Boarding a Loft: 7 Simple Steps To Do It Like a Pro
Starting boarding a loft is more than simply a home renovation work; it’s a trip to discover your living space’s hidden possibilities.
Transforming your loft into a usable, secure storage room not only provides practical value, but also improves your home’s overall safety, insulation, and beauty. That’s where boarding a loft comes into the act! Loft boarding, the process of installing loft boards, transforms the loft into a safe, usable space.
This article delves into the critical significance of placing loft boards directly onto joists and offers an insightful, step-by-step guide on mastering the art of loft boarding for an optimal home improvement experience.
Why Install Loft Boards?
The foremost important thing is to understand the need for loft floor boards. Installing loft boards is a practical and advantageous solution for homeowners seeking to optimise their available space, enhance insulation, and potentially increase the value of their property. Let’s have a look at some of the reasons to boarding a loft:
Extra Usable Space
One of the primary reasons to install loft boards is the creation of extra usable space. The loft, once a neglected and underutilised area, can be transformed into a functional storage space. This additional storage is invaluable for items like seasonal decorations, luggage, and other occasional-use belongings.
Loft boards provide an opportunity to declutter other areas of the home. By efficiently organising and storing items in the loft, homeowners can enjoy a tidier living space.
Accessing stored items becomes more manageable with a boarded loft, especially when combined with purpose-built loft ladders. Homeowners can navigate the loft space safely and retrieve stored items with ease.
Loft insulation is often upgraded when installing loft boards. The process involves ensuring that the insulation meets or exceeds government-recommended standards, typically 270mm of mineral wool/quilt insulation. Adequate loft insulation enhances the energy efficiency of the home, reducing heat loss and potentially lowering energy bills.
Proper insulation not only keeps the home warmer in winter but also cooler in summer. This leads to a more comfortable living environment throughout the year.
Increased Property Value
Storage Space Demand
In the competitive real estate market, additional storage space is a sought-after feature. Installing loft boards and creating a functional loft area can significantly enhance the appeal of the property to potential buyers.
Boarding a loft is a cost-effective alternative to external self-storage facilities. Creating additional storage within the home eliminates the need for monthly expenses associated with renting external storage units.
How to Board a Loft & Lay Attic Flooring
Boarding a loft is a practical and achievable DIY project that transforms an underutilised space into valuable storage. Follow these steps to efficiently board your loft and lay attic boarding, ensuring a secure and functional loft space.
Tools and Equipment Needed for Boarding a Loft
Before starting the loft boarding project, gather essential tools and materials:
- Loft boards
- Insulation (if required)
- Circular saw, jig saw, or hand saw
- Drill driver
- Screws (preferably chipboard screws)
- Tape measure
- Disposable overalls and FFP3 mask
- Timber battens or a raised loft boarding system
- Scissors/knife for cutting insulation
Now let’s understand how can you loft boards straight onto joists:
Step 1: Clear the Area
Start by clearing the loft space of any existing items, debris, and dust. Make sure that the storage area is kept close to the hatch for easy access during and after the installation process.
Step 2: Prepare Insulation
Create an air gap for the loft insulation boards between joists. Remove soft insulation and replace it with solid insulation materials. The goal is to maintain at least a 25mm air gap between the top of the insulation and the underside of the boards.
Step 3: Position Cables
You’ll have to make sure that your electric cables are in the right place. Where electrical cables are present, create slack in the cables to allow loft boards to slide underneath. Alternatively, position cables to run over the top of the insulation.
Step 4: Lay the First Row of Loft Boards
Starting from the hatch, lay the first board across the ceiling joists. Position it so that each end sits at the centre of the joist it’s resting on. Drill pilot holes, countersink each hole, and secure the board in place using suitable screws (e.g., 8 x 40mm chipboard screws). Position the next board to adjoin to the shorter end and secure it in place. Continue until you reach the end of the run.
Step 5: Lay the Second Row of Boards
Lay a new board on the second row, moving to the left or right (depending on your direction) a pair of joists so that joints are staggered. Push the tongue and groove joints together. Use an old piece of timber and a hammer to knock them together if needed. Drill and countersink pilot holes and secure the board in place. Continue to the end of the run.
Step 6: Cut Boards to Size
Staggering the boards creates gaps of approximately a third of a board. Measure the gap and cut a board to this size. Slot it in place, drill, countersink pilot holes, and secure it down. Repeat this process until all boards are laid and fixed in place.
Step 7: Fix Upstands
Once all boards are laid, cut 2 x 1-inch battens and fix them around the edge of the boarding. These upstands will keep storage boxes in place, preventing them from falling onto un-boarded areas.
The Do’s of Loft Boarding
Where boarding a loft can be a daunting task, it can be made easier by knowing the do’s and dont’s of the process. When undertaking a loft boarding project, it’s essential to adhere to specific loft boarding regulations and guidelines to ensure a successful and safe installation.
Here are the do’s of loft boarding that you should follow for an effective transformation of your loft space.
Obtain the Right Tools for Your Loft Boarding Project
Make sure that you have adequate personal protective equipment, including dust masks, overalls, and gloves, to protect yourself during the loft board installation process. Gather the necessary tools and materials, such as loft boards, Loft Flooring Legs, a pencil, tape measure, saw, general-purpose countersunk screws, an electric screwdriver, and a knife.
