Differences Between Floors And Their Insulation: Timber vs Concrete
Great floor insulation can enable you to cut back on energy bills, stay warm and comfortable at home, and prevent damp building up in your property. There are many products on the market today that enable you to properly insulate your home, however, there are also a few alternative insulation methods you can use in addition. You do, though, need to insulate your floor according to the type of floor you have in place, and this means there are a few important considerations involved.
Let’s have a look at different types of floor and the best way to insulate them.
Suspended Timber Floors
Suspended floors are typically an older style of floor that are known for being cold, especially in the winter months. This is because a suspended floor has a large air gap underneath which holds cold air. It’s also common for a timber floor to warp over time, which leaves gaps in the structure which can result in cold draughts. If a suspended floor is left uninsulated, it can leave your home cold and difficult to heat - from a comfort perspective, this isn’t great. Heat loss through the floor can be the most significant when compared to heat loss through the wall, ceiling, and roof; however, it is often the case that the floor is left uninsulated or insulated last.
Insulating suspended timber floors
Insulating suspended timber floors can be quite tricky. If your wooden floorboards are in good condition, you’ll need to remove them to insulate the underside and then reinstate them once the insulation process is done. When it comes to insulating suspended floors, there are two main options, these include:
Rigid board insulation - Rigid board insulation is extremely effective at insulating the floor, however, most people with a suspended timber floor will realise that the floorboards aren’t even and it can be challenging to fit the boards in between the floor joists. This is because the insulation comes in pre-cut sizes and it is difficult to mould it into smaller areas.
Mineral wool insulation - This type of insulation can be used as a more versatile solution. It is sometimes preferred over rigid board insulation, as mineral wool insulation can be placed easily between the joists. It’s also a high-density insulation that will fit snugly into spaces and will not decompress over time.
Solid Concrete Floors
A concrete floor is a flat slab which is formed of concrete. Solid concrete floors are usually dense and therefore quite good at insulating the property. However, it’s also a good idea to add extra insulation for the colder months. They are usually finished with carpet, laminate, vinyl or any other type of flooring material.
Insulating solid concrete floors
Solid concrete floors shouldn’t need as much insulation as suspended floors as they’re thicker and harder for heat to escape through. Insulating a solid floor is not an easy or straightforward job, and it is often quite time-consuming if you wish to excavate the concrete and insulate underneath. However, insulating over the concrete is a much easier process. You will lose a little bit of headroom, but it will save time and costs.
Before laying the insulation on the concrete floor, it is advised to add a vapor barrier to ensure moisture is controlled. They are designed to provide a thermal break and moisture barrier in crawl spaces. This can then prevent mould growth which will eventually damage your flooring structure.
The most common material for insulating concrete floors is rigid board insulation. Because a concrete floor is flat it is easy to install a flat board on top. They come in pre-cut boards which can be easily handled, therefore, you don’t need much experience to fit them. They are also one of the most thermally efficient insulation materials on the market. Luckily, they also keep the depth of the floor structure down, meaning excavation isn’t necessary.
Additional Ways to Insulate Your Floor
If your floor is finished with wooden flooring, laminate flooring, or vinyl flooring, they can easily become quite cold to walk on. In this case, it can be beneficial to think about alternative ways that you can take the chill off. These methods shouldn’t be thought of as a replacement for professional insulation, but they can be used as additional methods for insulating your home and adding a little extra warmth.
Insulate with thick rugs and carpets - Rugs on the floor will also help your feet to feel warmer and block off draughts, but they won’t solve all the problems. Carpeted floors are usually the warmest floor type, much warmer than tiles or laminate floors. The nature of carpet makes it a good insulator in itself. However, a thick, insulating layer of underlay underneath the carpet will further improve its insulating qualities. Rugs and carpet certainly won’t solve all of your problems, but they will certainly keep your floor and feet warmer.
Reduce heat loss by draught proofing - Filling in gaps and cracks is an overlooked part of the insulation process. Floors are particularly prone to gaps and cracks because of the joints and gaps between floor boards. Of course, filling in every gap isn’t possible but it’s certainly beneficial to give it a good go. It’s also really easy to draught-proof your home so anyone can do it. All you need is find some gaps, grab some sealant or caulk, and get to work.