Crawl space Cold floor

Published on September 14th, 2017 | by Henri

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Cold floor over crawl space

Q.  I live in a split level in a new suburb of Chicago. There is a 3-foot deep crawl space under the kitchen, living room and dining room. In the winter, the hardwood kitchen floor gets really cold. The living room and dining room are carpeted so no problem. The crawl space has a concrete floor, but the space is not insulated. It has vents in a couple of walls.

My question: should the floor under the kitchen be insulated? Should any part of the crawlspace be insulated? Thank you.

A. The reason the kitchen wood floor feels colder than the carpeted floor is that the cellular composition of the wood floor is denser than the fibers of the carpet. Our skin is full of nerve receptors, including the bottoms of our feet. More of our feet’s receptors will be in contact with a denser surface than they will be on a carpet. So we feel more.

An example I can give you is the difference we feel when sleeping on flannel sheets versus regular cotton sheets in the winter, especially if you sleep in the buff.

Insulating the kitchen floor or the entire crawl space floor may make a slight difference, but not a significant one. Insulating the entire crawl space walls will make the space warmer, but, again, it will not make much difference in the feeling of cold.

In either case – crawl space floor or wall insulation – there are some considerations to take into account. Doing so will allow deeper frost penetration, which may increase the risk of damage to the walls from frost pressure unless the house’s backfill was done with coarse material, the grading around the foundation slope away from it and there is an effectively functioning foundation drainage system.

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