Boarding out a 1950s house loft

When I used to hear my mother muttering, ‘you can never have enough storage’, I used to simply think, well stop buying crap and you won’t need to horde it all. Oh how times have changed and naturally the art of not hording possessions is easy said then done!

Loft space post stripping back the insulation.

The Norfolk Explorers are not different in our endless pursuit to fill every void in the family abode. Not happy with a conservatory, garage and a shed to fill up we are now spilling into the lesser frequented areas of the house….the loft.

Now the lady who owned the house prior to use kindly got the loft correctly insulated (at the time of writing this UK government advice is that insulation should be between 250mm and 270mm) with depths of nearly 450mm in areas! Now this is all good until you want to utilise this extra space.

Let there be light! Working in a loft without some good quality lighting is a no no. The biggest reason for getting this bit right first is one wrong foot, particularly before any boards are down can result in a poor foot placement and BAM! You’re foot is hanging through the sealing. After doing some quick research I stumbled across a 2 foot LED light which comes prepared with a 1 meter cable from Screwfix for a bargain of just £16.99. For the sake of the project I have purchased just one however my intention is to have several of these around the parimeter to really brighten up the space. I also chose a set of lights that were suitable for outdoor use, the reason behind this choice is although they are inside my concern was moisture etc in the air and for the sake of £3 I didn’t want to run the risk. As I said the light comes pre wired therefore all you need to do is simply get an old plug and wire in the neutral and the live (no earth required). I’m not an electrician and I don’t really think you need to be one to complete this task however if in doubt pay someone. Its not worth risking if your that unsure. However with a little confidence and the all so wise YouTube, you’ll have this done in no time. From here I simply screwed it up and plugged it in. Assuming that your loft was a ‘dead space’ before I can imagine you don’t have sockets in your loft. I advise you do as its always helpful along the way and overall isn’t especially expensive.

Light fixture for the loft

Once I had light it came the task of planning my attack, and to do so I needed some materials. As I’ve said on previous blogs I don’t for a second claim to be a builder and all what I am discussing is my own decisions and in no way reflects what you should do. Before most projects I do talk to tradesman, friends and family to get their view before commencing.

From B&Q I needed two things, loft boards and 2x4s, and I’ll explain why. One cannot simply chuck some loftboards down on the rafters and screw them down, it is critical to raise them for two reasons. The first reason is strength. Laying a second set of rafter running in the opposite direction to the original rafters once screwed down creates a Web effect and therefore strengthens the overall floor area of the build. The second reason is insulation. It is key that you maintain as much depth of the insulation as possible underneath the flooring and limit the ‘squashing’ of the material as this reduces its insulating properties.

With tools in hand it was time to start the build. Starting from the loft hatch I marked the rafters to ensure that the new 2×4 that was sitting ontop in the opposite direction was dead square. Ie when I screwed it down the existing rafters were at a dead 90 degree angle to the new ones I was placing down. This is really important to get right as when lining up your loft boards later on , if this isn’t straight you’ll have an absolute nightmare! The second thing to bear in mind at this point is the spacing between the new top rafters. The loft boards come in a standard length of either 1200mm or 2400mm (i used 1200mm as they are easy to get through the loft hatch) therefore the spacing needs to ensure that when you get to the end half the rafter is empty to allow the next board to butt up to it. Therefore when measuring the rafters need to be spaced 400mm to the centre of the next rafter, thus meaning each board sits on 4 rafters with each end being half on a rafter.

Spacing out the rafters – 400mm centres

Lining up the rafters and screwing then down is very simple. Ensuring your screws are long enough and you ensure you are not trapping any wires, drill the screw in the rafters at a 45 degree angle towards the base of the new rafter, resulting in the screw joining both the new and old rafters. This simple manoeuvre should be repeated from alternative sides. Ie screw one in from the right side and one from the left side. This helps bond everything together and aids stability.

Before adding the boards at this stage it is important to pack out the new elevated spacing between the new rafters. Luckily for me there was plenty of insulation in the loft to simple line the gaps. Don’t force it in just make sure its well filled, this type of insulation works by trapping air in it which it cannot do if compressed.

Laying the boards is very simple if you’ve ensured your rafters are at 90 degree angles and are spread at that 400mm centres as earlier said. Simply place them ontop, ensure they are square and wack a screw into the corners and over any rafters to ensure its firmly tied down. As previously mentioned always keep an eye out on cables etc ensuring not to trap or catch them with the drill.

4 boards down approx 1.8m2

In the of an hour I’d laid the 4 new rafters and put 4 boards down giving up an extra 1.8m2 of usable storage space. Over the coming weeks I will continue to board out the entire loft giving us more then enough storage. The process is exactly the same therefore I am confident it will go without a hitch.

Thank you for taking the time to read the blog and I hope you find it helpful. Whilst your here why not check out our previous blogs on destinations to visit with the family or any of the other many blogs available, or check us out on Instagram for the daily dose.

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