Boarding over your loft insulation can be a great upgrade for your home when done correctly, so your insulation is not compromised. It can provide you with usable storage, or even extra living space, which will only enhance the value of your property.
Loft boarding is an extremely effective solution for many needing this extra space, but it is important that is it done correctly so there is no negative impact on your existing loft insulation.
So are you really supposed to put loft boards over your insulation?
In an answer, it depends. If your loft has the structural capability to hold the extra weight then boarding is a realistic prospect. Current Building Regulation guidence states that in new builds, all lofts should have the capacity to carry 25kg per metre square.
If your loft space has the weight-bearing capacity to be used for storage or as an extra room then you’ll need to consider whether you are going to look at doing the job of adding loft board yourself or get a professional in to ensure it is done correctly.
For those of you who are considering installing loft boarding yourself, read on to find out how to do it properly…
How To Install Loft Boarding Over Insulation
Installing boarding over insulation in your loft is a relatively straightforward task that can be completed by the keen DIYer. Inevitably there will be plenty of questions that we will attempt to answer.
Can I lay loft boarding on top of insulation?
Loft boards can be placed over insulation but not directly upon it. Board placed on insulation will compress it and massively impact on its effectiveness. You have to make sure that any loft boarding is at a height that does flatten your insulation.
Do I need to leave a gap when adding loft boards over insulation?
Leaving a gap between your insulation and the boards you are intending to use for your loft fit-out is essential. You can create a safe and raised loft boarding using products like loft legs or loft zone supports that elevate the boards at a safe height over the insulation. This will ensure the efficiency of the insulation and the reduction of any ingress from condensation.
The thermal performance of insulation can be reduced by as much as 50% if it is squashed by any boards over it.
Will I need to replace or upgrade my existing insulation before boarding?
In some circumstances, you may have some existing insulation, but it is possible that this may not be effective, either due to age degeneration of it has been compressed by material laid on top of it. Luckily, you don’t need to remove the old insulation, unless it is completely falling apart or has been damaged in any way, and can just add new layers on top to reach the recommended amount.
What do I need to do when boarding over downlights?
To prevent any electrical safety risks, it’s always good to be aware of what kind of light fittings and fixtures you have underneath your insulation. It could be dangerous to place boarding directly over downlights if you have them. If you cover downlight fittings with insulation and then board there is a risk that they could overheat and catch fire, so it is always best to use downlight covers.
Can you install loft flooring boards on trusses or joists?
When installing boards over loft insulation, adding the board directly to the trusses or joists can often be one of the biggest mistakes that people make. When you install boarding straight onto trusses or ceiling joists, it would mean that the insulation would be compacted, resulting in a reduction in the effectiveness of your loft insulation. It is thererefore best avoided.
What are the guidelines regarding insulation depth?
Government guidelines currently require a minimum thickness loft insulation depth of 270mm to achieve the recommended U value. In some cases, to achieve even higher thermal targets, especially in new build homes, the insulation can be even deeper.
The thickness of the insulation can sometimes result in the insulation being deeper than the trusses or joists, and therefore requiring any loft boards to be elevated in order to create a sufficient gap of at least 50mm.
Is planning permission or building regulations approval required for loft boarding?
If you’re boarding out your loft for use as a storage space, then no specific building regulations approval is required. However, if you are intending to board out a loft of attic space to used as an additional room that you intend repeatedly walking on the floor space, such as an office space or bedroom, you will need to seek Building Regulation approval.
How much does boarding a loft cost?
The cost of boarding out your loft will depend on a number of factors including the size of the loft space, the purpose of your loft boarding (whether it is just for storage or as an extra room), whether you need access to your space adding or improving, plus any extras that might be required at the time such as adding extras.
If you are just intending to use the space for storage, then in most cases this can usually be completed in a day. Remember, you don’t have to board out the entire area, you could just board a small section or central area.
For a small straightforward standard loft boarding job you should expect to pay around £650, although the prices will increase with the scale of the job and the complexity of it. If you are needing to add extra insulation, a new loft hatch, or even extra finishing touches, this will add to the cost.
Make use of loft boarding to maximise your space
A lot of homeowners who have a loft at the top of their property aren’t getting the most out of it and many class this area as a “wasted space.” When you are considering boarding your loft out, one of the most important things you need to remember is that installing boards in your loft is an investment for the future, having a positive impact on your home’s energy efficiency and energy bills. The thermal benefits will save you money in the long run and you will also have extra space for storage or use as an additional room.
Boarding out your loft by yourself can seem like an intimidating task and if you have any doubts about boarding over your insulation it is always best to speak to an insulation expert. They will be able to advise you on the correct procedures to ensure that your loft project is carried out in a safe manner and that the energy efficiency of your insulating material isn’t compromised and your heating bills adversely affected.