After working for many years in the construction of residential cabins, we often face the question – is it worth insulating a wooden house? Therefore, in this article, we have decided to emphasize once again that it is difficult to find one answer to this question. The truth is that the extent to which a house needs insulation in a particular home depends directly on its use. Therefore, before making a decision, it is worth doing a good assessment of your personal needs and additional factors for which insulation of the house is important.
To make it easier to decide whether to insulate your residential log cabins, we highlight the 5 most important aspects to consider when making a final decision.
1. The purpose of residential cabins
Perhaps the main question to be answered when deciding whether to invest in the insulation of a log cabin is how much it will be used in the cold season? Although, at first glance, wooden houses have long been associated only with summer vacations, according to the opinion of maestrocabins.co.uk team, such an approach is very outdated. These days, wood-insulated houses are used both as holiday homes and as permanent homes.
So, if you appreciate relaxing in nature and the outdoor temperature seems to be the only reason for not visiting the log cabin in the winter – the insulation of the cottage is a worthwhile investment. However, if you use your holiday home mostly during the summer, temporary heating solutions for the cottage could also be a great choice. In this case, a fireplace or an electric heater is usually used – although the heat in the uninsulated garden house will stay much shorter and the heaters will need to be used more often, the temperature will certainly be good enough for shorter visits or short stays.
2. Wood that is used for construction
It is no secret that wood, as a material, has extremely high insulating properties – due to the low conductivity of wood, it can retain heat in the residential cabins no less than a brick or blockhouse. For this reason, in an uninsulated wooden cabin, heat is usually sufficient even on cooler summer days.
It is also important to mention here that the high quality of wood is extremely important for the insulating properties of wood. Therefore, even if you have decided to save by choosing an uninsulated summer house, maestrocabins.co.uk team does not recommend saving in another way. Only by choosing high-quality wood for your log houses, you will be able to ensure a great microclimate – it will be comfortably cool in the room in summer and warm in winter.
Assessing the climate in Lithuania, wood of coniferous is probably used most often for the construction of log houses in the region: pine, spruce, cedar or cedar pine, larch. Of course, first of all, the choice of these wood types is directly related to the population of trees in our country, but no less important are the specific characteristics of wood. For example, compared to spruce wood, spruce has a much higher resistance to temperature differences, so this type of wood is most often chosen for the production of building structures. The density of pine wood can ensure better mechanical properties of the building, and the wood made from it will also have better air circulation – it will breathe more. Assessing the essential aspect – thermal insulation, the insulation of a house made of spruce will be at least 10% better than a house made of pine, but the same house made of larch will be even 25-30% colder.
It is an interesting fact that both spruce and pine wood are significantly outperformed by red Canadian and Siberian cedarwood, which, thanks to their unique structure, not only retains heat very well. It is also known as a substance that cleans the air and the microbes in it extremely well. Cedarwood also has a very low coefficient of compression, so it practically does not give in to longitudinal and transverse rotation or shrinkage. Due to the low density and high air content in the wood structure, cedar has the lowest heat loss compared to other types of wood.
Every specialist of wooden residential cabins will agree that the big advantage is if you can take into account not only the type of wood but also where the trees grew, what time of year they were cut down (when choosing wood for constructions). For example, conifers can grow significantly depending on which forest is mixed, dense, or perhaps in the woods on a hill, in a swamp, or lowland – which is quite important for the strength and durability of the building. It is not uncommon for those who plan to build a wooden house to face the question of what time of year the logs are more suitable for a wooden house. It is well-known that the winter felling tree will be much drier, so drying the already assembled structure makes major deformations and large cracks less likely.
3. General insulation of a log cabin
Even if you decide that an insulated wooden house is not necessary for you, do not say no to the general insulation of a wooden house. The truth is that if you decide to insulate a wooden house, it is more or less guaranteed by itself, so you can enjoy having one less hassle. In the case of an uninsulated house, it is necessary to pay special attention to the overall insulation of residential log cabins, as it will determine how long the heat will stay in them.
