Is My Loft / Attic Suitable for Loft Boarding?
The answer is, almost certainly, YES.
Most attic spaces can be boarded, although the job is not always completely straightforward and it might be a good idea to get help from professionals dealing with loft boarding and loft conversions to make sure you make the best of what you have.
This article discusses the main factors that will affect whether you can board your loft safely and whether it actually makes sense.
The amount of headroom you have
This depends on the pitch of your roof and the construction of your home. If your loft is basically a low crawl-space, boarding it might be a bit pointless. You will be better making sure you put in the recommended layer of insulation (270mm) and perhaps putting a small boarded area near the hatch, just for that box of Christmas decorations.
Once you get at least a little bit of standing height, for at least part of your loft area, boarding becomes an excellent solution. It will not only make your loft so much easier and safer to negotiate (no more fear of putting your foot through the ceiling below!), but will also create a surprising amount of storage space. You will say good-bye to all those rarely or never opened boxes cluttering your home!
Boarding the whole extent of your loft isn’t always the best idea: nobody will walk on the hard-to access eaves space anyway. You can save some money and hassle by boarding what is necessary and needed. Don’t forget about putting battens on the edge of the boards, though… just in case you drop something small that could roll off into the space between the joists (and disappear in the insulation forever).
Creating a luxury loft storage room, with custom-built storage solutions, is another option that will help you maximise the use you make of your loft space.
The strength of the joists
This is one of the most important reasons to get a specialist to do a survey of your loft before commencing boarding. You must make sure that your ceiling joists are capable of handling the load of the boards itself, as well as the extra weight of any stored items and people moving around.
It’s worth noting that boarding for storage will not put anywhere near as much of a load on the structure of the house as a full habitable loft conversion would, so it’s very likely that it won’t be an issue. Still, it’s worth getting professionals to assess the job – if you decide to go the DIY route, you will know if it’s structurally safe, and you might be pleasantly surprised by how affordably and quickly a professional loft boarding job can be done.
Are the joists level?
In a new(ish) house, this will almost certainly be a case, but in an old property, which has undergone changes, conversions and repairs of all kind, you might find that different joists sit at slightly (or not so slightly) different levels. This will definitely need to be rectified before the boarding is done.
Is there suitable access?
Some, especially old, lofts, can be only accessed through tiny, awkwardly positioned hatches. Sorting out the access – which might involve enlarging the hatch, or even moving it and creating a new one – might be necessary before you can board your loft.
Once you asses that you loft is suitable for boarding – which, as we have said above, it almost certainly will be – you can decide how much of the loft to board, and what other things you want to sort out at the time. A comfortable, safe ladder to get all the boxes in and out? A couple of roof windows for natural light? Sufficient electric light so you don’t have to rely on torches? Roof insulation for a warm-loft result? Or perhaps a complete storage room in the roof?
If all that made you want to consider getting professional advice…