What to Use to Cover Exposed Insulation: 5 Best Solutions

What To Use To Cover Exposed Insulation
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Exposed insulation can pose several issues, including reduced aesthetic appeal, potential health risks, and decreased energy efficiency. Properly covering insulation is essential for maintaining a comfortable and safe living environment.

This article explores the various materials and methods available for covering exposed insulation in the UK, providing detailed insights into each option.

what are the risks of leaving insulation exposed

There are several risks associated with leaving insulation exposed in a home or building:

Health Hazards

  • Exposed insulation, particularly fiberglass, can release small fibers into the air which may be inhaled, causing skin, eye and lung irritation.
  • Uncovered insulation poses a greater risk for kids as it is not child-proof.
  • While mineral wool insulation is generally considered safe, it can still release fibers into the air in poorly ventilated environments.

Fire Hazards

  • Exposed insulation increases the risk of ignition and rapid flame spread in case of a fire.
  • It can impact home safety and evacuation procedures in an emergency.

Moisture and Mould Issues

  • Exposed insulation is more susceptible to moisture intrusion which can lead to mould and mildew growth.
  • If a vapor barrier is installed incorrectly, moisture can get trapped in the insulation.

Other Risks

  • Exposed insulation can allow fibers to get into HVAC systems.
  • It may lead to higher energy bills due to compromised insulation performance.
  • Neglecting to address exposed insulation can impact a home’s resale value.

Solutions for Covering Exposed Insulation

Drywall, also known as plasterboard, is one of the most common materials used to cover exposed insulation. It offers several benefits:

  • Insulation Enhancement: Drywall adds an extra layer of insulation, helping to improve energy efficiency.
  • Fire Resistance: Many types of drywall are fire-resistant, offering additional safety.
  • Soundproofing: It helps reduce noise transmission, making it ideal for creating a quieter home environment.
  • Aesthetic Appeal: Drywall provides a smooth, paintable surface that can be decorated to match any interior design.

Installation involves securing the drywall panels to the wall studs with screws or nails, followed by taping and mudding the seams to create a seamless finish.

2. Plaster: Traditional and Durable

Plaster is another effective material for covering exposed insulation. This method has been used for centuries and offers a range of benefits:

  • Durability: Plaster is extremely durable and can last for many years without significant wear.
  • Versatility: It can be applied to various surfaces and moulded into intricate designs and textures.
  • Moisture Resistance: Plaster can be treated to resist moisture, making it suitable for damp areas.

The process involves applying multiple layers of plaster over a lath or directly onto the insulation. Once dried, it can be painted or finished according to preference.

3. Insulation Panels: Efficient and Easy to Install

Pre-finished insulation panels are a convenient option for covering exposed insulation. These panels often come with a decorative surface and are designed for easy installation:

  • Efficiency: They combine insulation and finishing in one product, saving time and effort.
  • Variety: Available in various styles and finishes, allowing for customisation.
  • Ease of Installation: Panels can be quickly and easily installed using adhesive or screws.

These panels are particularly useful for quick renovations or for covering large areas of exposed insulation.

4. Wood Panelling: Aesthetic and Functional

Wood panelling provides a warm, natural look while also effectively covering insulation. It is suitable for both traditional and contemporary interiors:

  • Aesthetic Value: Wood panelling adds a rustic charm or modern elegance, depending on the type of wood and finish.
  • Durability: Properly treated wood panels can withstand moisture and physical wear.
  • Insulation: Wood has natural insulating properties, enhancing overall thermal performance.

Installation involves attaching the wood panels to a framework of battens or directly onto the wall studs. Panels can be stained, painted, or left in their natural state.

5. Fabric Coverings: Flexible and Decorative

For those seeking a more flexible and decorative solution, fabric coverings are an excellent choice. These coverings can be customised to suit any interior design:

  • Versatility: Fabrics come in an endless variety of colours, patterns, and textures.
  • Acoustic Properties: Fabric coverings can improve acoustics by dampening sound.
  • Easy Maintenance: Removable fabric panels are easy to clean or replace.

Installation involves stretching the fabric over a frame or mounting it directly onto the wall. This method is particularly popular for creating a soft, upholstered look in living spaces or bedrooms.

Best Practices for Covering Exposed Insulation

Safety First

  • Wear Protective Gear: Always use gloves, long sleeves, and a mask when handling insulation to protect yourself from irritation and inhalation of fibres.
  • Ventilation: Ensure the area is well-ventilated to avoid inhaling dust and fibres.


  • Measure and Cut Accurately: Properly measure and cut the covering material to ensure a snug fit. This prevents gaps that can reduce insulation effectiveness.
  • Secure Properly: Use appropriate fasteners like screws or nails, depending on the material. For drywall, drywall screws are recommended.
  • Seal Gaps: Use caulk or insulation foam to seal any gaps between the covering material and the walls or floors to maintain insulation effectiveness.

Moisture Control

  • Vapour Barriers: Install a vapour barrier if you’re covering insulation in areas prone to moisture, like basements or bathrooms. This prevents moisture from seeping into the insulation and causing mould or mildew.
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