Your loft space can provide valuable extra storage space; you just need to make sure it is safe first. Boarding a loft is relatively simple and cheap to do, in just 5 steps:
- Measure up
- Check insulation
- Get your tools and materials together
- Lay your boards
- Make it permanent.
How to board a loft: measure up
Before you start, you need to know the area that you need to board. Measure the length and width of your loft space; the total area is the length multiplied by the width. Add 20%, to be on the safe side.
How to board a loft: check insulation
While you are in the loft, check your insulation. Government guidelines specify that insulation should be 270mm thick. If your insulation is thick enough, it is likely that it comes over the joists, which are usually up to 100mm deep. If this is the case, you may be tempted to squash the insulation, however be wary of this as:
- Squashing insulation will half its effectiveness
- Compacting insulation can cause condensation
- If you squash down your insulation, your boarded loft won’t pass building regulations.
The best way to keep effective insulation when boarding your loft space is to build a raised floor; this isn’t as difficult as it may seem, as there are products on the market that act as stilts, providing a set of stable, raised joists that you can board onto. Creating a raised floor also eliminates the need to board around light fittings and wires; the little extra time and money can actually save you a lot of hassle.
How to board a loft: gather tools and materials
Safety is key, you will need overalls or old clothes, a dust mask and gloves. You will also need: a tape measure; pencils, drill, hammer, screws, screwdriver, wooden brick, insulation (if needed). The biggest challenge when boarding a loft is getting the boards into the loft in the first place; bear this in mind when you are buying your boards. Boards will come in different widths – some come in packs which cover a set area, while you can buy others individually. Tongue and groove boards make for easy fitting, but check them for damage: chipped, warped or cracked boards won’t click easily into place. If you are going to construct a raised loft floor, you will also need enough floor supports for your loft space.
How to board a loft: lay your boards
If you are creating a raised floor, first lay insulation (if needed) then fix your raised floor brackets to the joists, following the instructions for the specific product. If you are not having a raised floor, place your first board over the joists, ensuring that the ends of the boards line up with the centre of the joists for optimal support.
To create a stronger surface, stagger the joins so that your boards look more like brickwork than a chess board. Once your first board is in place, measure up your second, cut if needed, and connect the tongue and groove. Repeat the process, ensuring that the boards are secured tightly together and joins are staggered. To help ensure your boards are tightly fitted together, avoid banging with a hammer or mallet as this can damage the tongue and groove; place a wooden block lengthways along the edge and gently tap with a hammer.
How to board a loft: fixing the boards
Once your boards are neatly in place, drill two holes in the end of each board, and fix the boards to the joists with screws. If you have created a raised floor, make sure that you can still access light fittings and wires, should you need to.
Once you have fitted your loft boards, you have a whole new world of storage ahead of you! Enjoy your extra space, have a little de-clutter, and sit back and relax!