Could external wall insulation be the answer?

Ealing based SuperHomer Paul Loboda has done away with the dated pebble dash on his semi-detached 1930s property by covering it with external wall insulation giving the house a new modern look. In this video he talks about the process and the benefits.

The external wall insulation formed part of a whole house renovation that reduced the house’s carbon emissions by an outstanding 75%.

Installing external wall insulation around the existing features

Paul chose external rather than internal insulation as he didn’t want to lose any floor space. 100mm of polystyrene insulation was added to the exterior of the house in panels of around 600 x 900mm. The benefit with polystyrene is that is easy to fit and easy to cut. If walls are uneven the polystyrene can be cut to suit, making for a snug fit around doors and windows.

The pebble dash was not stripped from the wall. A wire brush was used to remove any loose stones and render, gaps and cracks were repaired and as the pebble dash was not thick and had been painted the surface was flat enough for the polystyrene to be attached directly to the wall. The insulation was then rendered to provide a smooth modern finish.

In Paul’s case there was no need move the gutters as there was a good overhang in the roof. The downpipes were adjusted gently to accommodate the extra 100mm. A thinner 25mm insulation product, Spacetherm aerogel, was used in awkward spaces such as behind the gas meter.

Two different approaches were tried when it came to insulating around the windows. On the front of the house the windows were left in their original position and the external window sills were extended to accommodate the extra thickness of insulation. To the back of the house in the living room the window was moved outwards allowing for a new deep internal window sill to be created on which ornaments now feature.

Benefits of external wall insulation

Paul reports a number of clear benefits to his external wall insulation:

  • Money saving – it helps cut heating costs
  • Comfort – it vastly improves your comfort
  • Warmth – your home stays warm longer

The first Christmas after their installation, Paul and his partner were stunned following a 3 week holiday to return home to find the internal temperature of the house had only dropped by 2-3 degrees despite the heating being switched off! Previous very high gas bills of around £120 – £150 per month, fell to £30 per month following the installation!

External wall insulation cost and warranties

The cost for installing this external wall insulation, at a time when grants were not readily available, was around £12,000 including £1500 – £1800 for the scaffolding required for the insulation to be installed at height.

Paul recommends a installer and subcontractors who are system trained and deliver products and work covered by a warranty.

The making of this video was supported by the Green Deal Communities programme. This scheme teamed up with SuperHomes to provide the public with an opportunity to visit refurbished homes and speak to homeowners about their experience of installing energy efficiency measures.

Visit a house with external wall insulation in Sep 2016
You can see external wall insulation at over 30 open home events around the UK this month. See our events listing for details and simply filter for ‘external wall insulation’. SuperHome tours and Q&A sessions will let you quiz the owners, so you can discover what worked and get frank feedback on anything that didn’t. Entry is free.  SuperHomes are older homes refurbished by their owners for much greater comfort, lower bills and far lower carbon emissions – at least 60% lower! This makes them a great source of ideas to help you green your own home.

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