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I have been carrying out a bit of DIY in my bathroom, in a new wall which was put up with my loft conversion which happened of the winter. Inside this new wall, I've found a significant quantity of insulation (rockwall or something of the like).

Clearly this was put in for a reason. But this is in a wall separating my bathroom from my internal staircase to the loft, so there is unlikely to be much of a thermal gradient between these two rooms.

Can anyone tell me why this was put in? Thermal insulation seems irrelevant, unless maybe it's to increase the fire redundancy of the partition wall. Only other idea I had was sound insulation, but wouldn't expect it to have that much effect.

I'm in the UK in case that helps anyone.

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  • could it be an addition, so the wall was exterior? the older insulation type suggests the work was done some time ago.
    – dandavis
    Oct 16 '18 at 16:23
  • Sorry if I wasn't clear, this was a new internal wall, put up inside what was the bathroom, dividing the space into two; one bathroom one stair well.
    – Puffafish
    Oct 17 '18 at 7:27
  • There are UK fire safety rules for loft conversions, in terms of making sure that there's a safe way out of the house. We had to divide our open-plan living room to separate the hallway in order to comply -- it was that or have a ladder-type fire escape. I don't know whether this would come under the same thinking. Oct 17 '18 at 9:59
  • "Why do I have Insulation in internal wall between two rooms?" Because the person who put it there was a good person who believed in quality home life.
    – TylerH
    Sep 20 '21 at 20:54
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It was probably installed to reduce sound transmission. It's common to see materials that are more dense than fiberglass used as acoustic insulation, but fiberglass is used as well.

The sounds of water running and being flushed, drawers being closed, and other... human activities are often something folks wish to reduce in areas designed for serenity, such as a loft.

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Around the bathroom, it is most likely for noise isolation. Usually the material used in this application is different from standard fibreglass batts. I've used Roxul AFB in this way before. It is a rock based material, and the structure of it deadens transmission of sound. We didn't do actual acoustic tests, but anecdotally the stuff really works well to keep noise down.

It might also be worth pointing out you may find this material in other locations, as it is usually also a fire-retardant. We put it around kitchens, or in walls separating a garage from the main housing space. Also in every wall in commercial/office space, but I doubt that applies here.

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Thermal insulation between bathroom and the rest of the house is very relevant.

Bathroom is a room which is expected to be sometimes used naked, contrary to the rest of the house. Which means that the temperature in bathroom is expected to be kept at a higher value than the rest of the house.

For example, Polish building code in requirements for heating systems: in "rooms meant for constant occupancy of humans without wearing overcoats" (eg: a living room) - "ability to maintain temperature at least +20°C", while in "rooms meant for undressing or for occupancy of naked humans" (eg: locker rooms or bathrooms) it's up to +24°C. That's 4°C warmer than the rest of the house. Note that the law doesn't tell you to actually keep it that warm, just that you could if you wish so. This example is not about requirements in a particular country, but about general expectations for a bathroom to "be able to be warmer than the rest of the house".

So, it's only reasonable to insulate a bathroom against the rest of the house, to avoid heating up adjoining rooms. Also, the bathroom heats up (eg from a long, hot shower) even if you don't meant it too. Having cold spots on walls would increase condensation there, leading to increased water damage.

Rockwool is not a sound insulation per se, but the empty space between drywall acts like a resonator - so filling it up with anything yields noticeable improvement. Filling it up with sand or concrete would insulate sounds even better, but the thermal performance would suffer. And would require tougher structure to cope with the extra weight.

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    This can only be true if there's an independent heat source in the bathroom.
    – isherwood
    Oct 17 '18 at 20:01
  • @isherwood Central heating already is "independent heat source" because you can adjust every heater independently. Also, mentioned hot shower is a heat source even if that's not it's intended function.
    – Agent_L
    Aug 15 '20 at 14:14
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Insulating internal walls is also useful for heat loss. Closing the door and heating vents in an unused space, like a guest bedroom, will cause that room to be minimally heated and cut the cu.ft. of space heated, and thus the heating bill. Insulating the surrounding walls will reduce the heat loss from the fully heated space to the minimally heated space. I built a house that way and it works quite well.

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  • Be careful when doing this -- you need to watch your duct static pressures when you close dampers in the heating system to avoid blower or HX issues in your furnace.... Dec 25 '18 at 5:29
  • So common knowledge goes. But closing off the register on a typical bedroom, say 10x13, is only 10% of a 1300 sq.ft. house and proportionally less on a larger house. There will be more variation in static pressure from how the flex duct is laid down by the builder from house to house than that. There is proportionally so much volume in areas that can’t be closed off (like the kitchen, living room, dining room, hallways, etc.) that the areas that can are generally numerical noise in the design and construction. Dec 25 '18 at 16:37
  • Of course, if you have an evil ductopus lurking in your attic, all bets are off ;) but some HVAC systems actually have a semblance of proper duct design.... Dec 25 '18 at 17:36
  • There can be a large gap between design and construction, like tight turns (300 degrees in one case here) in flex duct. Poor practices ruin good designs all the time. Dec 27 '18 at 0:58
  • Well, proper duct design and construction -- which includes "don't use flex" ;) Dec 27 '18 at 1:14

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