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Without proper measures in place, your loft is not a safe or ideal storage location. Its primary purpose isn’t for storing stuff, and there’s the risk you – or heavy items – could fall through the ceiling. So, it makes sense to put some solid flooring down, for both safety and practical reasons.
However, even once your loft boards are installed, you should still heed weight restrictions on the boards themselves and not store items that are too heavy. Let’s look at how much it costs to board a loft, and what you need to know.
Reasons Why You Might Want to Board Your Loft
Aside from the obvious reason of having somewhere practical to keep seasonal decorations and items you don’t need right now, what are the other benefits to boarding out your loft?
- Declutter Your Living Space -- Minimalism is hip right now. If you want to declutter your space of stuff you rarely use but still want to keep, a well-boarded loft is a perfect place to keep treasures that you might wish to access in the future.
- Better Insulation -- Boarding out your loft can help to improve the insulation in your home, stopping the heat from escaping through your roof and saving on your heating bills.
- Extra Space -- Boarding out your loft can certainly provide you with some much-needed extra space. However, if it’s extra living space you’re after, you’ll need a full loft conversion which is a lot more involved.
Boarding Your Loft: What You Need to Consider
For insulation, building regulations recommend a depth of 250-270mm. You don’t need planning permission or building regulations approval if laying simple boarding in a small section. However, if you want to use it as a living area, you probably won’t need planning permission but you will need to get building regulations approval to meet certain requirements.
Insulation and Condensation
Boarding your loft improperly can defeat the purpose of improving your insulation. Also, reduced airflow can cause condensation, which risks damaging your carefully stored possessions.
As well as being unsafe, loft areas can be dusty, and there’s a risk of irritation from insulation fibres (glass fibre insulation especially – I speak from experience!). If you’re going to do it yourself, make sure you wear suitable protective gear such as a mask, goggles, overalls and gloves. Also, you should ensure the area is clear from hazardous obstacles such as loose cables or floorboards, and have a dedicated workspace by laying a temporary board across the joists.
Boarding a Loft: Can You Do It Yourself?
You can do this yourself, depending on your time, skills and experience. Here are three popular options to consider:
- You could lay the decking boards directly onto the joists. Avoid compressing your loft insulation though; this will reduce the recommended depth and its effectiveness, resulting in higher heating bills.
- You could install extra timbers or ‘loft legs’ on top of the joists before laying the boards. This option should allow for laying any extra insulation if required while leaving you a gap for airflow to combat condensation.
- You can purchase and install purpose-made loft insulation boards on top of the joists. Insulation boards are a more expensive option than insulation fibres, so bear this in mind if you are on a budget.
If boarding the full loft, it’s important to leave space between the boards and the eaves to ensure the air from the vents can still circulate.
The website ‘Homebuilding and Renovating’ have a useful step-by-step guide to boarding your loft, with a list of tools you will need, and a section on adding loft legs for a raised loft floor.
For a visual aid, check out this video from Wickes, detailing everything you need, and a step-by-step guide to fitting a raised floor with loft boards, using loft legs.
How Much Does it Cost to Board a Loft?
Costs to Consider
To work out a budget, you’ll first need to decide how much space you need. Will you be boarding out a small section, or the full length of your loft? From the above loft-boarding options, which is the better solution for you? From this, you will be able to determine whether you need to purchase insulation, timber or loft legs, in addition to the boards.
Other questions to ask yourself is whether you will need a pull-down ladder, or a new access hatch to accommodate it. This is something you can get a professional to fit for you if you don’t want to do this yourself.
If you’re going down the DIY route, remember to include any other costs you might incur through purchasing or hiring any tools or equipment you don’t already have.
Typical Material Cost
You can pick up a pack of 3 x 18mm chipboard loft panels measuring 320mm x 1220mm from Wickes for around £8, or larger chipboard flooring measuring 600mm x 2400mm for around £10, depending on your requirements.
Loft-roll insulation prices range from £12 -- £26, depending on your chosen brand and the top-up depth requirement.
Loft-legs are around £10 per pack of 12.
(Material prices obtained from Wickes.co.uk November 2019)
Typical Labour Cost
The data in the below table is obtained from the website “My Job Quote“, to provide an example of what you might pay when hiring a professional to complete the job for you. If this sounds like a better option for you due to time restraints, etc, you can contact a trusted trader at Rated People to obtain full quotations. Ensure you obtain at least three quotations, and ask for testimonials.
|Job||Description||Time to Complete||Material Cost||Labour Cost||Material/Labour Split (%)|
|Partial||Boarding a partial area around the loft hatch. Chipboard flooring. No added insulation||4 hours||£100||£120||45/55|
|Full||Full boarding of the loft with chipboard flooring. No added insulation||1 day||£220||£245||47/53|
|Full + Insulation||Full boarding across the loft, raising the floor height and adding extra insulation||1.5 days||£550||£320||63/37|
For a simple storage solution, you can see that it’s not beyond the scope of a confident and capable DIYer to board a loft, and the materials are not hugely expensive. But in addition to reading this guide, do your research, and remember – safety first. Alternatively, hire a professional to get the job done for you, which you can do through Rated People.
Do you have any experience in adding boards to your loft space? Let us know in the comments below to help out other readers. If you enjoyed this article, please share!