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Which type of floor insulation is right for your home?

Posted on 16 May 2016

Do you often find there’s a cold breeze tickling your toes? Well, you can do more to tackle this problem than simply putting on a pair of slippers. With about 15% of your home’s heat being lost through the floor, adding a layer of insulation beneath your floorboards can not only eliminate draughts, but will also reduce your energy costs. To get you up to speed with the ins and outs of floor insulation, here’s how to work out which type of floor insulation is right for your home.

Looking for ways to shrink both your energy bill and your carbon footprint? Check out our infographic on how you can make your home more energy efficient

What are the benefits of floor insulation?

Aside from reducing draughts around your home, installing floor insulation will save you money in energy costs. Average fuel bill savings vary depending on the type of property you live in, ranging from £30 - £40 per year for a mid-terraced house to £70 - £90 per year for a detached property. So, if you’re planning on living in your home for more than a few years, insulating your floor could be a worthy investment.

On top of saving yourself some cash, you’ll also be doing your bit for the environment. Insulating your floor will lead to an annual CO₂ saving of 120 – 160kg for a mid-terraced home and a 310 - 370kg for a detached house.

If you’re a dab hand at DIY, you might even be able to save yourself money by installing the insulation yourself. However, the feasibility of this not only depends on your skills as an individual, but also the type of insulation your floor will require.

Types of floor insulation

The age of your property will usually determine the type of floor in your home. Older homes are more likely to feature suspended timber floors, while newer homes tend to have ground floors made up of solid concrete.

You can check what type of floor your property has by either lifting up a corner of your carpet and underlay, or if you have a basement or cellar, by going down and looking from underneath.

Suspended floor insulation

A suspended timber floor is where the floorboards sit on top of wooden joists. If you have access to the floorboards from underneath, you can easily insulate them by fitting rigid insulating boards between the joists. To do this, cut the insulating boards to the same width as the joists, then use a mallet to gently tap them into place. If the insulating boards don’t hold in place, you can use battens to secure them.

If you don’t have access to your floorboards from underneath, you can still insulate them. However, you’ll have to take up your floorboards to do so. Once you’ve removed the floor boards, check to see if any joists have rotted and need replacing.

To insulate your floor, you’ll need to lay a net over the joists to prevent the insulation from touching the ground below. The net will need to sag enough between the joists to provide enough room for the insulation, but not so much that it touches the ground. Cut the insulation wool so it fits snugly between the joists and lay it so it runs parallel with them. Once you’ve laid the insulation, replace the floorboards as they were before.

The cost of insulating a suspended timber floor varies depending on whether you’re able to do it yourself or if you would rather get help from a professional. Doing the work yourself will probably only set you back around £100, however the cost of getting your floor insulation installed by a professional will usually range from £300 - £750.

Solid floor insulation

Insulating solid concrete floors is more expensive than suspended floor insulation and tends to be carried out when the floor itself needs replacing. To insulate a solid floor, you’d first need to lay a damp proof membrane, then cover it with polystyrene insulating boards. Ensuring there are no gaps, these boards would then be fixed in place with either glue or insulating tape. Finally, a layer of chipboard would be placed over the floor.

The cost of getting a solid floor professionally insulated is from around £950 - £2,200, so may only be financially beneficial if you’re planning on living in your current home for a long time. Another factor to consider is that with solid floor insulation, you’ll also lose a few inches of your room height.

When do floors not need insulating?

If you live in a flat and have another flat beneath you, you don’t need to insulate your floor. Likewise, you don’t need to insulate the floors of upstairs rooms in your house. Finally, if you’re thinking that floor insulation may not fit into your budget, you could also look into purchasing rugs or carpets to make your home feel warmer.

If you’re fed up of hefty energy bills, why stop at insulating your floor? Here’s our guide on how to insulate your loft

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