The Ultimate Floor Insulation Guide
Floor insulation can help to reduce your home’s carbon emissions, which is crucial as Ireland strives to cut emissions by 51% by 2030, before reaching net zero emissions by 2050 at the latest amid the ongoing global climate crisis.
Gaps in your flooring can actually be one of the main sources of heat loss in a home, so investing in floor insulation can help to improve the energy efficiency of your property.
Although wall insulation and loft insulation should be your first priority, floor insulation can have many benefits too. However, it’s important to make sure you’re using the right kind of insulation for the type of flooring you have.
What Are The Benefits Of Floor Insulation?
Installing under floor insulation can bring many benefits to your home. The average temperature of uninsulated flooring is around 11°C, but this can increase to a significantly more comfortable 20°C with the right insulation.
Meanwhile, data from the Energy Saving Trust suggests that the average household in the UK could save the equivalent of Є60 per year on energy bills by installing floor insulation - and potentially even as much as Є120 if you live in a detached property.
What’s more, research carried out by a team from the University of Sheffield and University College London found that heat loss could be reduced by as much as 92% in homes built before the Second World War following the installation of suspended timber floor insulation.
Study co-author Dr Sofie Pelsmakers, a lecturer in environmental design at the university, commented: “We’ve already seen how simple steps like improving insulation and reducing draughts can prove economical. In the future, ground floor insulation may provide another effective means to reduce energy consumption.”
Investing in solid floor insulation or suspended timber floor insulation will always have bigger savings in terms of both cost and carbon dioxide emissions than simply filling the gaps between the floor and the skirting board, although this can of course have benefits too.
Types Of Floor Insulation
Depending on the type of flooring you have, you’ll need a different type of floor insulation. The most common types of floor insulation are:
1. Suspended Timber Floor Insulation
Suspended timber floor insulation is the best type of insulation for wooden flooring, and it usually takes the form of mineral wool or rigid foam insulation. Suspended floor insulation can help to create a vapour barrier, stopping any moisture from soaking into the wood, which could lead to stains or even structural damage in the future.
To install suspended timber floor insulation by yourself, you’ll need to:
- Carefully prise the floorboards up to reveal the joists. To do this, you’ll need to use a chisel or pry bar; once you’ve loosened the board slightly, you should be able to insert a claw hammer into the gap to help you continue lifting it
- Make sure the area underneath your floorboards is dry. Address any patches of moisture and try to identify the source. If you lay insulation on top of moist areas, there’s a greater risk of insulation mould developing
- Check that there aren’t any sharp edges or old exposed nails that could pierce the insulation material, affecting its efficiency
- Try to make sure the space is as well-ventilated as possible while you’re installing the insulation to avoid any humidity and associated dampness forming
If you’re not confident that you have the skills to install suspended timber floor insulation yourself, or you can’t lift the floorboards and think they may need to be insulated from below instead, call in the professionals to help.
2. Solid Floor Insulation
Solid floors, such as concrete floors, typically lose significantly less heat than suspended wooden floors. The idea of concrete flooring may conjure up images of a grey, dark, unfinished-looking surface, but it can actually be stained in most colours for a stylish finish, and it can be polished to create a beautiful shine.
Concrete flooring is extremely durable, easy to maintain, and it’s resistant to both water and fire, making it a brilliantly hardy choice - although it can benefit from a rug to make it feel a little cosier underfoot.
Solid floor insulation can also help a concrete floor to feel warmer, alongside improving the energy efficiency of your home.
To install solid floor insulation for a concrete floor, you’ll need to do the following:
- Begin by adding a damp-proof membrane layer to the concrete floor to help reduce the risk of insulation mould
- Next, place your insulation layer on top of the concrete floor - rigid foam insulation is a good choice for this
- Then, cover the insulation layer with chipboard
- Finish by laying your chosen floor covering, such as linoleum, on top to complete the process
3. Tiled Floor Insulation
Regardless of whether you have ceramic, porcelain, granite, cement or marble tiles on your floor, tiled flooring will always be a little more challenging to insulate, as it’s naturally colder underfoot. Tiles made from ceramic or natural stone in particular are among the coldest types of flooring. However, tiled flooring is incredibly durable, meaning it may last significantly longer than other flooring types, and it’s water-resistant and relatively low-maintenance too.
Despite its naturally colder feel, you can bring more warmth to a room with a tiled floor by:
- Make sure any gaps between the floor and skirting board have been properly sealed
- Ensure you have adequate loft insulation to prevent too much heat escaping from the room
- Place a rug over the tiled flooring to add extra warmth and an additional element of cosiness
Carpet will always be the warmest flooring type, even without additional insulation. Wool carpet is one of the warmest types of carpet, but it can come with a high price tag. If you’re looking for a more affordable option that will still add a little extra insulation to a room, look for a carpet with a blend of around 80% wool and 20% manmade fibres - the thicker the fibres, the greater the level of insulation. Look for the same kind of blends when buying a rug too.
However, carpet can still benefit from a layer of underlay to add extra warmth, and you can choose from foam or rubber options. Fitting an underlay can also help to protect the floor underneath from moisture caused by spillages.
Here are a few tips to remember when you’re fitting carpet underlay:
- Both foam and rubber carpet underlays should be fitted with the coloured film facing downwards
- Pull the underlay as tight as possible to ensure there are no bumps showing under your carpet
- Carpet underlay should either be stapled down or secured in place with a specialist glue to avoid any slippage
5. Insulating Skirting Board Gaps
If you’re looking for a quick fix to reduce the amount of heat being lost in a room, closing the gaps between the floor and the skirting board can help to keep a little extra heat in. You can do this easily yourself with a sealant - look for one that contains acrylic caulk, as this is less prone to cracks.
Attic Floor Insulation
Another type of floor insulation you should consider in your home is attic floor insulation. You can either choose from:
- Loft floor rolls, which are easy to lay, as you simply roll them along the floor of your loft to improve its insulation
- Insulated loft floor boards, which typically feature a layer of polystyrene insulation and a layer of chipboard - you can add these on top of loft floor rolls to create a sturdy space for storage in your loft
Installing attic floor insulation could have significant savings when it comes to both energy bills and carbon dioxide emissions. Statistics from the UK’s Energy Saving Trust show that this could be as much as:
- Energy savings: £380 (Є457) on annual energy bills for a detached home, up to £165 (Є198) for a semi-detached property, and as much as £150 (Є180) for a mid-terrace
- CO2 savings: up to 1,310kg per year for a detached home, as much as 580kg for a semi-detached property, and around 530kg for a terraced house
How To Choose The Best Type Of Floor Insulation
When it comes to choosing the best type of floor insulation for your home, you’ll want to look for a material that’s pressure-resistant and therefore less likely to crack. Expanded polystyrene insulation (EPS) sheets are one of the best types of floor insulation because:
- Expanded polystyrene insulation can cope well with pressure
- EPS sheets are quick and easy to install, keeping labour costs low
- It has a close pore structure, which means it has a low water absorption rate, which makes it a good choice for floors that may come into occasional contact with moisture
At U Value, we stock EPS sheets from brands including Jablite, KORE, Mannock, and Styrene, so there are plenty of options when it comes to finding the right floor insulation for your needs.
If you’ve already insulated your walls but you’re still looking to make your home warmer and reduce emissions, you should also consider loft insulation.
Whatever type of floor insulation you’re looking for, and whether you’re planning to install it yourself or get the professional in to fit it for you, we’re more than happy to answer your questions, so please don’t hesitate to contact us here.