Evaluate Your Current Insulation
Before installing loft boards, assess the current depth of your insulation. The UK government recommends quilt insulation to be 27cm deep for optimal thermal performance. If your insulation does not meet this standard, consider topping it up to ensure proper insulation and potential energy savings.
Measure the Loft Area
Accurately measure your loft space before buying and installing loft boards. Multiply the usable width by the usable length and also measure the distances between trusses and loft joists. This information will help you calculate the size and number of loft boards needed to cover your loft space adequately.
Create a Raised Board Area
Position loft boards above your insulation. This helps prevent compression of the insulation and ensures it works to its maximum potential. If your insulation is already at the recommended depth, roll back the top layer to reveal the joists or trusses. Screw the Loft Legs into position on top of the exposed joists or trusses before rolling back the insulation.
Ensure Joist Strength
Check to ensure that your joists are strong enough to support the additional loads of loft storage and the weight of a person moving around in the loft. Trusses in newly built homes are designed to allow for 25 Kg/m2 of storage plus the weight of a person walking in the loft. For older homes, a professional survey may be required.
The Don’ts of Loft Boarding
While loft boarding offers numerous benefits, it’s crucial to be aware of the potential pitfalls and avoid certain practices that can lead to issues in the future. Here are the don’ts of loft boarding to ensure a successful and trouble-free installation:
Don’t Overload Joists or Trusses
New build home roof trusses are designed to support specific weights, including the roof structure, storage items, and an individual moving around in the loft. It is strongly advised not to exceed the recommended weight limit, typically set at 25 Kg per square metre. Overloading the structure can compromise its integrity and lead to potential safety hazards.
Don’t Install a Loft Board Directly to a Joist or Truss
Despite the temptation, avoid the practice of installing loft boards straight onto joists or trusses without proper consideration. Most common joist heights in modern properties range between 75mm and 100mm. Government guidelines emphasise loft insulation standards of 0.16N/m2K or 270mm of mineral wool/quilt insulation. Directly boarding onto joists may lead to compromised insulation levels and potential energy efficiency issues.
Don’t Ignore Structural Considerations
In older homes, structural considerations become paramount. If in doubt about the capacity of your roof or ceiling joists to support storage and human movement, consult a structural engineer. A professional survey may be necessary to assess the size of the joist, its span, and the overall condition of walls and supports.
Common Concerns and Solutions in Loft Boarding
Embarking on a loft boarding project can raise several concerns for homeowners. Addressing these concerns with practical solutions ensures a successful and hassle-free installation. Here are common concerns and the corresponding solutions:
Concern 1: Structural Integrity and Weight Distribution
If there are doubts about the structural capacity of your roof or ceiling joists, consult a structural engineer. They can assess the size, span, and condition of the joists, ensuring they can support both storage items and human movement.
Follow weight limit recommendations to avoid overloading the structure. New build home roof trusses are typically designed to support specific weights, with guidelines suggesting not exceeding 25 Kg per square metre.
Concern 2: Insufficient Insulation Due to Boarding
Loft boarding often involves upgrading insulation to meet or exceed government-recommended standards. Ensure insulation levels are maintained, aiming for at least 270mm of mineral wool/quilt insulation to enhance energy efficiency and prevent heat loss.
When boarding directly onto insulation, use Loft Legs to create a raised platform. This prevents compression of insulation and maintains its effectiveness while providing a stable base for loft boarding.
Concern 3: Inadequate Air Flow in the Loft
When laying loft boards, avoid extending them all the way to the edge of the loft. Leave a gap of 200 – 300mm at the eaves to facilitate proper air circulation. This helps prevent condensation issues in the loft space.
Concern 5: Meeting Loft Boarding Regulations
Loft boarding regulations may vary, so check local building codes and regulations before starting the project. Ensure compliance with any specific guidelines related to loft boarding in your region.
If uncertain about regulations or specific requirements, seek professional assistance. Local contractors or building professionals can provide guidance and ensure the project meets all necessary standards.
Boarding a loft goes beyond the boring duty of creating storage; it is a comprehensive strategy to improve your living space. Whether you tackle a DIY project or seek professional help, the benefits are not only practical but also add long-term value to your property.
So, whether for convenience or improved living, loft boarding is a key step toward a more practical and beautiful house.
Can you put loft boards straight onto joists?
Yes, you can put loft boards straight onto joists. However, it’s advisable to use loft legs or raised platforms to create an elevated surface. This helps prevent compression of insulation and allows for proper ventilation in the loft space.
What is the correct way to lay loft boards?
The correct way to lay loft boards involves creating a raised platform using loft legs or similar products. This allows for insulation to be installed between the joists while providing a stable and elevated surface for the loft boards. This helps maintain energy efficiency and prevents compression of insulation.
Should loft boards be raised?
Yes, loft boards should be raised using loft legs or platforms. Raising the loft boards ensures that insulation can be installed effectively between the joists without being compressed. It also allows for proper ventilation in the loft space, contributing to energy efficiency.
What is the best thing to board a loft with?
Oriented Strand Board (OSB) or similar types of moisture-resistant and sturdy boards are commonly used for loft flooring. These boards are suitable for creating a stable surface for storage and are often tongue-and-groove for easy installation. Additionally, consider using loft legs or platforms to raise the boards and maintain insulation effectiveness.