Who does not want to turn their balcony or loggia into a cozy warm corner where you can spend time with pleasure even in winter. If you carry out high-quality insulation, then a small office can turn out from the loggia, the continuation of the kitchen or living room, and on the balcony and in the cold season it will be possible to grow plants and relax, admiring the landscape outside the window. Of great importance is, first of all, the insulation of the floor on the balcony and loggia. What materials are used for this, and which ones are optimal for each specific case?
Before starting work on floor insulation, you should make sure that the balcony or loggia is strong. The structure must withstand a layer of insulation, and if in doubt, it is better to start work by replacing concrete slabs. A thicker layer of insulation is not always better – the floor should not be higher than in the adjacent room. Now let’s look at the most popular warrants for heaters.
# 1. Styrofoam
Polyfoam, or expanded polystyrene, has been used as a heater for a very long time and today, despite the appearance of many other materials, does not lose its position. Each of us knows what the material looks like: it consists of numerous balls, which, in turn, are built by their cells. The thermal insulation properties are due to the porous structure and the presence of air in these pores. In fact, the foam is 98% air.
According to the method of production, foam plastic is divided into two large groups: extruded and expanded. Extruded polystyrene foam is called penoplex. It consists of small granules, is difficult to cut, is devoid of many of the disadvantages of the foam we are used to, and is ideal for insulating loggias. Sheets can have a thickness of 2 to 10 cm, they fill the holes between the floor logs, the cracks are foamed, after which the finishing coat is laid.
The popularity of foam is associated with a huge number of its advantages:
- low weight, which simplifies transportation and installation;
- affordable price;
- excellent thermal insulation properties;
- sound insulation properties;
- does not absorb moisture, will not be a place for the development of mold and rodents.
- flammability, therefore, it is better to give preference to material impregnated with an antiprene composition;
- rodents can settle in the foam;
- instability to mechanical damage, therefore, insulation work must be carried out with some caution. Penoplex is almost devoid of this drawback, since, due to the smaller granules, it can withstand solid loads.
# 2. Mineral wool
Mineral wool is a whole class of materials, the production of which is carried out from mineral raw materials by heating it to melt, drawing it into separate threads and forming a fiber. If blast furnace waste was used as a raw material, then slag wool is obtained, if glass waste or silicon-containing rocks were the basis, then glass wool comes out. Often, rock wool is understood as rock wool, which is produced from basalt rocks. It has the best performance properties, and it will be about it.
Stone wool is produced in slabs and rolls, but it can also be in granular form and with a special installation directed to the insulated surface to fill all the cracks. In whatever form mineral wool is, its main advantages are:
- good thermal insulation properties. The coefficient of thermal conductivity is approximately at the same level as the foam, so the material will provide excellent protection and will not release valuable heat;
- the ability to pass air – the microclimate of the balcony will be in perfect order;
- noise insulation properties;
- resistance to mechanical damage;
- rock wool is not touched by rodents;
- affordable price.
The combination of all these advantages explains the wide distribution of the material. It is worth noting that glass wool and slag wool will cost less, but they are more fragile, and all work will need to be carried out in protective equipment.
Expanded clay is often used to insulate the floor on the balcony and loggia. This material is made from clay that is fired at high temperatures. The result is oval granules with a porous structure. The material is able to make even the coldest floor warm and comfortable, and this is exactly what is needed. When working with material, it is important to consider a number of nuances. Since expanded clay is porous, it is capable of absorbing moisture, therefore, the waterproofing layer must be durable and reliable. The material is very fragile and must be handled with extreme caution. The expanded clay insulation technology does not allow making a layer of insulation less than 15 cm, which must be taken into account in order not to get a floor that is too high.
Despite all the nuances of working with expanded clay, this insulation has a lot of advantages:
- light weight;
- low price;
- excellent performance of heat and sound insulation;
- fire resistance and frost resistance;
- environmental friendliness.
