Insulating your attic
- Sheep Wool Insulation
- Staple gun and 1 packet of 0.5 inch staples (for rafter or stud wall installation)
- Drapers (or tough) Scissors
- Measuring Tape
Where to place the Insulation
If your attic space is only to going be used for storing items that do not need to be kept warm then it is only necessary to insulate the floor of the attic. If the attic has been converted into a room or you are planning to convert it into a room then insulate the roof, crawl spaces, knee (side) walls and overhead. This makes sure that you are only heating and keeping heat in the living space of your house.
Moving around your attic
If your attic does not have a floor installed, you must only put weight on the beams traversing the attic floor, called the joists. The material between the joists is usually made from plasterboard or light wood and is not designed to take weight. Do not step between the joists or you are likely to put a hole in the ceiling below and may injure yourself too. Using a number of strong boards laid across the joists is the best method to disperse your weight on the attic floor. Be also careful when standing up as low ceiling heights in your attic can often be a real headache!
Insulating your attic floor
To prepare the attic for insulation, thoroughly clean the floor space and vacuum between the joists to remove accumulated dust. This is a good opportunity to examine the attic structure for woodworm or dry rot and where necessary a specialist should be called to resolve any problems. Also check that the wiring is in good condition and that the conductive core is not exposed. Good lighting is required when insulating your attic, so if you do not have a light installed, plug in a safety light and hook it to a high point for maximum effectiveness.
Sheep Wool Insulation is perfectly safe to handle and requires no specialised clothing or equipment. If your attic is particularly dusty, you may prefer to use a dust mask during preparation. A helmet is also a good idea in protecting your head from hitting the rafters.
Sheep Wool Insulation absorbs moisture from the atmosphere during damp seasons and releases it during the dry seasons. For this reason, a vapour barrier is not required and the material can be placed between the joists, directly on top of the ceiling below.
The spacing between the joists varies with each type of house but 370mm is about average. This is ideally insulated with a 380mm wide roll of insulation as the excess will provide a snug fit between the joists. Start at the furthest point from the attic door and unroll the insulation to fit between the joists. It is advisable to leave about a 50mm gap between the insulation and the eaves to allow air to circulate through the attic. Lightly press the insulation into the space between the joists but be careful not to compress the material. Cut the insulation when you reach the end eaves, again leaving a 50mm gap for ventilation. When joining two rolls, press both ends tightly together to create a close join. Place the insulation under electrical wiring to avoid potential overheating and where possible, fix cables to the side of joists to keep them safe from harm. It is not necessary to insulate under the cold water tank as the warm air during the winter will keep the water from freezing. Make sure to also insulate the attic door and any loose and leftover pieces of insulation can be stuffed around pipes and any other areas that heat may escape from the room below.
Insulating your roof
For most insulation materials, one of the most important concerns in insulating an attic is the ventilation and airflow in the attic. Warm airborne moisture that drifts upwards from the rooms below will condense in the cold insulation materials and reduce their effectiveness. Sheep Wool Insulation actually absorbs this moisture, in fact up to 40% of its own weight before its performance is affected. For this reason, Sheep Wool Insulation can be placed directly against a breathable roof-felt in an attic and prolong the life of the timber rafters by drawing the moisture into its own fibres. As with insulating an attic floor, choose the insulation width greater that the width between the joists. This will allow a snug fit and will simplify installing the insulation.