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The Do's and Donts of Loft Boarding

When boarding out a loft, some people install the loft boards incorrectly. Learn from these loft boarding do's and don'ts and create the perfect attic.

Clutter is slowly taking over your living space, and you've had enough. You're finally ready to use your loft as the perfect storage space to simplify your life.

You're not the only U.K. homeowner who feels this way. Research shows that 47% of people in the U.K. hesitate to invite people into their homes due to clutter.

Fortunately, loft boarding is an inexpensive and easy way to achieve a useful storage space. However, when installing loft boards many people install the boards incorrectly.

Here's a rundown on the do's and don'ts of installing loft boards that you need to follow to create the perfect loft.

Let's jump in!

Why Install Loft Boards?

Storing items in an un-boarded loft can be difficult, compromise the insulation, and can even be dangerous.

Loft boarding involves installing loft boards to create safe, usable space in your loft.

Loft boarding can provide you with the extra space you need for your occasional storage or simply provide a safe passage way from the loft hatch to equipment in the loft.

Loft boarding may also increase your home's value, as storage space is in demand in the U.K. A future buyer may choose your home over another one simply because yours comes with additional storage.

The Do's of Loft Boarding

Although installing loft boards offers numerous benefits, the process can be confusing if you've never done it before. For instance, you may be wondering how to correctly insulate your loft during the loft board installation process. You might also wonder whether your loft boards should go directly onto your joists or trusses, or be raised over your insulation.

Here's a rundown on what you should do to install loft boards correctly.

Obtain the Right Tools for Your Loft Boarding Project

Before beginning your loft boarding project, you should ensure you have adequate personal protective equipment. For instance, dust masks, overalls, and gloves to protect yourself as you work. Loft insulation, specifically glass fibre insulation, is an irritant and should not come into direct contact with your skin.

You'll also need a few other tools and materials to complete the task. These include loft boards, Loft Flooring Legs (more on this later), a pencil, tape measure, timber saw, general purpose countersunk screws, an electric screwdriver and a knife.

Evaluate Your Current Insulation

Before you install loft boards, you'll need to assess your insulation's current depth.

The U.K. government recommends that quilt insulation should be 270 mm deep to achieve a U-Value of 0.16 W/m2K. This will make your house cooler during the summer months and warmer during the winter months. In turn, it may save you a few hundred pounds per year in reduced energy bills.

If your insulation's depth doesn't meet this standard, the insulation will need topping up to achieve the best possible thermal performance.

Unfortunately, the U.K.'s homes are less energy efficient than most other houses in Europe, mostly because of the age of the nation's housing stock. If yours falls under this category, make sure that your insulation is deep enough to meet government requirements before you begin to lay your loft boards.

Measure the Loft Area

Another important "do" related to loft board installation is to measure your loft before buying and installing the boards.

To do this, multiply the loft's useable width by its useable length. Be sure to also measure the distances between trusses and loft joists.

With this information, you can calculate the size and number of loft boards needed to cover your loft space.

Create a Raised Board Area

When you're ready to install your loft boards, you should position them above your insulation using Loft Leg supports designed for this purpose.

This will avoid compressing the insulation and ensure it is working to its maximum potential.

If your insulation is already at 270mm in depth then before you start you will need to roll back the top layer to reveal the joists/trusses. The Loft Legs can then be screwed into position on the top of the exposed joists/trusses prior to rolling back the insulation.

Rolling Back Insulation to Expose Trusses

Loft Legs In Position

Top Up Layer of Insulation in Position And Loft Boards Being Installed on Loft Legs

Stagger Your Boards

When laying your loft boarding, try to stagger the boards. This will prevent your boards' joints from meeting up and create a sturdier end product.

Doing this will involve cutting some of the boarding to fit. To do this, use a pencil to mark your boards. Then, use your timber saw to cut the boards to size.

Afterwards, lay the boards in their correct positions in the loft. You can then secure your boards onto the Loft Legs using multipurpose countersunk screws.

The Don'ts of Loft Boarding

Let's take a look at the main don'ts to follow when installing your loft boarding.

Don't Overload the Joists or Trusses

New build home roof trusses are designed and built to support the weight of the roof structure, storage items and an individual accessing and moving around in the loft. It is recommended that no more than 25Kg per square metre is stored in the loft to avoid over loading the structure.

