Insulation Buyer’s Guide

Whatever type of property you’re working on, it’s important to think about how you’re going to keep it warm all year round. With all new homes now required to meet specific levels of thermal performance, there’s never been a better time to consider which type of insulation is most suited to your project.

Effectively insulating your property can significantly reduce heat loss and save you money on energy bills. Sheep’s wool and glass wool insulation are popular environmentally friendly options, but you’ll find an abundance of choice on the market. Most materials are available in loose bags, rolls and slabs, which are perfect for insulating floors, walls and loft spaces.


Types of insulation

There are many different types of insulation available on the market including boards, rolls, slabs (also known as batt insulation) and even insulated plasterboard. Insulating your home ensures it’s energy efficient, and you’ll notice a reduction in heating bills too. While cavity walls and lofts tend to be the most popular spaces to insulate, floors, pipes and sheds can all benefit from insulation too.

Insulation slabs

Insulation slabs are a solid choice as they’re easy to install and have the added benefit of being fire resistant. ROCKWOOL is a renowned brand, specialising in thermal insulation slabs for timber frame constructions. Its slabs are known to fit with ease on both timber and metal frames too. They also have a selection of sound insulation slabs which reduce noise transfer both between rooms and from outside your home.

insulation slab

Loft rolls

When it comes to insulating your loft, one of the most effective methods is using loft roll. Glass wool, mineral wool and sheep’s wool are all great choices for roof spaces as they trap air which gives them their thermal insulating properties. This will make your home warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer, while also reducing any problems you may have with condensation.

Loft roll is available from leading brands, including; Isover, ROCKWOOL and Thermafleece. Acoustic loft roll is also an option if you’d like to reduce noise impact or protect your home from loud outdoor sounds.

Multifoil insulation

One of the newest insulation products on the market, multifoil insulation is a foil roll made up of a combination of sheets, foils and insulating materials. It’s one of the thinnest insulation products available and is easy to transport, handle and install. It’s also understood to be much more effective than more traditional insulation products as it focuses on radiation, conduction and convection. You’ll find more traditional insulation only takes into account conduction and convection.

Multifoil insulation can be used almost anywhere, from roof spaces to cellars, and is extremely popular with keen DIYers. It’s easy to install and has a long lifespan of over 50 years, making it perfect for self-build projects.

Full fill insulation

Cavity walls are one of the most popular wall constructions in Britain and have been used since the 1920s. They comprise two leaves separated by a clear cavity, which helps to resist moisture penetration and heat loss. Full fill insulation fills this cavity and has seen a surge in popularity as manufacturers began to produce moisture-resistant insulation for filling cavity walls.rockwool-full-fill-cavity-batt-100mm-3.28m2

Full fill cavity insulation needs to be both weatherproof and water resistant to protect against the elements. Our range of EcoTherm, Isover and ROCKWOOL full fill insulation products will have you covered.

Fire-resistant insulation

Adhering to building regulations and having the correct fire ratings in place are essential to any project. There are two types of fire-resistant insulation; non-combustible insulation, which retains energy while reducing the risk of fire, and fire-resistant boards, which create a solid barrier to prevent the spread of fire. There are also a number of additional accessories on the insulation market to help you achieve a safe fire rating, such as downlights and pipe collars.

Acoustic insulation & soundproofing

Acoustic insulation reduces both noise transference between rooms and sound travelling from outside to inside (and vice versa). It works by reducing the levels of transmission loss, preventing sound from passing through walls, floors and ceilings. Installing acoustic insulation means you’ll see a reduction in external noise pollution, such as car alarms and traffic, while you can make sure noisy films don’t disturb the children’s bedrooms by installing room-to-room soundproofing.

Acoustic panels, underlay and foam can all be used to reduce noise impact. There are also a number of products on the market which combine soundproofing and thermal insulation. Acoustic insulation slab is a good example of this, although it’s only suitable for pitched roofs and cavity walls.


Insulation materials

Once you’ve identified the spaces you need to insulate and the type of insulation required, it’s time to think about the best materials for the job.Insulation can be made up of a variety of fabrics and each serves a slightly different purpose. Wool is a popular choice, and there are three main types of wool insulation: rock mineral wool, glass mineral wool and sheep’s wool. These are all available in rolls so they’re simple to install and fit easily into wall cavities.

If you prefer to work with a more rigid material, you’ll find a number of insulation boards on the market. These are sold as sheets and can be cut to the size you require, so there should be little waste. PIR boards, XPS boards and EPS boards form the three main types of rigid board insulation,all of which can be used to insulate walls, ceilings and floors.

Insulation board materials

Insulation boards are easy to install and come in a wide range of materials and sizes. They offer a rigid insulation system, and with a choice of thickness available you can ensure you’ll find the most suitable option for your home.

PIR board

PIR insulation board (polyisocyanurate insulation) is created by blending materials together to make a single board of rigid foam.It’s a popular form of insulation and considered to be one of the most efficient on the market. It’s easy to install, benefits from along lifespan and is fire resistant. These three qualities make it a good insulation to use if you’re embarking on a self-build project.

