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One way we can all utilise our roof space is by laying down some boarding.
Creating a basic storage solution is very easy and quick and you certainly don’t need much in the way of DIY skills to do the job and is fairly easy to learn how to board a loft.
The materials you need can be purchased very cheaply from DIY stores as either small panels or large (8’x2’) chipboard sheets.
The panels are more convenient to work with as they are smaller and easier to manage though will work out a little more expensive than the larger sheets.
Whichever material you decide to work with the cost of boarding your loft should only be a few hundred pounds.
And, the only other items you will need are wood screws, a saw and screwdriver.
The first thing to determine is the area of your roof space to see how many sheets you will need. Measure the depth and length and then multiply to work out the area.
If you are carrying out the project simply to provide secure storage then it may be wise to just board the middle without trying to reach the awkward area under the eaves – you won’t lose much space and the job will be completed much faster.
Before laying the boarding the joists can be raised, levelled and strengthened by laying timber battens across them (minimum 2”x1”).
This also a good idea if you have electrical cables running on the top of the joists.
If you aren’t adding some strengthening (i.e., you will only be using the loft for very light storage) ensure you have an electrician re-route the wiring – don’t be tempted to cut into the joists to ‘bury’ the wiring, this will weaken the joists too much.
Once the extra joists have been added simply butt the loft boarding against each other making sure they join in the middle of a joist, and then fix with a 1.5” to 3” screw.
If using longer screws make sure they are not so long that they will go through the timber and into the ceiling!
By the way, don’t nail the loft boarding down. Using screws enables the boards to be easily taken up at a later date if necessary and hammering nails in the loft could cause a plaster shower in the rooms below!
When working in the loft do take care not to step off a joist and wear suitable clothing. Goggles, hat, mask and gloves are important and make sure your arms are covered.
The fibres on the old style insulation are horrendously irritating if they make contact with your skin and, of course, the mask is essential so that you don’t inhale any of the dust which will envelope you as you work.
When screwing the sheets to the joists take extra care to avoid electrical wiring. Each board will probably only require two screws to be made secure.
This kind of project will not normally require planning permission or even building regulations approval but if going any further, fitting a roof light for example, then contact your council’s building office to confirm you do not have to make an application for the work to be approved.
Using Chipboard For Your Loft Boarding
Using large tongue and grooved sheets of chipboard for boarding a loft is both quick and easy and can quite comfortably be accomplished by someone working on his own and is one of the easiest DIY loft conversion projects.
Packs of flooring grade chipboard are readily available from most DIY stores or independent joinery shops and are usually supplied in lengths of approximately 8’x2’.
To work safely when boarding a loft use one or more of the lengths of chipboard as a mobile platform instead of trying, and inevitably failing, to balance on the joists.
The chipboard is fitted directly to the joists but, when boarding a loft, ensure that the lengths of chipboard are laid at right angles to the joists, i.e., across a number of joists and not laid astride two of the joists.
Laying the chipboard across the run of the joists will of course add plenty of strength.
Starting in one corner lay the first board onto the joists ensuring the tongue is nearest to you, i.e., furthest away from the wall.
Screw the boards into place making sure you are not driving the screw anywhere near to cabling or piping and that they are not closer than a couple of inches to the edge of the board.
Once the first board is secured run PVA clue into the end groove of the next board. Push the second board flush with the first ensuring the joint is tight by tapping with a hammer.
Complete the first row in this fashion, cutting the final board to length if required.
The next row of the loft flooring is begun by running the PVA into the full length of the groove on the first board before pushing the board flush into the already secured first row board.
Then simply carry on the same procedure with the rest of the boards remembering to run the PVA into the full length of the groove as well as the butt end of the board.
The final piece of boarding will probably need to be cut to size and forced into position with a prybar.
When boarding a loft in this fashion you may to consider cutting an access hole in one or more of the boards to allow easy access to cabling or piping.
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The old loft water tank will need to be moved if the roof space is being converted into a habitable room
Structural calculations for loft conversions are of course hugely important to ensure safety and that the proposed plans meet building regulations