The importance of Retrofit on aging properties

There are a number of issues that come about from the fact that nearly 80% of homes in England are over 40 years old1 – and it is forecast that 80% of our existing building stock will still be in use in 20502!

The most common issues include condensation and damp, draughts, and excessive cold brought on by a lack of insulation which makes heating systems work harder for more money and less warmth. This leads many people to pay for wasted energy – which they struggle to afford as we continue to experience a cost of living crisis. According to the English Housing Survey 2022-23, over a quarter of tenants struggled to pay rent in both the private and social housing sectors3, so it is crucial that their property is energy efficient and air tight so they are able to retain heat within their property.


There is also the catastrophic impact that poor housing has on health, with an estimated £1.4 billion spent annually by the NHS on treating illnesses that come from living in cold or damp housing4. Cold and damp leads to issues with mould which is the result of an imbalance in moisture within a property. Mould spores are always present but become more dangerous when houses are cold and don’t have adequate ventilation. Prolonged exposure to black spot mould, especially in more vulnerable people, can lead to serious health-related problems, such as asthma, COPD, and can, in the worse circumstances, be fatal.

Furthermore, there is the environmental impact of that wasted energy to consider. Buildings contribute around 20% of total UK carbon emissions5, making it crucial to reduce the amount of energy that is wasted through windows, doors, and uninsulated walls.

Retrofitting The UK
With so many properties lacking adequate insulation and ventilation, it is important to provide a retrofit solution that futureproofs our housing stock to ensure they protect the people that live in them. And with so many aging properties within the UK that will continue to provide habitation, these older buildings with poor insulation provide the greatest retrofit opportunities. But it is crucial that sustainable materials are used that help to protect the planet.

Finding The Solution
Cork is a natural material that is harvested from the cork oak tree, without the need for deforestation. The tree needs to absorb CO2 to regenerate its bark, which is continues to do throughout its 200-year lifespan – proving to be a value resource in fighting climate change. But cork has a number of natural benefits that can improve the lives of tenants when used as a building material on new build and retrofit projects.


CorkSol UK supply SprayCork, a sustainable and eco-friendly sprayed cork coating for walls and ceilings that can eliminate penetrating damp and stop condensation forming on surfaces. It is an extremely thin coating, applied at 4-6mm with 2mm skim, which also provides thermal protection to improve the energy efficiency of the property. This provides a healthy and safe space for tenants to live, along with peace of mind for the landlord.

The thin layer at which the product is applied makes it perfect for:
• Small rooms and tight spaces where thicker layers cause unacceptable reduction in room size
• Properties with historic internal architectural details, which should not be concealed behind thick layers of insulation for conservation reasons
• Properties on a tight budget, who do not want the extra cost, time and hassle of repositioning services such as electrical points and radiators

Innovation is the only way forward for sustainable retrofit. And it needs all parties to work together to implement these solutions.

Images © CorkSol