Good insulation of a wooden house is no less important due to the dangers posed by moisture. It is also important to keep in mind that after the house is built, it will move for at least a few years. So, if the insulation process is not properly calculated, the materials used for insulation may be damaged and the work may need to be re-performed.
When thinking about the good insulation of a log cabin, the insulation of the floor is one of the most common problems in wooden houses, which is rarely solved by carpets on the floor. For this reason, even if you decide not to insulate the walls of a wooden house, it is worth choosing insulated floors. In particular, it protects the house from "cold bridges", which are extremely important for its overall inside temperature. It is also worth mentioning that polyurethane could be a particularly suitable insulation material to ensure a high level of floor insulation. This material is homogeneous and does not require additional sealing. Polyurethane adheres well to the insulating layer, so it usually allows to achieve much higher thermal insulation than with other materials.
It is also a must to know that when assessing the overall insulation of a wooden house, windows and doors account for as much as 25% and sometimes even 30% of heat loss. Therefore, if you decide that the insulation of the house is not for you, it is worth paying special attention to the quality and insulation of windows and doors in any case. Probably the most popular option that guarantees high thermal insulation are plastic windows and sealed doors. However, there are other ways to increase the thermal insulation to maintain the authenticity and style of a wooden house. In this case, the option of replacing the glass with a thicker one could be considered, and shutters are often used for the windows of wooden houses with poor insulation.
Another possible way to ensure the highest level of insulation of doors and windows is to apply a special sealant to the area where the glass is attached to the window frame, and the glass framing strip can also be replaced if necessary. As long as the outdoor temperature is not zero, a special insulation tape can also be glued over the entire perimeter of the frames. Cracks in the window frames visible to the naked eye can be plugged using cotton wool, paralon scraps, or other heating material. Particular attention should be paid not only to the outside but also to all doors that lead to cold rooms or hallways. Here, the main means of insulation could be to fill the gaps between the door frames.
Airtight ceilings are another factor that can keep heat longer even in uninsulated residential cabins. When warm air rises to the top, it is especially important that they are airtight and do not have even the slightest cracks through which heat could enter the field.
4. Regular maintenance
It is a well-known fact that, regardless of whether you have decided to insulate your summer house or not, regular maintenance of a wooden house is inevitable to maintain a great shape of it for many years. True, it is important to emphasize here that uninsulated residential log cabins require much more care during the winter season in comparing with insulated ones.
According to the specialists of maestrocabins.co.uk, the insulated walls of the house become especially important in terms of the condition of the housing pipes during the winter. In practice, there are often cases when the severe cold during the winter affects not only the outside of the house but also the pipes in the walls, which, if they do not withstand low temperatures, eventually simply explode. While good insulation of a home does not necessarily guarantee that you will be completely safe from the problem of damaged pipes, it becomes one of the first safeguards. In case the wooden log cabin does not have any layer of insulation, the special solution could be special cables used in the piping itself for their regular heating.
Frequent visits to your holiday home are likely to become necessary even if the cottage starts to accumulate moisture during the cold season, which is very important to control. Because too much moisture is a great medium for the development of both mold and bacteria that eventually cause various respiratory disorders, it is necessary to visit a non-insulated wooden house regularly and heat it with a fireplace or heater much often than in an insulated house.
5. Heating system
Insulated house or not, heating system in the house – an inevitable solution. Even if you spend little time in the cottage during the cold season, it is necessary to heat the summer house regularly. Only in this way will you avoid frozen pipes, frozen walls, and accumulating moisture, which in the long run can cause serious problems that could damage the structure of residential cabins.
According to the practice, normal heating of the wooden house is usually installed without any hesitation or consideration if the house is used in wither season pretty often. However, according to experts, in the wooden cottages, which are visited very rarely during the winter, the option of an electric heater or fireplace is usually chosen. It is worth emphasizing here that such local heating of the building is very temporary. With the help of local heating, it will take much longer to heat the premises, and the heat will leave the uninsulated summer house much faster than in the case of an insulated house. This means that heating the house will not only be a longer process but will also cost much more.