Choosing the right insulation for your self-build home is a delicate balancing act. It’s not just about choosing insulation that keeps your home the warmest; it’s about selecting an insulation material that compliments the timber frame technology you will use in your new home, is readily available at a good price, meets your sustainability goals, and meets your budget.

Choosing the right insulation for timber frame

Building with timber frame and using structurally insulated panel frame technology is the best way to insulate your home. This delivers exceptional energy-efficient building envelopes and helps to keep bills low for the lifetime of your home.

You should consider a series of factors before selecting the insulation method for your panel frame system, especially as there are many different options to choose from. Choosing the right insulation will help your project achieve the best thermal performance and moisture control of the building. Barn conversions, pre-existing structures and extensions all have varying requirements which you will need to factor in. And, you’ll also need to consider the breathability factor of your insulation and how it will interact with timber frame.

Opting to build your self-build home with a timber frame provider means you will receive bespoke guidance on your insulation choice, including suggestions on what will work best with your timber frame system and provide suitable breathability.

Choose a fabric first approach

A fabric first approach to your self-build project enables you to get the best building envelope and insulation you can afford.

Our three unique TechVantage systems have the ability to exceed regulations and deliver passive house performance if that’s what your project requires. Created within a precision controlled factory environment, insulation is manufactured and fitted to the timber frame panel before being delivered to site. This environment enables us to guarantee performance of the build system and insulation. Using this approach, TechVantage remains at the forefront of structurally insulated panel technology.

Which type of insulation should I use?

It’s important to choose the right insulation for your project. But if you’re new to self-build, you might not even know where to start!

The most common types of insulation used in the UK is polyurethane insulation which gives thinner overall wall solutions. It’s so popular, it makes up over 70% of the timber frame self-build market! Other popular alternatives include natural insulation options like glass wool or wood fibre.

Recently we have seen an increase in customers looking for natural insulation in uncommon materials to help them meet their sustainability targets. Examples of natural insulation include sheep’s wool, waste paper or plant-based products made from jute and hemp. It’s worth bearing in mind that natural insulations can be more expensive. And, their insulation status is often based on theoretical tests of thermal performance. As sustainable as they may seem, these choices often have a novelty quality; their popularity quickly wanes and their performance is unpredictable.

Regardless of which insulation method you choose, some architectural features of your home simply cause heat loss, including vaulted ceilings or floor to ceiling windows. It’s important to factor this in as you design your home and as you select your insulation.

Your insulation choice may also be affected by current costs and availability of the resources available. Frame Technologies has a strong grasp of the market and offers expert advice on how to get the best value from your self-build project, resulting in overall reduced costs in the lifetime of the building.

Thermal bridging and insulation thickness

It’s important to insulate your building in a way that reduces thermal bridging. Thermal bridging is when weak cold spots in the building envelope allow heat to pass through more easily via conduction. Instead of heating the building, heat is lost through transference to the envelope. This results in additional heat loss and can eventually lead to mould growth. Timber frame providers combat thermal bridging by placing the insulation on the ‘room side’ of the timber frame panel, improving the airtightness.

But, because insulation is placed on the room side of the panel, it’s also important to consider the thickness of your insulation material. The maths is simple: the thicker the insulation attached to the room side of the timber frame panel, the more internal floor space you will lose. If floor space is valuable, we recommend choosing a thinner insulation type that doesn’t eat into your floor space such as polyurethane insulation.

Sometimes insulation is placed between and outside the studs but this comes with problems; it could reduce the energy performance of your home or cause condensation. Using increased wall thickness alongside a natural insulation material such as glass wool creates a breathable solution. At Frame Technologies, we achieve this by using the latest twin stud systems, achieving incredible 0.1 U-values with minimal to no thermal bridging.

How much does it cost to improve the insulation?

The increased cost of insulation depends on the size of your house. For an external wall factory-fitted insulation approach, the cost could be around £2,000-£2,500 to take it from standard Building Regulations compliance to ultra-low U-Value levels. Considering the cost of current energy prices and the rises in the cost of living this investment will benefit your building immensely.

Standard Assessment Procedure

At Frame Technologies, our insulation solutions comply with any Standard Assessment Procedure (SAP) and calculation requirements. We are able to carry out SAP calculations (required by building control) to measure how well your home performs thermally.

Get in touch

We are able to provide budget estimates for projects in early stage planning or full quotations based on detailed drawings. Find out more here. We look forward to hearing from you.