Insulation Is Always a Good Place to StartNo matter what your heating conundrum is, insulation is generally the best place to start. According to the National Energy Foundation, uninsulated wood floors may cause up to 10 percent of a home’s heat loss. Think of the air in your home as water in an aquarium—even the smallest leak can drain it. You simply don’t want the air in your home leaking, because it will ultimately be replaced with the colder air outside. This is particularly true for hardwood floors in the wintertime when the outside air is dry and lacking moisture because if the air inside your house becomes too dry, the heat from your HVAC system can actually warp hardwood floors, especially if they’re older. I’ve talked before about the best types of insulation to use during a remodel or in an attic, but I’ve never talked about the factors homeowners should consider when picking out insulation for their hardwood floors. These factors include:
- Crawlspace accessibility: If you don’t have access to your crawlspace, it changes your options when insulating your hardwood floor. Without a crawl space, you’ll only have 3 or 4 inches for insulation, which means you have to buy a more expensive type to get the best results. And, you’ll have to hire a professional to retrofit your current hardwoods. But, homeowners with a crawl space can see big heating improvements by installing better insulation on the walls of those crawl spaces, which is where the majority of air leaks are found.
- Pre-existing pipes and ductwork: It’s possible that there are pipes and ducts beneath your hardwood floor, blocking the area you need to get to in order to install installation beneath your floor. But, depending on your crawlspace situation, you may not need to install the insulation directly on the floor.
- Insulation material: For flooring, fiberglass insulation is almost always the right choice, because it’s noncombustible and permanent. However, there’s something to consider with flooring and crawlspace insulation that you don’t always have to consider when insulating walls in the house—it’s key to have the professional who is doing the job use polyethylene sheeting in order to create a vapor barrier that could potentially damage your floors.