Penofol is one of the most modern insulation materials, which combines the advantages of foam and mineral wool, but at the same time the material is very thin, therefore it is optimal in cases where every centimeter of space counts. Penofol consists of foamed polyethylene and aluminum foil, and its action resembles a regular thermos. The material does not retain the warmth of the room, but reflects it. Penofol is produced in rolls with a thickness of 3-10 mm.
The main advantages of the material:
- the minimum thickness at which the thermal insulation properties are not inferior to other materials. So, a 4 mm layer of penofol can replace mineral wool 8.5 cm thick or foam plastic 3 cm thick. Space saving is obvious;
- the material does not absorb moisture at all, so you don’t have to worry about waterproofing;
- additional insulation. Penofol will reduce the load from acoustic and structural noise, which is more than relevant for balconies and loggias facing the street;
- maximum ease of transportation and installation. The material can be cut without fear of crumbs, secured with glue or tape;
- hard to reach for rodents;
- fire safety. Penofol refers to hardly flammable and hardly combustible materials;
- environmental friendliness.
Experts’ reviews say that penofol is one of the best and most reliable heaters at the moment. But some disadvantages are inherent in him. So, the material is quite soft, and when installing it, it is better not to use nails, so as not to violate the integrity and basic properties of the material. Despite the excellent properties of penofol, today it is usually used not as an independent insulation, but in a set with other materials.
For loggias and balconies, the number of possible heaters is greatly reduced due to specific conditions. You have to give up, for example, from ecowool, but foam glass can be used. In terms of its composition, the material is ordinary silicate glass, but the production method allows you to add unique properties. Glass waste is crushed into powder, melted, and due to the action of a gas generator in the form of coke or coal, the mass increases tenfold and acquires a porous structure. Not only is such a material much lighter than glass, it also has a host of other advantages:
- good heat and sound insulation properties. A 10 cm thick slab reduces the noise level by 56 dB;
- durability. The material can retain all its basic properties for 100 years;
- tolerates cold and heat well, temperature drops, does not change geometric dimensions;
- does not burn, because the basis is glass, which melts at a temperature of 10,000C, and does not ignite;
- the material is not afraid of water, but it is breathable.
Due to its high cost, foam glass is not often used to insulate residential buildings and, moreover, loggias and balconies. In terms of the aggregate performance, this is an ideal insulation.
No. 6. Warm floors as an alternative
The underfloor heating system allows you to solve a lot of problems of creating an optimal microclimate on a balcony or loggia. Firstly, you don’t have to think about other heating systems, and secondly, it will be pleasant to walk on the floor even with bare feet. However, in order not to heat the street, thermal insulation materials should be used in this case too.
The warm floor can be water, electric and infrared. It is problematic to use the water system on loggias and balconies, so they stop at the last two options. Electric underfloor heating can be of two main types:
cable system. Its use requires the organization of a screed with a layer of insulation and waterproofing. The screed must be at least 4.5 cm thick and the heating cable is located 3 cm from the top edge. The topcoat must have good thermal conductivity, so ceramic tiles are often used as it. It will be possible to turn on the underfloor heating system only after the screed has completely dried, and this is 2-3 weeks;
heating mats are used when it is impossible to organize a cement-sand screed. The mats are easy and quick to install, using tile adhesive, and can be installed directly on the old floor. The finishing can be absolutely any, the main thing is that the finishing material tolerates such heating well. Warm floors can be used immediately after the glue has dried. The disadvantages of such a solution are the high cost and the need in some cases to use an additional heating source.
An alternative to them is infrared film floors, which are extremely easy to install. Such a floor will heat the surrounding objects, and already from them the air will warm up. According to the same principle, the Sun heats our planet. With such floors, the microclimate on the balcony will be as healthy as possible. Anything can be used as a topcoat: linoleum, carpet, tiles, laminate.
The advantages of using underfloor heating will probably even be superfluous to list. Of course, electricity bills will be higher, but if you compare them with the payment for the constant use of electric heaters, then warm floors are still more profitable, and at times. The complexity of installation is often called a minus. This statement is partially true for the cable system, while the other options for organizing warm floors are as simple as possible and can be implemented on our own.