XPS board

XPS insulation board (extruded polystyrene insulation) is water repellent and renowned for its extreme strength. This makes it a good choice for insulating floors, ceilings and flat roofs. Its moisture resistance means you’re less likely to encounter problems with mould and damp, while its long-term durability means its insulation properties won’t deteriorate over time. It’s also worth noting that XPS boards can be reused, reducing their environmental impact.

EPS board

EPS insulation board (expanded polystyrene insulation) is thermally efficient and one of the cheapest insulation products on the market. Unlike XPS boards, water can penetrate it but it’s still an effective insulator. It’s lightweight, quick and easy to install, and like XPS boards its insulating properties do not deteriorate over time.

Insulation roll materials

Insulation rolls are easy to install and work especially well in wall cavities. Available in three different types of wool, they’re one of the most commonly used forms of insulation in the industry.

Glass wool

Glass wool is made from a combination of sand and recycled glass. It’s manufactured to look like wool and is filled with numerous air pockets, giving it good insulation properties. It can also help with soundproofing and is often credited for being environmentally friendly, as it’s manufactured from recycled glass which otherwise would end up in landfill.

Mineral wool

Mineral wool is crafted from rock and raw materials that are melted down and spun into fibres, giving it the appearance of wool. It provides protection against fire and does a good job of insulating your home from both weather and noise pollution.

Sheep’s wool

One of the most popular insulation materials is sheep’s wool. It’s environmentally friendly and doesn’t burn, making it a safe option to use in the home. It’s also easy to work with and absorbs water, meaning you don’t have to worry about ventilation issues.


How much insulation do I need?

Current building regulations stipulate the need for at least 270mm of insulation in a loft to meet the required U-value of less than 0.16w/m2k. If your home was built in the 1980s you might find it has around 75mm or less of insulation in the loft. This was considered to be enough at the time, but is now below what we would expect to install today.

You can top up your loft insulation, but you need to weigh up the cost versus the benefit of doing so. If you find you’re spending a lot on heating bills, it could be beneficial to invest in a top up. If you’re keen on DIY and can do the job yourself, the installation costs will be much lower and it’s worth considering.


Understanding insulation thermal values

Insulation materials have two values, an R-value and a U-value. An R-value tells you how good a material is at resisting the flow of heat. A material that resists the flow of heat well is a good insulator and receives a high R-value. When it comes to insulating a building, the higher the R-value, the better the material is at insulating the property.

You can find more information on R-values and how they can be affected here.

In the construction industry a U-value is used to tell builders, architect sand engineers how good a material is at insulating. In the UK it’s widely believed that U-values are more accurate than R-values as they take into account conduction, convection and radiation too. To calculate the U-value of a material you divide the temperature difference inside and outside the material by the rate of heat transfer. As U-values work out how much heat has escaped, the lower the U-value the better.

You can find out more information on U-values and how to calculate them here.


How to install insulation

With so many rooms and spaces available to insulate, we’ve put together a series of handy guides to help get you started. So whether you’re thinking about insulating your shed or you have some pipes requiring insulation, we’ve got you covered.

How to insulate walls

Whether it’s an internal or external wall which needs insulating, our handy guide will talk you through internal cavity wall insulation, solid wall insulation and even which materials are best for the job.

Read our complete guide to insulating walls here.

How to insulate floors

If you’ve got a floor above a cold space, such as a garage, there are many benefits to insulating it. Our guide covers insulating solid floors,concrete floors and suspended floors.

Read our complete guide to insulating floors here.

How to insulate a shed

If you’re a DIY-pro insulating a shed is definitely something you can do yourself. It’s inexpensive and can transform your shed into a usable outbuilding.

Read our complete guide to insulating a shed here.

How to insulate a loft

From deciding whether to use your loft for extra living space to finding out which materials are best for insulating your loft, our handy guide will give you food for thought when it comes to embarking on roof space insulation.

Read our complete guide to insulating a loft here.

How to insulate a van

Not the first space you might think of insulating, it’s actually an inexpensive way to create a cosier atmosphere for campervans. It’s not a project for DIY novices, but if you’re a pro at self builds our guide runs through the best materials to use and how to fit them.

Read our complete guide to insulating a van here.

How to insulate a flat roof

Find out how to insulate a flat roof, including which insulation to use and when it’s best to tackle the job, in our handy guide.

Read our complete guide to insulating a flat roof here.

How to insulate a garage

If you’re converting your garage into additional living space, it’s a good idea to ensure it’s insulated. From cavity wall insulation to breeze block insulation, our handy guide runs through everything you’ll need to consider in this project.

Read our complete guide to insulating a garage here.

How to insulate pipes

This simple job was once forgotten about, but has seen a resurgence thanks to our increased focus on reducing emissions and improving energy efficiency. From preventing pipe freezes to talking you through how to install foam pipe insulation, there’s lots to learn in this handy guide.

Read our complete guide to insulating pipes here.

How to insulate a balcony

One that often gets overlooked, insulating a balcony is important fora building’s thermal envelope. Find out which products are suitable and what the best practice is for installing balcony insulation in our guide.

Read our complete guide to insulating a balcony here.


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