Concrete is the world’s second most used substance, beaten only by water. It’s hailed for its durability and strength while being cheap to produce and use. Despite its exceptional properties, it has a reputation for feeling very cold in the home, which makes many people wonder if they can put insulation over it.
You can put insulation over concrete walls and floors. The most common method to insulate concrete is to use rigid foam boards. Other insulation methods include using spray foam, fiberglass bat, and chipboard.
If you have a concrete surface you’re desperate to cover, I’ll tell you everything you need to know. I’ll discuss why you might want to insulate your concrete surfaces or structures, how to do it, and the benefits of adding some insulation to your concrete walls or floors.
Why Insulate a Concrete Surface?
Concrete is not an excellent insulator. However, because of its strength, it’s widely used to construct most homes in the USA.
According to concreteconstruction.net, 98% of basements contain concrete walls and floors.
If you have a basement, you will have noticed how chilly it feels down there, even on warm days.
Therefore, it won’t surprise you to learn that a whopping 10% of a home’s heat escapes via a concrete floor, with most heat loss occurring at the slab’s perimeter.
Insulating your concrete surfaces will regulate the room’s temperature and reduce the energy consumption required to heat your home.
Additionally, the insulation will enable you to use your basement and other concrete areas of your home in comfort.
How To Insulate a Concrete Wall
Insulating a concrete wall is relatively straightforward.
The materials are either commonly found in DIY stores or installed by a professional.
There are three main methods for insulating your concrete walls.
- Rigid foam boards: This is the most popular method because it is easy and cheap to install. You will place the panels against the concrete, then seal any seams using caulk and tape. However, this method is not as effective as other methods.
- Spray foam: This is the most expensive but most effective method. Get the professionals on board to install the spray foam as it requires specialist equipment to apply. The downside is the foam contains chemicals that aren’t great for eco-conscious individuals.
- Foam board and fiberglass batt insulation: This method involves placing foam boards directly onto the concrete and creating a stud wall over the boards to contain the batt insulation. While having fantastic insulating properties, this method reduces the room size more than other methods.
How To Insulate a Concrete Floor
Insulating a concrete floor requires particular consideration because it raises the floor level.
Therefore, you must be mindful of how thick the insulation will be.
Some of the more popular methods include:
- Foam boards: Like the walls, you can insulate the floor using foam boards. This method is cheap and effective. However, you will require a layer of chipboard above the boards plus your floor finishing, such as tiles or laminate, which significantly increases the thickness.
- Chipboard: A very cheap method is to lay the chipboard down and cover it with carpet or another type of floor covering such as tiles. While quick and cost-effective, it is less efficient than using foam boards.
When insulating your concrete floor, pay particular attention to the edges of the concrete slab, as this is where most heat loss occurs.
To understand how to insulate a concrete floor efficiently, check out this Youtube video:
What Is Concrete’s R-Value?
When you start looking closer at different ways to insulate concrete, you will notice something called the “R-value” frequently mentioned.
The “R” stands for “resistance,” and the R-value refers to the rating systems used to determine the insulation’s effectiveness.
Essentially, the higher the R-value, the better your insulation will be.
For reference, the R-value of concrete is around 1.23, while the R-value of foam board can be up to 7.0 or 8.0 per inch (2.54).
Is It Worth Insulating Concrete?
If you’re looking to save money on your energy bills, insulating the concrete in your home is well worth the investment.
Insulated concrete forms can save homeowners as much as $200 per year on their energy bills.
When you add that amount up over time, the savings are significant.
Furthermore, by insulating your concrete, you will have more usable and comfortable space within the home.
You can transform your cold and unwelcoming basement into the games room, spare bedroom, or home office you’ve always dreamed of!
Getting an expert involved is wise if you plan to insulate any concrete in your home.
There could be trouble spots, such as damp areas, that need addressing first.
It’s better to have the job done correctly rather than go down the DIY route and face further problems later.
Insulating concrete is an excellent idea, especially if you want to save money in the long run.