Solid Wall Insulation
More heat is lost through solid walls than through cavity walls – up to 45% of the heat in a solid walled home is lost through the walls. Insulating your solid walls can save you around £345 per year on your heating bills according to Energy Saving Trust studies.
How it Works
There are two way of insulating solid walls:
- Internal Solid Wall Insulation – This applies the insulation to the inside of your home’s walls.
- External Wall Insulation – this applies the insulating material to the outside of your external walls.
It will depend on the situation which is best – internal insulation is cheaper, but takes away living space and is slightly less effective. You may also save money by installing internal insulation at the same time as carrying out other decorating work.
Do I have Solid Walls?
Solid walls are external walls built as one wall without a cavity. This was the common building practice before the 1930’s.
- If you home has brick or stone external walls and was built prior to 1920 it probably has a solid wall.
- The way the bricks are laid can tell you; if there is a cavity the bricks tend to be all laid lengthways, whereas solid walls have bricks alternately laid length ways then end-on (across the wall rather than along it so that one end is on the internal side of the wall and the other on the external side)
- If you are in any doubt your installer will be able to confirm exactly what type of wall you have and recommend the most suitable method of insulation.
If you don’t think you have solid walls, remember that cavity walls can be insulated too. Find out more details about insulating Cavity Walls.
Will it work on my home?
Yes, but here are some considerations:
- You should have a solid wall or a cavity wall that is not suitable for cavity wall insulation
- You will need to decide which is best for you; internal or external insulation
- Try to combine installation with other work such as re-rendering or internal decorating
Internal wall insulation
There are two types of internal solid wall insulation:
- Insulation board
This involves attaching insulation board covered in plasterboard to your walls. This will typically be around 60mm in depth but can reach 100mm. The boards are attached with either plaster or adhesive and the joints between the boards are also sealed.
- Stud wall
Mineral wool is used to fill a metal or timber studwork frame attached to the wall, which is then covered in plaster. This plaster can be replaced with insulation board. The frame will need to be at least 120mm, as mineral wool is a less effective insulator than insulation board. A stud wall may be ideal if your wall’s surface is uneven.
Both types will be able to support attachments such as cupboard units. For either type you will have to remove all door frames, skirting boards and other fittings before installation and refit them afterwards. Internal insulation will make any wall-based damp problems worse, so you should sort these out before installation.
External wall insulation
External insulation involves attaching a layer of insulation material to the outside of your house and covering this with a layer of cladding or render. This layer can be finished in a number of ways – it can be covered with brick slips or tiles, pebble-dashed or painted. External insulation should only be fitted if the external wall is sound.
Pros and Cons
- Internal insulation is generally cheaper to install but saves less money on energy bills
- Internal insulation will cause more disruption to your home
- Internal insulation will take up around 100mm of living space along all of your outer walls.
- External insulation alters the appearance of your house
- External insulation can increase the life of the wall by protecting the brickwork, and it will reduce draughts by filling cracks or gaps. It will also provide extra soundproofing.
- External insulation will require planning permission if your home is a listed building or you live in a conservation area.
- Reduce condensation on internal walls if fitted correctly
- Require good access to the wall for insulation
- Significantly reduce heat loss – by over 40% in many cases
- Be fitted by a professional installer
Ensure that your installer is a member of a recognised professional body. We will only recommend certified installers.
Costs and Maintenance
The Energy Saving Trust estimates that the cost of installation in a 3 bedroom semi-detached house will be between £5,500 and £8,500 for internal insulation. It is substantially more for external insulation, at between £9,400 and £13,000. If you are already planning work to your home this cost can be incorporated in the cost of your renovations.
The ECO scheme is a new scheme funded by UK energy suppliers due to launch at the end of January 2013. It offers loans to partially or fully fund any solid wall insulation installation, regardless of your economic circumstances. You can register your interest for the scheme here:
Just like loft and cavity wall insulation, there is no maintenance over and above what you would have to do to walls of your home anyway.
The annual saving for a 3 bedroom semi would be in the region of £445, and more for External insulation, being up to £475. Some estimates are more but this will depend on your home.
For Landlords there are tax allowances of up to £1,500 for insulation projects.
- Does cavity wall insulation cause damp?
- No, as the cavity insulation is generally water repelling, meaning water cannot cross from the external wall to the internal wall via the insulation - the only way it could cross is if another obstruction is connecting the walls. Before installing the insulation, the empty wall cavities are inspected for obstructions with a special tool called a boroscope. Any obstructions are noted and cleared by the installers before the insulation is injected.
- How do I know if I've got cavity walls or solid walls?
- Most cavity walls are identified by two factors. They are about 10½ to 12 inches (270mm - 300mm) thick overall (You can measure this at a door opening) and all the bricks visible on the outside of the wall are all 9 inches (225mm) long (except at corners and openings) (i.e. are mounted lengthways, with 'headers' or the ends of the brick only visible at corners and openings). Solid walls have repeat patterns of 4 inch (100mm) wide bricks as well as 9 inches (225mm) long bricks over the main area of the wall. The walls are usually a little over 9 inches (225mm) thick, although in larger properties the walls can be 13½ inches (330mm) thick.
- Can I install cavity wall insulation myself?
- No, this is because specialist equipment is needed to install the insulation into the cavity and it's important that the cavity is fully filled with the correct density of insulation. This is why only trained and approved installers are used, and this allows a guarantee can be given on the work. You will also need the work to be professionally done if it is being funded by any government grants.
- How do I find out how much loft insulation I have?
- Simply push a tape measure or ruler down the side of a piece of loft insulation until it hits the plasterboard ceiling and read off the depth.
- My loft has been fitted with floorboards - will this cause a problem?
- Not necessarily. You can lay the insulation once the floorboards have been taken up, and put the floorboards back over the insulation, or, if you prefer, you can have your insulation lain directly over the floorboards.
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