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Fettercairn House, Aberdeenshire

Academic feasibility study: Testing of a method for insulation of masonry and lath walls in existing Scottish domestic construction


The research which led to this case study has focused on existing load-bearing masonry construction with internal plastered lath lining.

These properties are in urgent need of insulation but this should be possible without removing linings which form the historic fabric of the building. There is a lack of suitable skills and appropriate technologies to enable effective insulation of traditional load-bearing masonry while retaining the inner fabric.

The main aim of this research project was to develop and test the feasibility of a method of insulating an existing house whilst maintaining its original architecture features.


The project comprised of five phases:

  • Phase 1 (Building selection and site surveying);
  • Phase 2 (testing method preparation);
  • Phase 3 (Site preparation);
  • Phase 4 (Application); and
  • Phase 5 (Remedial work).

The method involved using a water blown foam. This was the first time such insulation had been used in an historic building in Scotland. The water blown foam was created specifically for injecting into delicate structures. The foam expands slowly putting little pressure on the fragile inner wall and, as it is 100 percent water blown, it contains no harmful blowing agents.

Additionally, through its open cell structure, the foam will allow the wall to breathe which will assist in controlling moisture movement.


One of the main lessons learned is that a high level of skill is required, along with an understanding of the construction of the building to ensure that no damage is caused to the structure or to historic fabric and fixtures.

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