
    – Lee Sam
    Feb 17, 2021 at 5:19
  • @DMoore hanging out for an hour while a tornado warning passes doesn't really require high levels of fit and finish. Maybe just a few cushions on the floor for comfort... And the point of insulating the room is to prevent the cold air from above transitioning through the concrete/metal roof into this room then spilling out into the rest of the basement.
    – FreeMan
    Feb 17, 2021 at 13:41
  • But what about the monitors connected to the weather TV as long as the TV lasts and the cameras looking out from each side of the house so you can see what's going on??? ;^) Perhaps a porch periscope as well??? ;^)
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 17, 2021 at 13:58
  • @DMoore mainly planning to insulate the ceiling since I figured there was more heat exchange there and most of the walls are underground, cool but not real cold. Mar 2, 2021 at 18:10

1 Answer 1


Given it's 10 feet tall a dropped ceiling and insulation batts would be the "most obvious" approach (to me) if you deal with the leaks from above by sealing them above. Come down to 8 feet with a grid and place batts on top of the panels.

If you let it leak, then you need to come up with a way to redirect the leaking before you hit the insulation, or use insulation that doesn't care (and costs more.) Something like a set of sloped 2x4 "rafters" to support a piece of plastic attached at the high side and directed into a gutter on the low side, then hang ceiling below them and insulate between.

If the concrete walls to the porch floor are partially above-grade and uninsulated inside or out, then they are also contributing to the cold, since concrete is a terrible insulator, at roughly R1 for 15 inch thickness. Concrete below grade transitions to seeing less extreme temperatures on the outside, but still generally below "comfortable" for people for much time.

  • I refuse to have a discussion about insulation into this room because I am jealous of it and I want proof that they have a hidden bookshelf door into the room - which should be prioritized over room comfort.
    – DMoore
    Feb 17, 2021 at 16:14
  • 1
    I kinda think it's more the sort of "safe room" that @FreeMan alludes to, but I agree that the secret hidey hole aspect is nice to contemplate, here from "the mountains seem to break up tornadoes, for the most part" country.
    – Ecnerwal
    Feb 17, 2021 at 17:25
  • @DMoore the hidden door is something I dream of. But currently there is only an opening where I have been planning to add a door, but I haven't justified the expense of the "hidden door" when it wouldn't blend in well with the unfinished concrete wall. Mar 2, 2021 at 18:08

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