Insulating a Loft Conversion
Loft-style living is the new urbanite way to go in terms of housing. The conversion of defunct industrial buildings in the United States back in the 1950s brought on a new bohemian way of living. The converted industrial buildings paved the way to loft apartments - great unobstructed spaces, adequate natural lighting and low rentals.
Today, the loft-style living has taken on a new form as more home owners are opting to extend their homes vertically. The need for more space has brought on the rise of loft conversion. Everybody wants a loft these days. The conversion is certainly catching on as even furniture manufacturers has brought on a new line of furniture especially for loft living. There are contractors who are specializing in loft conversion and loft insulation.
Insulating the Converted Loft
In regular homes, insulating the loft (the space between the roof and the ceiling of the top floor) is an important aspect in having a cost-effective home in terms of heating. Heat rises and has the tendency to escape from the cracks in the roofing system. Insulating the loft is the answer to this problem as the insulation will prevent the escape of heat and the entry of cold.
In a loft conversion unit, insulation takes on a new direction as the need to fully insulate the area: roof, floor and walls become imperative. Proper insulation will prevent the movement of heated air out the loft turning the loft conversion into a tightly insulated, ventilated, moisture-free and condensation-free space. The loft conversion designed and decorated according to your needs and insulated according to its highest standards, would then be a safe and comfort zone for you.
A loft conversion need to have floor insulation between joists, wall insulation on party walls and even behind stud walls, and in ceilings including in between rafters and dividing walls.
Two Types of Loft Insulation
There are two basic types of insulating materials; roll material and loose-fill insulation material. Roll material is made of fibreglass matting standard at 400 mm (16 inches) in width and at 5 meters or 9 meters per roll. Thickness varies at 100 mm to 200 mm. The minimum required insulation thickness in UK is 200 mm (8 inches). This roll type insulation is easy enough to apply even for a DIY-er.
The second type of insulation is the loose fill insulation material. This is composed of mineral wool or cellulose fibre. The material has the same insulating capacity as roll insulation. This is best applied by a qualified professional as special equipment is used to blow the insulating material into the surface to be insulated.
Under Floor Loft Insulation
Insulation between floor joists is necessary to keep the heat from escaping. A roll material is more convenient to use in this instance as it is harder to achieve the minimum 200 mm required insulation with floor joists that only have depths of 100mm to 150 mm. If loose fill insulation is to be used, the contractor should make the necessary adjustments as the joists for the insulation to reach a depth of 200 mm. Insulating the floor would serve as an acoustical treatment too. Normally it is best to use roll material that is at least 30-minute fire resistant, has thermal insulation, acoustic insulation and is CFC, HFC and HCFC free.
Before fitting the insulation make sure that all pipes and wires are cleared and out of the way. Clear the under floor from debris too as any sharp object can be damaging to a roll insulation material.
Ceiling and Wall Loft Insulation
As heat travels upward and has the tendency to escape through invisible cracks on the walls and ceiling, proper insulation of the loft is a must. It is highly recommended to insulation boards to maximise thermal insulation. The minimum required insulation is set at 200mm thick but for loft ceilings and roof walls, a 50mm (2 inches) foil backed insulation board is recommended. For a self declared DIY-er the work is do-able up to a certain point. When in doubt, it's best to consult a qualified contractor. The insulation work is, after all, crucial.
Rigid insulation boards fit tightly between rafters and between wall studs. This type of insulation is durable and could last a lifetime. The foil backing reflects heat and cold while the insulating foam has a very high insulating rate. This type of insulation is really suitable for exterior walls between foundation and roof, installed between sheathing and siding and under or on top of roof sheathing.
Check for Loft Insulation Safety
Insulation materials, especially that of glass wool, should be installed with care for they are skin and throat irritants. If you plan to be a regular DIY-er follow the necessary precautions for your own safety.
- Wear a mask to avoid throat irritation and wear gloves for hand protection
- Even when the weather's hot, always wear long sleeves and long pants to protect your skin from the insulating materials.
- Unroll or pour out the insulating materials gently so as to avoid loose fibres from being air borne.
- Open the package of insulation in the designated area only.
- Keep the hatch or door to the loft closed when installing the insulation
- Bag up any excess insulating material and dispose of properly.
- Throw out all used dust mask and gloves and wash used clothes (separate from the regular load) after the installation.
There are plenty of other synthetic materials that can be used for insulating your loft. For you to choose the best insulating material for your loft, it is best to have the place assessed by a qualified contractor. The contractor will be able to say if additional repairs on the roofing, flooring or walling have to be done. Once the contractor had made the necessary repairs then he would be able to say what kind of insulation your loft needs.
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