When it comes to applying thermal insulation techniques, floors are usually overlooked, since the insulation of façades and roofs of buildings seems more important. However, a large part of the energy losses in buildings (up to 20%) occur through floors, so the use of optimal insulation products is essential to guarantee maximum energy efficiency and inner comfort. Insulating a floor means adding an insulating material beneath the floorboards, thereby reducing heat escaping through the floor into the ground. Approximately 15% of heat is lost from a house via this route. Insulation also acts to prevent draughts coming up through the floorboards. In addition the household should also consider insulating the gaps between the skirting boards and the floor, which also helps in reducing draughts.
Floor insulation is most commonly done when putting a new floor in place, but most floors can be retrofitted with insulating material, and this will make a large saving to your overall heating bill.
Why Install New Floor Insulation?
Floor insulation is all about efficiency and making smart choices for your home or building project. Here are six main reasons to install new floor insulation :
1. Floor insulation helps prevent heat loss through the floors.
While insulation won’t make your floors actually feel warmer –that’s typically the job of radiant heat –less warm air will escape through the floors with insulation properly installed.
2. Insulation can help keep you cool in the summer months.
It’s well-known that hot air rises. By putting a barrier between the ground beneath you and your floors, you can help keep your home comfortable even when heat loss is the last thing on your mind.
3. Insulation can help dramatically reduce drafts.
This is most important for homes that have a crawlspace or are built above the ground. By filling potential air gaps, insulation can keep air from outside from entering your home.
4. You’ll effectively create a moisture barrier between the outside world and your floors.
This is especially important if you have natural hardwood floors in your home since they’re highly susceptible to moisture changes. Adding a layer of insulation can help prevent floor boards from warping or staining your wood.
5.Insulation can help keep pipes from freezing on those ultra-cold winter days and nights.
If your home has plumbing beneath the floors, insulation can provide a little bit of extra protection against the cold.
6. Floor insulation is an improvement in uninsulated spaces like your basement or garage.
Types of floor insulation
Each under floor insulation material has got its own specific properties and working method. Because of this, no single job is the same and you will always have to choose a different insulation material
Insulation boards-EPS sheets
EPS sheets, fully known as expanded polystyrene sheets, are one of the best floor insulation materials. They are easy to install and they have a high insulation value. Insulation boards have to be fixed on an even ground and they are pressure-resistant, so the floor won’t crack or collapse
As inferred by its name, insulation screed or insulating concrete is made of a combination of insulation material and cement. The insulation material exists of polystyrene granules with a diameter of 0.10 to 0.25 inches. Insulation screed must always be combined with another form of insulation in order to get a good insulation value
Polyurethane spray has the best lambda value out of all the floor insulation materials. It has a particularly good seal and it easily excludes every hole or irregularity. You cannot spray PUR yourself, as a result of which this material has a higher price than the alternative options. The main advantages of polyurethane spray are the free choice of floor insulation thickness and its quick installation
You’ve decided that floor insulation might be helpful in your home. Now you need to figure where to put it, right? In most homes, underfloor or under floor-covering insulation is the ideal method. While these two methods are designed to achieve the same goal, how they’re installed is quite different.
Insulation Materials Used for Flooring
Even if you do hire a pro, you’ll still need to know about the different installation materials used so you can make the right choice for your home. Here’s a quick primer on the two commonly-used floor insulation materials :
Fiberglass is a popular pick for homeowners and builders when it comes to floor insulation. Here are the pros and cons:
•Fiberglass is cost-effective. It can cost half as much as rigid foam.
•Fiberglass is lightweight. If you’re taking on a DIY renovation, this can be an important factor.
•Cutting fiberglass is a relatively easy process, making it a material that’s easy to work with.
•Fiberglass material can compress over time, making it less effective.
•This material won’t protect against moisture particularly well. This is a consideration if you live in a very wet climate, having piping in your floors or are installing insulation above a basement. Fiberglass may not be best option under materials like hardwood that can easily warp, either.
•Working with fiberglass requires protective equipment. Made up of many glass fibers, you’ll need a respirator, protective clothing and safety goggles to use fiberglass.
Rigid Foam Insulation
Rigid foam insulation is another popular choice for floors. Here are the main pros and cons to consider before installing rigid foam insulation:
•Rigid foam insulation won’t compress or warp over time like fiberglass.
•Rigid foam is rejects moisture, making it an ideal choice for floors like natural hardwood that could warp, mold or stain.
•You can use rigid foam insulation with a radiant heat flooring system. This can help give youthe warmest flooringpossible under-foot.
•Rigid foam is more expensive than fiberglass and can cost up to 50% more.
•Rigid foam is difficult to work with compared to fiberglass since it is much less flexible.
Insulating your floors is an ideal way to make your home more comfortable and energy efficient. In the case of hardwood and other materials that can stain or warp due to moisture, insulation can also provide protection. That same protection extends to plumbing beneath your floors.
Installation Tips :
A Snug Fit
Insulation batts should be installed snugly in between the timber floor joints. The batts can be held in place with tape if needed, or a layer of reflective foil can be installed (shiny side down) to achieve a greater benefit.
Under floor ducts for heating systems
If the insulation will cover underfloor ducts for heating systems, ensure that the performance of the ducts is not impeded by the installation of the insulation.
Acoustic performance or Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating
Most insulation products will provide a certain level of sound reduction as well as thermal insulation. Good acoustic performance could be important if you have a problem with external noise, as sound can enter the home from unsealed underfloor spaces. Heavier insulation products like rock wool tend to have the best sound reduction performance for a given width.
The structural integrity of products
Some products offer better strength and rigidity, encouraging a snug fit between the timber floor joists. Consider using these products for your underfloor insulation.
Carpet and rugs can add an insulating barrier between you and the cool air under your house in winter.
Insulating a concrete slab
Thermal mass from a concrete slab can be effective in winter due to its ability to store heat during the day and release it later. Thermal mass stores heat, either from direct solar radiation or by absorbing heat from the air.
Choose an insulation specialist and ensure yourself of a correct placement.