Floor insulation entails adding insulating material beneath the floorboards or the structure of the floor. Although it is commonly done when the floor is being installed, most floors can be retrofitted later on with the insulating material.
Why You Should Insulate Your Floors
Non-insulated floors lose up to 15% of heat from the house, costing you a significant amount of money in the long run. Your floor loses heat through the gaps between the boards, along the skirting and as a result of draughts. Insulating your floors helps to prevent this unnecessary loss of heat.
Insulating Your Floors
Different techniques are employed when insulating floors, depending on the material it is constructed from.
1. Timber Floors
These are the most susceptible to draught because the floorboards are often positioned upon wooden joists. There are two ways to insulate suspended wooden floors.
The first method entails gaining access to your floorboards from underneath. If this is possible, you can insulate your floors through the use of rigid insulating boards. These are inserted between the joists and held in place using battens. You can resize the insulating boards to fit the width of the joist using a saw. If you make them fit perfectly, you can overlook the battens and instead secure the boards by gently tapping them into a snug fit using a small wooden mallet.
In case you cannot access your floorboards from underneath, there is an alternative. First, you can lift the floorboards to the extent that the joists are exposed. Take this chance to replace any joist that is rotting. After exposing the joists, spread a net in between them and ensure that there is a bit of sag in the area hanging between the joists.
You should ensure that the sagging net does not touch the ground. The next step is to lay some insulating wool on the net between the joists. The wool should run parallel to the joists. Once this is done, the floorboards can be laid back onto the joists and the floor insulation job is complete.
In case the wool you have purchased is not the same width as the joists, it can easily be resized to fit perfectly. Generally, thicker wool provides better insulation and so you might want to opt for sheep wool, despite it being significantly more expensive. Nevertheless, it offers better breathability and is 100% organic so you do not have to handle it with gloves.
2. Concrete floors
The recommended method of floor insulation when it comes to solid floors is pre-installation. However, retrofitting them is possible although it might cost you a few inches since the floors will be a bit higher after insulation.
Insulating concrete floors requires the use of insulating boards made out of polystyrene material. Although the boards are easily cut and drilled, they offer high resistance to compression so they can withstand the pressures of being beneath a concrete floor. Furthermore, the material is an excellent insulator.
The first step is to lay moisture-prevention material on the floor after which the boards are laid together side by side. The boards should fit snugly and can be stuck together using insulating tape or glue. Finally, chipboard is used to cover the insulating layer. Chipboard is preferred because the tongue and grove connection it offers is very tight.
Insulation can be done without the need for hiring professional services. The materials can be obtained at any local hardware store at a fairly affordable price. Hiring a professional is costlier although it is more thorough. However, any avid DIYer can achieve the same results if the same level of concentration is applied to the task.