Low Energy House - Loft Insulation Materials
The performance of an insulating material depends on the amount of air trapped within it. If that air is kept dry and still then less heat can get into or past the material and the higher its insulating capacity will be
Existing Loft Insulation Materials
If your loft space is already insulated there will probably be 50mm or
100mm thickness fitted between the joists. To comply with current standards more loft insulation
will be required.
In normal circumstances, it is advisable to top-up with loft insulation of the
same material as that already fitted. If you want to use two different insulation materials you
should consult the manufacturers of both types of loft insulation, as condensation can sometimes occur at the junction between two materials.
Loft Insulation Materials in a Cold Roof
Ventilated cold roofs usually have ventilators fitted in the eaves and in
the rafter feet to allow the outside air to flow naturally across the loft space. The free passage
of air helps remove condensation, prevents moisture entering the loft insulation material and stops
mould growth and rot affecting the timbers.
Loft Insulation Materials and Roof Ventilation
Where an existing cold pitched roof is already ventilated, care must be taken not to block the vents with the new or top-up loft insulation material. Where an existing cold pitched roof is not ventilated, a system of eaves vents should be fitted to provide an air flow across the loft space.
Loft Insulation Materials and a Sealed Roof - No Ventilation
If an existing cold pitched roof is being fitted with a new slate or tiled roof covering then it can be changed from a ventilated roof to a sealed roof by the inclusion of a sealed breather membrane at rafter level. In such cases, the loft floor can usually be insulated and no ventilation is required.
Top-Up Loft Insulation Materials
If the existing loft insulation material is in good condition it can be left in place
and another layer added to it to bring the thickness up to the level of the top of the joists. A further
layer of loft insulation material should then be laid across the joists at right angles to reduce heat loss through the
joists themselves. The top layer of insulation material should have a minimum thickness
of 200mm (8 inches).
Building Regulation Targets for Loft Insulation Materials
Whether you are installing new loft insulation material or topping-up old insulation
you should aim to achieve a minimum U-value of 0.16 W/m²K. A typical specification to
achieve this, with all new insulation, would be a total of 250mm (10 inches) thickness of a
mineral fibre. In the case of top-up it could be as much as 300mm (12 inches) total thickness.
Typical Loft Insulation Materials
Mineral fibre blanket or loose-fill are the most commonly used insulation materials in loft floors. Glass
wool and rock wool are both mineral fibres.
Blanket insulation is supplied in approximately 400mm and 600mm (16 inches and 24 inches)
wide rolls and a variety of thicknesses. Loose fibre fill is supplied in bags for hand filling or can
be blown into position, by a registered installer, using specialist equipment (guarantees for
this work are available from the registered insulation installer). Where loose fibre is used, whether
it is top-up or not, it will form one continuous layer of insulation material.
When you have chosen an appropriate system it is important that the
edges of the loft insulation material are lapped with the wall insulation to ensure continuity of the insulated
building envelope. Make sure the insulation does not block the air vents at the eaves