Sound Insulation Buyers Guide
Insulation is some of the most important components for any building, especially in the often volatile and unpredictable UK climate. Most homeowners assume that insulation is designed to keep your home warm, and while this is true, its true purpose is much more expansive. For example, all insulation is capable of providing some variety of noise reduction – reducing the amount of sound travelling in and out of a property.
This can be important for all homes, but is especially crucial in urban areas, where traffic, machinery, and crowds of people can make for a much noisier environment.
But insulation is also one of the trickier markets to navigate, especially if you have little experience with – or indeed little interest in – insulation. It’s not the most fascinating of subjects, regardless of how crucial it is, but it’s important to know all about all the different options out there to ensure you make the right choice for your project.
So, what acoustic insulation solution is right for your build? There are a lot of variables and influencing factors, and it can be difficult to keep track of them all. We’ve put together this guide to help break down the different aspects you need to consider when looking at purchasing acoustic insulation, including the main purposes you may require from it, the different types, and the installation methods that may be involved. All of these will influence your final decision, so let’s take a closer look.
The Purpose of Your Insulation
Simply put; why are you buying your insulation, and where is it going to be placed? These two questions are probably the most obvious, but they’re important to answer nonetheless, because no insulation is a one-type-fits-all product; if there was one, the other methods would be rendered obsolete!
Below, we’ve listed the most popular applications homeowners, DIY enthusiasts, and professionals purchase products in our sound insulation range. We’ll also break down the unique considerations for anyone looking to install insulation in these areas.
For the Walls
Walls vary in shape, size, thickness, and more. In fact, the diversity of wall types in homes across the UK is a major reason there are so many types of insulation to choose from. If you’re acoustic installing insulation for your wall, perhaps the biggest factor you’ll need to consider is the size of your wall cavity, or the gap within your wall. Is it larger or smaller? Is your wall external or internal? These are examples of the major influences on the best type of insulation for you. External wall insulation boards are ideal for outside jobs, while both natural insulation and rock wool insulation are versatile enough to be fitted into most wall cavities. If you’re limited in space within these cavities, consider acoustic insulation slabs.
For more information on types of sound insulation, check out our guide to the different varieties below.
For the Floors
Sound also travels through your floors, so you’ll want to install measures to prevent this from happening, especially if you live in a busy apartment building. Floors can be particularly problematic if you lack a carpet, which helps to stop some of the intensity of impact noises from the floor beneath your own. For additional prevention, install a softer underlay to accompany the carpet.
You’ll want an insulation that will fit between the joists under your floorboards. A range of insulation products will achieve this, with mineral wool one of the most popular choices due to its versatility and ability to conserve heat. Insulation slabs with acoustic control may also work, though wool is more compatible with the complex layouts that tend to be present in underfloor spaces.
For the Loft
Because heat rises – and often escapes through your roof – the loft is one of the most important areas to insulate properly. It is also one of the most convenient. Usually, all you need to be able to do is access your attic. For these reasons, it is best to get an insulation that is able to achieve sound reduction and heat conservation in one.
Plenty of insulation types are suitable for your loft, but wool insulation – whether natural or mineral – is by far the most popular. You can make the layers of insulation as thick as you please, and the wool is much more versatile, able to be packed into all the nooks and crannies a roof may possess.
For a Garden Building
Sheds, summerhouses, and garden offices can all benefit from insulation. All garden buildings can get particularly cold in winter, which makes them less appealing to use in the cooler months of the year. Newer models can have insulation built in, but the majority will require you to install it yourself. How easy it is to install this insulation will depend on the layout of the building, with some possessing wall cavities and others requiring you to construct them using your own tools and materials.
Most types of insulation will prove effective when applied to garden buildings, though the most popular tends to be insulation boarding. Rolls can also be used with relative ease.
For Your Pipes
Some tradespeople and homeowners recommend adding insulation to your pipes and boilers to reduce the noise emitted as water travels through them. This is by no means a crucial necessity, but there is plenty of evidence to suggest that has a positive effect. This is usually done with insulation wool wrapped around the piping, but specialised pipe wraps, and sleeve also exist, and are better suited for the job.
However, we’d recommend taking care when sound-proofing your pipes. Be sure to turn off hot water and be sure to follow professional steps in order to ensure that the job is carried out properly.
Types of Sound Insulation
There are two main types of sound insulation – the slab and the roll. However, there are subgroups that offer different features and capabilities. Below, we will go through all of the main types of insulation, and just how the different variants can benefit your home. Keep in mind however that all of these different insulations will cost different amounts, as they are all constructed from a diverse array of materials.
The two most cost-effective solutions are sheep’s wool and mineral wool, but they’re far from the only choices. These two types come in the form of insulation roles, which we’ll explore more below. The others can be more expensive but can be more efficient and offer a variety of secondary features such as noise reduction.
The following are the main types of available insulation:
Also known as insulation rolls, these are the most effective way to both reduce sound and conserve heat in your roof space, and also work fantastically in walls and floors too. Mineral wool, sheep’s wool, and glass wool are all produced in rolls. The densely packed fibres of these wools are very effective at absorbing sound, making them ideal for reducing noise pollution.
The other major insulation solution, insulation slabs are popular among tradespeople and homeowners alike because they are particularly easy to install. Solid and durable, they can simply be placed beneath the floorboards or within your walls like any other board material. They can also be cut into pieces if needed, and are compatible with a variety of frames, including timber and metal – the two most popular. What’s more, they are notably efficient at preventing unwanted noise from entering the home from outside and vice versa.
Multifoil insulation, while not as popular as slabs or wool, is a terrific solution in its own right. It is constructed from a variety of materials which include sheets, foils, and an array of insulating materials. All of these components combined make for an incredibly effective method of noise reduction as well as temperature control and yet multifoil insulation is one of the thinnest products on the market. It is particularly easy to handle, with transportation, installation, and even removal all incredibly simple and straightforward.
Fire Resistant Sound Insulation
One for the more safety-conscious, as well as an excellent choice for community and commercial builds, this industry-approved sound insulation has been specifically designed to help protect against the spread of fire. It adheres to UK building regulations, and many have a range of fire ratings and certifications to prove their effectiveness.
As mentioned above, there are numerous insulation products – particularly those produced in the form of slabs – that can help to reduce noise pollution. Installing this specialised insulation is sure to lead to a reduction in unwanted noise throughout the area in which the product is installed. This can be your loft, a room or two, or even the entire home, such is the versatility of this excellent solution for homeowners living in louder environments.
We have a number of insulation brands to choose from, each of which specialises in a particular range of insulation products. If you’re after natural sheep’s wool insulation, we heavily recommend Sheepwool. Meanwhile, Acuphon offers a number of different insulation solutions, including slabs, acoustic boards, tapes, and more. Profloor is a great choice for floor insulation, while Spacetherm provides a unique thermal blanket-like product, along with several accessories. All of our brands have been carefully picked to ensure you are able to pick from a selection of quality products, and we’re adding new brands all the time.
We hope you now have a clearer idea of what would make an ideal insulation for your project. From shapes and sizes to materials and features, there is a lot to consider, but when know what to prioritise and are aware of the different options out there, decision making becomes a lot easier.
If you want to know more about insulation types, or perhaps have a question about purchasing one of our products, don’t hesitate to contact our excellent customer service team. They will do their best to answer questions you may have, whether you’re in the planning stages of a future project or perhaps have run into a problem with your current one.