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.
- I'd like to make my period home more energy efficient, but will internal wall insulation ruin my original features, and will I lose floor area?
- Internal wall insulation is a fantastic solution for period properties or listed buildings that would require planning permission for any changes made to the outside, or where the owner wants to maintain the authentic exterior appearance of the property. You don't need to worry about losing your original features or significant amounts of floor space, though. Modern internal wall insulation systems are extremely slim, yet ultra-efficient, and lead to minimal loss of usable floor area. Installing internal wall insulation does mean that fittings such as plug sockets and skirting boards need to be repositioned, so you'll need to make sure that any decorative features like cornicing or picture rails are carefully removed and refitted following the installation. Insulating the walls could reduce the annual carbon dioxide emissions associated with your home by around 2 tonnes and save £400 per year on your energy bills.
- Why wasn't my house built with cavity wall insulation and the right amount of loft insulation?
- Houses comply with the building regulations that apply at the time the property is built. Since the oil crisis in the early 1970s, the insulation standards in the Building Regulations have been progressively upgraded.
- I live in a rented property, can I still get my walls and loft insulated?
- Yes, people living in rented property can get their homes insulated, whether you fund it yourself, your landlord funds it or you get it funded through the Green Deal, but you must get the permission of the owner or landlord. There could also be a tax benefit to your landlord if he covers the cost - look at our LESA (Landlord’s Energy Saving Allowance) page to find out more detail.
- There is a lot of pipework in my loft space. Should I insulate the pipe work too?
- Yes, it is a good idea and many insulation installers will do this for you - it usually involves fitting foam 'jackets' over the pipes.
- What is loft insulation made of?
- Typically, loft insulation is a mineral wool made out of glass or rock fibers. You can also get natural loft insulation made of sheep's wool, hemp or cellulose which will remove the need for protective equipment,
- Free energy assessment
- Find an energy saving solution
- Get quotes from accredited installers