All About Loft Boarding

Loft Boarding Sounds Simple Doesn't It? Not As Simple As It Seems! Read All About How Loft Boarding Should Be Done

Things you need to know about loft boarding.

Not all lofts are the same hence the reason we carry out free surveys so we can inspect and advise of how your loft can be utilised for storage. One of the first things to consider is how high your ceiling is, we need to measure from floor to ceiling height as some ladders may not reach.

We then have to measure your existing loft opening making sure it is of a comfortable accessible size to allow you, your ladder and what ever you carry up in to the loft.
Head height is important, we will need to measure the head height from the loft opening to the roof, its no good if you bang your head or have to lay down to get in to your loft.
After checking on these crucial details we must allow clearance for the fold away ladder.
Your ceiling joists will be measured to see if they are adequate enough for boarding, if not we will suggest strengthening these by fitting cross support joists (known as a sub-frame) on top of your existing joists to allow the weight to distribute more evenly, after all your house was built with joists to support a ceiling not to be walked on or stored on so this is very important. (see diagram below)
In some cases we have to install extra ceiling to roof supports to take away any flex in the ceiling and give it a more sturdy feel.
Once all this is taken in to consideration we can then prepare your quote.

Do I need planning permission? You do not require planning permission to board a loft for storage.
Planning permission is only required for major works or large attic / loft conversions for living extension purposes.
However in some homes the timber joists may not be adequate in strength to support a "load" or storage weight. This is why we must do a survey to determine if your loft has adequate ceiling joists to allow the loft to be boarded.
Most ceilings are only designed to take the weight of the plasterboard ceiling and any extra weight must be considered before boarding. In most cases the ceiling joists must be strengthened by introducing another set of joists either running side by side, opposite to the existing joists or to run across the roof truss without resting on the existing ceiling joists.
In most new houses the joists may only require a simple raised sub-frame building to support the extra weight (see below for more information) and may also require a raised sub-frame to be of a correct height to avoid loft insulation compression or removal.

Insulation has to comply to the relevant building regulations both when installed and when fitted retrospectively building regulations and building control. Although we always work to building regulations where applicable, and always make sure your existing joists are supported or strengthened building control can be a grey area sometimes when it comes to building work, so if you decide to have your loft boarded for storage, mini loft conversion or luxury loft storage and depending on where you are in the country, type of property (listed or other) and what you are having done this may or may not require a building regulations application to building control.

What area can I board for storage? Normally we only board areas which are accessible by standing or kneeling but not lying down.
Keeping your storage area central highest point will be most practical.

Can I board all of my loft ? Completely boarding your loft is not advisable as it can prevent air circulation in your loft and help prevent condensation build up, so best to leave the lower areas like the eaves free from boarding.
Also it's just adding unnecessary expense boarding areas that you can't reach easily so therefore you won't use.
Any area can be boarded providing the ceiling joists are strong enough to allow boarding, this will be checked by our loft boarding surveyor.
Below are examples of different systems we use to create a safe, strong storage floor in your loft so this will give you a better idea of how we professionally construct your loft floor to make it strong to walk and store on.

What is a sub-frame for? Sub-frames are basically a supporting frame under the boarding to allow the boarded area to be raised or for adding better support and strength. See examples below of different sub-frames we use to create a safe, strong storage floor in your loft.

We do two types of Sub-frame:
Loft-E. A heavy duty raised adjustable platform ideal for new build properties and properties with uneven joists.
LBNW Timber Raised Subframe. Ideal for older properties where the weight capacity of the ceiling is questionable.

Any house that has any insulation protruding above the joists will require a raised sub-frame of at least 270mm high before boarding. We install these as standard, unlike some companies who quote for cheaper easier methods and don't build a sub-frame at all.

Boarding directly on to your joists by removing or squashing insulation is very bad practice nowadays. You must allow your insulation and loft to breathe. Stopping air circulation in lofts by boarding all of your loft or blocking eaves or soffit vents can caused problems like condensation build up.
Do not squash insulation down, and make sure a sub-frame is installed above your insulation, but never box in the ends leave them so air can pass underneath your storage floor and insulation so it can breath and work efficiently.

Trussed roof sub-frame system supported sub-frame suitable for older houses with weaker ceilings?   We come across quite a few weaker ceilings or ceilings with smaller joists than normal and we advise not to just board or batten and board with none substantial strips of wood as the ceiling joists will not take the extra weight.
There is now a more modern and much better way to board over older loft ceilings without having to overload the ceiling joists.
Mainly older terraced and detached houses pre WW2 and post WW2 when we started building again we had a short supply of materials so houses were built to a very minimal specification.
Although your ceiling joists in an older property are adequate to support your ceiling they were never designed to take much extra weight on them so to correctly build boarding, add storage items and to be able to walk about safely the timber raised floor must be built correctly and add virtually no ceiling joist load.

Insufficient none supported loft floors will cause problems with weaker ceilings and unfortunately a lot of "loft companies" out there are not aware how to create strong safe storage sub-frames (storage platform) in a loft.
There is more to it than you think, its not just boarding over the ceiling anymore, its about what you board on to above the ceiling. See the pictures below, this shows the extra work that goes in to creating a level, and virtually self supporting storage platform.
Our raised timber sub-frame is hung in various structural places so it is pretty much self supporting, usually above the central area of a bedroom, near the light where there is no additional support. Hangers must be fitted to the purling's to help support (Suspend in some cases) the sub-frame that is required before any boarding can be installed.  
Newer built properties however (with a truss roof in the past 50 years or so) are a little different as they have support from a web truss frame that is installed in the loft every 600mm and supports the roof and ceiling all in one. The LOFT-E® raised loft floor system can be installed directly to a modern ceiling with a trussed roof to gain height above the insulation of 270mm so you can create a storage area without removing or squashing any insulation. This is not good build practice to do this just to save money on the cost of boarding your loft.

Cut price loft boarding can be dangerous and very unsafe to use, it's not worth the risk to save a few quid. Cutting prices means cutting corners!    

How strong will my loft be? Using 18mm tongue and groove particle board gives a strong secure fit.
It's safe to walk on and store on. Distributing weight evenly over the boarded surface allows plenty safe storage.
For the average household both our sub-floors are designed to take up to 500kg per square metre, but this is not the same rule for the ceiling below. You would need to refer to your builder or get a load calc done if you intend to load quite a few heavy items in your loft.








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