What To Consider When Converting Loft for Storage
It is amazing how quickly seemingly spacious rooms (and the under-stairs cupboards, and the shed, and the garage) can fill up with stuff. And more stuff. And more stuff. Not just junk, but useful or valuable items that simply need to be stored.
And what better space to use for storage than the underused, or even unused loft area. You can just shove a few boxes in there, balancing them on the joists around the access hatch, but boarding your loft or converting it into a proper storage room is a much better idea — and won’t break the bank.
Before you decide on boarding your loft for storage,you need to consider several things.
1. What are you going to store?
This is one of the most important questions, as it will determine both the type of insulation required (see 4 below) and the area of the loft to be boarded (see 5).
2. Do you have enough head room?
Depending on the pitch of your roof, parts of your loft may not afford standing room, other areas might be hardly accessible at all. Consider the ease of moving in the loft space before you decide how much of the loft to board
3. Are the joists strong enough to support the extra weight of flooring and your stuff?
Great majority of lofts are perfectly safe for storage conversions, but if in any doubt, getting a professional survey — usually offered for free — is the best idea. You don’t want to compromise the structural integrity of your house, after all!
Type and amount of insulation required depends on what you are planning to store in the loft. Doing loft work is also a great occasion to improve energy efficiency of your house.
In many cases, fitting standard (between-the-joists) insulation is sufficient, and together with the newly fitted flooring, will reduce heat loss and your heating bills.
However, if you are planning to store items that could be damaged by humidity or cold, fitting rafter insulation and creating ‘’warm loft’’ conditions is highly advisable.
This will, obviously, depend on how much stuff you have to store, but don’t forget about the space needed to access the stuff and move between the boxes or cupboards. You will also need some floor space to stow away the loft ladder, unless you get a space-saving concertina one.
Remember also that loft boarding creates extra insulation, so it might be worth doing even if your total loft area is larger than what you need at the moment. And as we all know, the total amount of stuff to store can only grow, so having extra space might come in very handy few years down the line.
On the other hand, hard to access spaces with low headroom (eg deep in the eaves) are of no use and are better left unboarded, allowing for significant cost savings.
6. How will you light your way around the loft storage room?
You don’t want to be rummaging in your loft with a torch, or dragging extension cables up there every time you need to retrieve something, so invest in proper lighting. Natural lighting from skylights or roof windows (these can be easily fitted between the rafters and don’t require any permits) combined with fixed electric lighting offers maximum flexibility. You will need an electrician to install the lighting, or, if you hire professionals to do the boarding, they will fit it as part of the whole package.
7. How will you deal with existing wiring and pipes?
Any boarding will need to accommodate existing cables. Loft boarding should be thus slightly raised (usually using wooden battens), as cutting into the joists to make room for the wires might compromise their structural integrity and is definitely not recommended.
8. How will you deal with existing wiring and pipes?
All the new storage space won’t be much use if you can’t access it comfortably and safely. Such access would usually require:
- Well-sized access hatch positioned in a convenient location. Modern houses will be often equipped with a standard-sized hatch, in old properties it might be tiny and hard to reach. Enlarging the hatch is often enough, but sometimes creating a new opening might be a better solution.
- Safe, secure and comfortable to use loft ladder. There is a large choice on the market, from basic aluminium sliding ones to stylish folding wooden steps to state-of-the-art electric remote-controlled systems. The optimal choice depends on the space available, your specific needs (e.g. handrails, weight rating) and your budget. If in doubt, get advice from a professional ladder fitter.
Some easy loft adaptations for storage can be done by skilled DIY-ers, others will almost certainly require professional fitters. Even if you are not all fingers and thumbs, you might want to consider hiring professionals to get the job done quickly, efficiently and safely and at a price that might pleasantly surprise you. But whichever route you choose, considering the issues above will help you get it right.
To book a survey, get a quote or simply ask any questions of Loft Professionals, get in touch.