Ask the experts: draughty floorboards

Man laying floorboards

Q We’ve pulled up the carpets in our Victorian semi and varnished the floorboards but now draughts come through the gaps. How can we keep out the cold?

House Beautiful's Bridget Bodoano says:
It’s vital to allow air to circulate under the floors to prevent a build-up of moisture, which can cause damp problems, so don’t be tempted to block airbricks. Installing breathable insulation under the fl oor would reduce draughts. Insulation such as sheep or mineral wool comes in rolls and is easy to install. Solid sheets require more skill as they must be suspended on battens fixed to the sides of the joists and need to be cut accurately. The choice of insulation and installation depends on access to the joists. If you have a cellar or a large crawl space below the floor, you can cut and fit sections of wool or fibre between the joists from below, keeping it in place with netting stretched and fixed across the bottom of the joists. If access is from above, the floorboards will have to be lifted to fit the insulation. If the space below the joists is inaccessible but quite deep, netting can be fixed across the tops of the joists and the insulation fitted on top of the netting between the joists. If there’s little space under them joists, miss out the netting, but you may have to add extra insulation to fill the space. You can fill in narrow gaps between floorboards with thin slivers of wood. If the gaps are large it may be worth taking up the floorboards and re-laying them with tighter joins. Draughts also occur where the skirting meets the floor. If this area is out of sight you can use a filler such as Polycell Flexible Gap Polyfilla. Finally, a rug or hall runner will also help. You’ll find more information at energysavingtrust.org.uk and greenbuildingstore.co.uk.

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