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Cold Storage Facilities

The Basics for Building Coolers, Freezers, and Cold Rooms

John Kirkland, a contractor outside of Lexington, Kentucky, was facing a reputation-ending problem. A meat packing facility he’d overseen constructing several months prior was failing. The insulated panel system John had chosen for the cold rooms were deficient, causing extreme moisture accumulation and extensive food damage.

In just a few weeks, John’s client lost over 5000 lbs of choice, USDA grade beef and almost $20,000 in unsellable inventory. Without immediate action, John’s business would take a drastic nosedive and ruin any chances at future work throughout the entire state.

If you were faced with a career-shattering construction failure, and had access to a panel consultant with over 10,000 successfully completed cold rooms and 30 years of experience – would you call for a consultation?

Choosing the right panel system – and the right panel supplier - is crucial for constructing a successful facility. When it comes to food processing and preservation, environmental stability is key, and a high-quality cold storage insulation system is necessary for ensuring product safety. Standard storage spaces are not up to the task of protecting thermally sensitive goods and, as our customer John found out, not all panel systems are created equally.

In addition to thermal control, insulated metal panels offer a wide range of benefits over the other insulation options on the market.

IMPs (insulated metal panels) are cost effective. Metal panel buildings have proven to hold up well with long-term use. The thickness and metal sheeting can be selected based on the facility’s needs, because IMPs can withstand extreme weather and operating environments. Insulated metal panels have higher R-values, which means superior insulating properties and greater energy efficiency. IMPs are also easier to install which means shorter construction times.

Competitor 1
Competitor 2
R-Value (4 inch, 1lb density EPS Foam*)
58 yrs
47 yrs
51 yrs
Installation Time**
6.8 Days
10.4 days
9.7 Days
*Greater values can be reached with higher density foam. **Based in the installation of a facility with an average 10-day build time.

Types of Cold Storage Facilities

Refrigeration Room
Cold Room
Walk-In Coolers
Walk-In Freezers
Chillers and Blast Freezers
Indoor Farming Spaces
Cold Storage

Air-tight, high-quality cold storage facilities are necessary for a profitable business. Industries that rely on controlled environments to safeguard the quality of their inventories differ across markets, but common insulated panel applications include:

  • Food Processing of Perishables (produce, meats, grains, nutrients, etc.)
  • Indoor Growing and Farming>
  • Pharmaceuticals and Cosmetics
  • Artwork and Film
  • Technology

Because each company’s application is unique, it is important to consider the various processes your facility will operate to optimize your new cold storage facility design.

Warehouse expansions often require cooler or freezer panels with customization options to fit the existing structure. When planning an expansion, be sure to choose an option that delivers a tightly controlled environment capable of fitting with the current structure.

In addition to choosing the right type of cold storage space for your business, you may need to plan for product processes that require specialized panels.

Caustic Chemical Exposure and Insulated Metal Panels

Are you using chemical compounds in your product processing? Varying levels of chemical exposure could require customized panel surfaces that will hold up in your demanding environment. An experienced panel consultant can help explore material, paint and finish options that will take the daily wear and tear of chemical processing.

Be sure to plan for all the accessories, trim products, doors, cooling units, and anything else you’ll need to complete your project. While items like walk in cooler doors and cooling fans are at the forefront of the planning process, it’s easy to forget the little things like caulk and screws, but they make all the difference when finishing your construction. An experienced panel consultant won’t forget to cover even the smallest detail.

What’s Included in a PermaTherm Panel Package

Insulated Metal Panels
Underfloor Heating
Pressure Ports
Engineering and Architectural Services

Professional Cold Panel Installer or DIY?

Just Because You Can Doesn’t Mean You Should

One of the primary benefits to using insulated metal panels is the ease of installation and quick construction times. Many insulated panels snap together to make the assembly process easier. However, one costly mistake a cold storage facility owner might make is choosing the wrong installer.

The most significant mistake our general contractor from Lexington, Ky made was installing the insulation for his customer’s meat processing plant himself. John had very little experience installing IMPs but had not reached out to a panel consultant or an experienced installer for help. The quality of your insulated metal panel product won’t matter if the system isn’t installed correctly.

Several questions you may want to ask your contractor before beginning your project are:

  • How long have you been working in the industry?
  • Are you familiar with cold storage construction?
  • Do you have experience with insulated metal panels?
  • Are you planning to self-install or use a certified IMP panel installer?

While planning your cold storage project with your panel consultant, ask about referrals to approved installers. An expert panel consultant will have access to a network of vetted tradespeople, across all disciplines, to ensure projects run smoothly and error-free.

Specifications and Data Sheets on Insulated Panels

When constructing a new facility, you may need data sheets or specifications for your engineering team before breaking ground on your new build.

A top-notch panel company will work hand-in-hand with engineers and architects from the beginning of the planning stages through to the end of project completion. Contact your panel consultant if you need any literature or documentation about insulated metal panels and their performance. An expert consultant should be able to provide you with any and all necessary technical information.

You can find several data sheets and specs about PermaTherm insulated metal panels here:

Undertaking the construction of a new cold storage facility can be daunting without the right input and expertise. If you are building a new cold room construction or expanding an existing cold storage facility, our PermaTherm panel consultants offer their expertise at no charge to you. Call 706-623-0530 or contact one today!