What Are Internal Walls Made Of in the UK?
What Are Internal Walls Made Of in the UK?
In the UK, internal walls are constructed using a variety of materials, depending on the construction method and time period. Understanding the materials used in internal wall construction is essential for homeowners and builders alike. Let’s explore the common materials used for internal walls in the UK.
When it comes to internal walls in the UK, there are two main types that you will come across: solid walls and cavity walls. Each type has its own unique characteristics and benefits.
- Internal walls in the UK can be made of various materials, including solid bricks, lightweight concrete blocks, cob, concrete/prefabricated walls, timber frame, and steel frame construction.
- Solid walls, commonly found in houses built before the 1930s, are made of solid brick and offer good thermal properties but are prone to water penetration and heat loss.
- Cavity walls, popular since the 1930s, consist of an outer masonry skin and an inner masonry skin separated by a small gap. They provide better thermal efficiency and can be made of lightweight concrete blocks or bricks.
- Other materials used for internal walls in the UK include cob, a sustainable material made of clay, sand, straw, and water; concrete/prefabricated walls, which are cost-efficient and offer excellent thermal efficiency; timber frame construction, known for its excellent insulation but susceptible to pest infestations and rot; and steel frame construction, which is durable and low maintenance.
Solid Brick Wall Construction
Solid brick walls, commonly found in houses built before the 1930s, are 215 mm thick and have both the long face and the short face of the bricks showing. These walls have several benefits, including ease of maintenance, good thermal properties, and fire resistance. However, there are also some problems associated with solid brick walls that need to be addressed.
One of the main issues with solid brick walls is their vulnerability to external weather elements. They do not provide strong protection against moisture intrusion and are prone to water penetration and dampness. In fact, solid brick walls contribute to about half of all heat loss in a building, making them less energy-efficient.
Insulating solid walls is essential to improve their thermal efficiency, lower heating costs, and enhance comfort. There are different insulation options available for solid brick walls, including internal and external insulation. Applying insulation from the inside involves adding insulation boards or stud walls to the interior surface of the wall.
On the other hand, external insulation involves fixing insulation boards and render to the outer surface of the wall. Both methods provide effective insulation, helping to reduce heat loss and improve energy efficiency.
Benefits of Solid Brick Walls:
- Easy to maintain
- Good thermal properties
Problems with Solid Brick Walls:
- Prone to water penetration and dampness
- Contribute to heat loss
Insulation for Solid Walls:
- Internal insulation: Adding insulation boards or stud walls to the interior surface of the wall.
- External insulation: Fixing insulation boards and render to the outer surface of the wall.
Cavity Wall Construction
In the UK, cavity walls have gained popularity for their thermal efficiency. A cavity wall consists of two independent parts: an outer masonry skin and an inner masonry skin separated by a small gap. The outer skin is typically made of brickwork, blockwork, or stone, while the inner skin is usually composed of blockwork. This construction method offers several benefits.
Benefits of Cavity Walls
- Thermal Efficiency: Cavity walls provide better insulation compared to solid brick walls, resulting in reduced heat loss and lower energy consumption.
- Moisture Protection: The air pocket in the cavity acts as a barrier against moisture intrusion, preventing dampness and water penetration.
- Noise Reduction: Cavity walls offer improved sound insulation, creating a quieter indoor environment.
Identifying cavity walls is relatively simple. One way is to check the thickness of the walls. Cavity walls are typically around 300 mm thick, while solid brick walls measure approximately 220 mm. Another method is to look for weep holes, small openings near the bottom of the outer skin that allow any water that may have entered the cavity to drain out. These holes are essential for maintaining proper ventilation and preventing moisture build-up.
Insulating cavity walls is crucial for maximizing their energy-saving potential. Various insulation materials can be used, such as mineral wool, expanded polystyrene (EPS) beads, or foam insulation boards.
The insulation is typically placed in the cavity, filling the gap between the outer and inner skins. However, it is important to ensure proper ventilation to prevent condensation and dampness issues. A professional assessment is recommended to determine the most suitable insulation method for a specific property.
Table: Comparison of Solid Brick Walls and Cavity Walls
|Solid Brick Walls
|Single solid brick structure
|Two independent masonry skins with a gap in between
|Prone to water penetration
|Acts as a barrier against moisture intrusion
|Lower heat retention; insulation needed for improved efficiency
|Better heat retention; insulation enhances performance
|Improved sound insulation
When considering internal wall construction in the UK, cavity walls provide a viable option for energy-efficient and well-insulated homes. They offer superior thermal properties, protection against moisture, and noise reduction. Proper insulation and regular maintenance are essential to optimize the performance and longevity of cavity walls.
Other Materials Used for Internal Walls
In addition to solid and cavity walls, there are several other materials commonly used for internal walls in the UK.
Cob Wall Construction
Cob is a sustainable material made of clay, sand, straw, and water. It has been used for centuries and offers unique design solutions. Modern cob buildings in England are considered highly sustainable and environmentally friendly.
Concrete and prefabricated walls are a cost-efficient option for internal wall construction. These walls are typically made off-site and then transported to the construction site for installation. They can reach heights of up to 3.5 meters and provide excellent thermal efficiency.
Timber Frame Construction
Timber frame construction is popular for its excellent thermal and sound insulation properties. However, it is important to note that timber frames are susceptible to pest infestations and rot. Proper maintenance and treatment are necessary to ensure the longevity of timber frame walls.
Steel Frame Construction
Steel frame construction is commonly used in modern building projects due to its durability and low maintenance requirements. It involves the use of a skeleton frame composed of horizontal beams and vertical steel columns. Steel frame walls provide strength and stability to the structure.
These alternative materials offer different benefits and considerations when it comes to internal wall construction. The choice of material depends on various factors such as cost, sustainability, insulation properties, and design preferences.
What are the common materials used for internal walls in the UK?
The two main types of internal walls commonly found in the UK are solid walls and cavity walls. Other materials used for internal walls include cob, concrete/prefabricated walls, timber frame, and steel frame construction.
How are solid brick walls constructed?
Solid brick walls, commonly found in houses built before the 1930s, are 215 mm thick and have both the long face and the short face of the bricks showing.
What are the benefits of solid brick walls?
Solid brick walls provide good thermal properties, are fire-resistant, and are easy to maintain.
What problems can occur with solid brick walls?
Solid brick walls are prone to water penetration and dampness. They also contribute to about half of all heat loss in a building.
Can solid walls be insulated?
Yes, insulation can be applied from the inside or the outside of the wall to improve thermal efficiency, lower heating costs, and save energy.
How are cavity walls constructed?
Cavity walls consist of two independent parts: an outer masonry skin and an inner masonry skin separated by a small gap.
What are the benefits of cavity walls?
Cavity walls provide better thermal efficiency, serve as a barrier against moisture intrusion, and provide space for insulation.
How can cavity walls be insulated?
Cavity walls can be insulated by filling the gap between the outer and inner skins with insulation material.
How can I identify if I have a cavity wall?
The thickness of a cavity wall is around 300 mm, while a solid brick wall is approximately 220 mm. You can also check for a small gap between the inner and outer skins.
What other materials are used for internal walls in the UK?
Other materials used for internal walls in the UK include cob, concrete/prefabricated walls, timber frame, and steel frame construction.