Understanding the Costs of Building a Walk-In Cooler or Freezer

When it comes to expanding or upgrading your business, investing in a walk-in cooler or freezer can be a game-changer. Whether you’re in the food service industry, pharmaceuticals, or any other field requiring temperature-controlled storage, understanding the costs involved is crucial for effective planning and decision-making.

Factors Influencing Costs:

  1. Size and Capacity: The size and capacity of the walk-in unit are significant determinants of cost. Larger units require more materials and labor to construct, leading to higher overall costs.
  2. Insulated Metal Panels: Insulated metal panels (IMPs) are a fundamental component of walk-in cooler and freezer construction. These panels provide structural integrity, thermal insulation, and moisture resistance. Panel pricing is typically calculated by the square foot, with costs ranging between $6.50 and $10 per square foot. However, readers must be careful when considering that per square foot price, as it does not include other necessary items such as trim, hardware, or installation, which can add significantly to the overall cost. In some cases, these additional items will nearly double the total cost of the panels.
  3. Insulated Doors: Insulated doors are essential for maintaining temperature control and energy efficiency in walk-in coolers and freezers. The cost of insulated doors varies depending on factors such as size, swing vs. slider, manual vs. powered, and accessory features (e.g., view windows, heated thresholds). Doors can range from basic personnel swing doors to expensive high-speed roll-up doors. Most doors also required a strip curtain to maintain the environment.
  4. Display Doors: For walk-in coolers used in retail or display purposes, specialized display doors may be required. These doors are designed to provide visibility into the cooler while still offering insulation and energy efficiency. The cost of display doors depends on factors such as size, glass type, framing materials, and additional features such as lighting or anti-fog coatings.
  5. Shelving: Shelving is essential for maximizing storage space and organizing inventory within the walk-in cooler or freezer. The cost of shelving varies depending on factors such as material (e.g., wire, plastic, stainless steel), size, load capacity, and customization options. Investing in high-quality, durable shelving can help optimize space and improve operational efficiency.
  6. Insulated Floors: In some cases, insulated floors may be required for walk-in cooler or freezer installations. Insulated floors add an additional layer of thermal protection and help maintain temperature consistency. However, they can also significantly increase the overall cost of the project due to the additional materials and labor involved.
  7. Customization: Custom features and specifications, such as curbing, trim, door configurations, and additional accessories can add to the overall cost of the project. Difficult installations – for example, where panels need to be notched or installed at night, can double labor costs. Upgrading stock materials, like galvanized steel or aluminum, to stainless steel will present increases in cost. However, these customizations may be necessary to meet specific operational requirements and optimize the functionality of the walk-in unit.
  8. Installation: The cost of installation includes labor, equipment, and any necessary site preparation. Proper installation is essential for ensuring the structural integrity and thermal performance of the walk-in cooler or freezer. Working with experienced professionals who specialize in insulated panel installation can help streamline the process and minimize potential complications.


While the exact cost of building a walk-in cooler or freezer can vary based on project specifications,, a general breakdown of expenses may include:

  • Insulated Metal Panels: 60-70% of the total cost.
  • Insulated Doors: 20-30% of the total cost.
  • Insulated Floors (if required): Variable cost depending on size and complexity but can significantly increase project expenses.
  • Customization and Accessories: 10-20% of the total cost.


Investing in a walk-in cooler or freezer is a significant decision for any business, and understanding the costs involved is essential for making informed choices. By considering factors such as size, insulated metal panels, insulated doors, insulated floors (if required), customization options, and installation requirements, you can develop a clear understanding of the expenses associated with your project. Working with knowledgeable suppliers like American Insulated Panel, who offer cost-effective EPS foam panels with short lead times, can help ensure that you get the best value for your investment and a solution tailored to your specific needs.

As always, if you have any questions or need further assistance, feel free to reach out. We’re here to help you navigate the process and make the most of your investment in temperature-controlled storage solutions.


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