Note: It is useful to print and attach a warning of the weight limit and overloading hazard near the loft hatch.

However, if your property is older, your loft might not be designed to hold both storage items and the weight of a person walking around. If in doubt, check with a structural engineer before starting your loft boarding project.

If you ignore structural issues related to your roof or ceiling joists, this can cause major problems in the future.

The engineer will assess your ceiling joint size and span. They'll also evaluate your walls and supports.

Don't Install a Loft Board Directly to a Joist or Truss

Don't install your loft boards directly to trusses or joists. Instead, fit Loft Legs to your trusses or ceiling joists to raise the boards above the insulation. Then, install your boards on the legs to create an elevated platform as we mentioned earlier.

This is important because if you compress your insulation, or squash it down, this will reduce your insulation's performance by more than 50%. This leads to greater energy and heat loss through your roof. As a result, you will experience more expensive energy bills.

Keep in mind that your legs' spacing will depend on the trusses and ceiling joists. It will also depend on your boards' sizes.

Also, if your loft's insulation is deeper than the 270 mm the government requires, then you may need extra-large supports for your loft boarding.

Don't Remove or Cut Holes In Your Insulation

You may be tempted to remove insulation from your loft to make room for your loft boards. Don't.

Removing insulation may reduce your home's thermal performance. This will make your property a lot colder during the winter months and increase energy costs to heat your home.

You may also be tempted to cut the insulation around downlights or other equipment in the loft space. Don’t.

Cutting insulation will compromise your insulation, creating a heat chimney and drawing heat from the rooms below into the loft. Instead, consider products such as the Loft Lid downlight cover that can be placed over downlights and allow insulation to be continuously rolled over the top.

Don't Block Air Vents with Insulation

Homeowners who are trying to install loft insulation and boards often make the mistake of blocking their air vents, like their soffit vents, during this process.

Soffit Vents

Soffit vents are very common and provide essential ventilation into the loft space. They work by creating a cross flow of air from eaves to eaves. This airflow helps to remove moiture from the loft space and prevents moisture buildup.

If insulation blocks your air vents, this may cause problems. This reduction in air flow could lead to excessive condensation build up and mould. In extreme cases this can contribute to more serious issues.

In light of the above, you should make certain that your vents remain uncovered when installing insulation and loft boarding and that there are no vents or ducts leading into the loft space from extractor fans in bathrooms or shower rooms.

Don't Remove Trusses or Structural Elements

As you install your loft boards, you might feel tempted to get rid of certain timbers to create more useable space in your loft. This is a big mistake.

All of your loft's trusses work together to provide your roof with the support it needs. These engineered structures are carefully designed to take the weights of the roof, storage as well as the weight of a person walking in the loft. Modifying this structure in any way may cause serious issues.

Don't Cover Your Downlights

Another commonly made mistake made during loft boarding involves covering a loft's downlights.

Let's say you have downlights in your home's ceiling below your loft. You should avoid placing loft boards or insulation directly over your light fittings.

That's because a halogen lamp runs extremely hot. If you cover your fittings, the lamp could overheat and cause significant problems.

Modern light-emitting diode, or LED, bulbs run cooler than their halogen counterparts do. However, some LED manufacturers still recommend not covering them directly with insulation. Always review the manufacturer’s instructions.

To prevent this problem, you may want to cover your downlights with downlight covers, or Loft Lids. Then, you can freely place your insulation over your fittings.

Loft Lid Downlight Cover

These covers are designed to create a safe volume of air around your LED or halogen fittings. They'll also create a sturdy airtight seal.

When each cover's seal is airtight, this will increase your ceiling's energy efficiency. It will also reduce the quantity of heat that escapes into your loft. In addition, it will prevent insects and dust from dropping through your fittings into your home's rooms below.

Always check the cover manufacturers fitting instructions as well as the lamp manufacturers fitting instructions before installation.

How We Can Help

The main do's of a loft board installation project include updating your loft's current insulation and elevating your loft board over it. Meanwhile, the main don'ts of loft boarding include removing trusses to create more space and compressing your loft's insulation.

At Loft Leg, we offer products to assist you in the loft boarding process. For instance, our Loft Lids can protect your loft's downlights and eliminate air leakage and heat loss. In addition, our Loft Legs can help you to raise your loft boards to avoid insulation compression.

Contact us to learn more about our products, and order today!


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