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Loft Boarding Cost: 2020 Fitting & Installation Prices

Many people don’t realise they have a valuable resource sitting under their roof. The loft in your house can be a useful storage area that rarely gets used to its full potential. 

But, to use it properly you must lay flooring boards so you can safely walk around and store those boxes, old suitcases and Christmas decorations. The cost of boarding out a loft is surprisingly affordable for most people, simply because you can floor as much or as little as you need to. And, while you’re up there installing loft boards, you might as well upgrade the loft insulation too. So, get it done and save some money on your heating bills while you can. Times have changed since you last laid some insulation and now the recommended depth is 270mm. 

Let’s assume you want to cover about 40 to 50m2. This is roughly the size of a typical semidetached house. Increased insulation depth means you’ll have to raise the boards to prevent compressing the fibreglass, but there are plenty of gadgets on the market to help you do that. So, flooring a loft of this size will take two people and cost between £1,000 and £1,500. But, although this might seem pricey, think how much longer it would take if you decide to spend your weekends doing it yourself.

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How much does it cost to board a loft? 

In the following table, you’ll see some loft boarding prices, calculated from a full price guide per square metre and some different areas of average-sized lofts. Let’s assume we’re using 18mm chipboard loft panels. These measure 320mm x 1220mm and cost about £8 for a pack of 3 from most DIY stores. These are approximate costs, don’t include VAT, and we assume you’re doing the work yourself. Obviously, if you hire a carpenter youll pay for labour as well. 

Flooring area (m2)  Cost/m2 (£)  Total cost (£) 
15  7  105 
20  7  140 
30  7  210 
50  7  350 

 A carpenter will take about 4 hours to partially board an area around the loft hatch. And, he’ll charge about £120 plus the cost of the boards. Following on from this, he’ll take about a day to fully board the loft and charge about £250 plus materials. If you want to add more insulation and raise the boards to accommodate, it’ll take about another halfday and cost an extra £100 plus materials. Using ‘Loft Legs to raise the boards will cost roughly £10 for a pack of 12.

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Further Cost Considerations 

Other costs will affect the overall price for doing this work, and we should consider these now before we move on. 

Loft size 

Disregarding the extra boards you need to buy if you have a large loft, a smaller loft will be more difficult to move around in. This will, in turn, slow down work. 

Insulation top-up 

The recommended depth of insulation is 270mm at present. This means that most lofts will need a top-up to give the optimum depth and save on heating bills. Fibreglass loft insulation costs between £12 to £25 per roll, depending on specifications, brand and size of the roll. 

Loft Legs 

These are ‘stilts’ that you screw onto the joists. These then support the boards giving enough room underneath to lay more insulation and allow for free airflow. 

Condition 

Depending on the condition of the loft, you might need to spend some time cleaning it out. Many lofts accumulate unwanted rubbish over the years, and this must be removed before starting work.  

You might also need to repair any holes in the roof before the floor goes down. Depending on the age of your loft and the condition of the roof, you might have to remove old boards and insulation before starting afresh. 

If you don’t move this stuff, the carpenter will have to do it and will charge you for the privilege. 

Access 

It’s no use having a usable loft space if its difficult getting up there with the boxes. Many people fit a loft ladder that folds up into the loft when not in use. Depending on the size of the loft hatch you might also have to increase its dimensions to fit the ladder. This isn’t as daunting as it sounds. And, a professional carpenter will be able to do this and install the ladder in about a day. 

Insulate pipes 

Once you’ve laid the boards, it’ll be very difficult to lift them again to maintain the pipework. Check all the pipes and water tanks that might be in the loft and make sure they are properly insulated. Remember, with an extra layer of insulation the loft will be a little bit colder so there’s more chance of the pipes freezing unless you’ve lagged them properly.

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Electrics 

When electrical cables pass electricity, they warm up slightly. The electrician who wired your house chose the cable diameter taking into account the depth of insulation covering them. If you increase the amount of insulation, you’re preventing the warm cables from losing heat at the expected rate. This can cause problems if the cables become too warm. Make sure that the cables aren’t covered by the fibreglass, by having them moved if necessary. 

How to board a loft: Step-by-Step

Board stilts, such as  ‘Loft legs’ all have different installation instructions. So, to prevent confusion we won’t go into the methods of fitting those. We would prefer to leave that in the hands of the manufacturers. Instead, we’ll move on to how to lay the boards. 

Loft boarding comes with tongue and groove on opposite edges so they’re easy to slide together and you don’t have to cut the boards to fit exactly to the joists. Also, you can add PVA wood glue to the grooves to increase the boards’ structural stability.  

Decide how much of the loft area you intend covering and lay the boards in approximately the correct places.  

Start at one side of the loft and join the tongues and grooves as you go along, glueing each board, and laying the loft boards one at a time.  

As you get to the end of each line, cut the last board in half so you can finish off this line with half and keep the other half for starting the next line. This ensures the joints stagger  

As you work across the area, you’ll notice that the board joints will be in line along the long edge, but will be staggered across the short edge. This will also give added strength to the structure and reduce the number of screws necessary.

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Safety tips

Before we move on, let’s consider a few common-sense safety precautions you must take when working in the loft. 

  • Anyone who works in a loft and disturbs fibreglass insulation must wear a dust mask and safety goggles.  
  • Fibreglass can get under your skin so wear some stout working gloves. 
  • Don’t wear heavy boots. Instead, wear soft trainers to make it easier moving around. 
  • You need a strong light source to see what you’re doing in the loft. 
  • Try to avoid loft work in the summer. It can become stifling in a loft and will affect your health and ability to concentrate. If you have no other choice, have plenty of freshwater on hand to drink. 
  • Finally, use a small square piece of board as a moveable working platform so you don’t have to balance on the joists.

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Building Regulations & Planning Permission Requirements 

Unless you’re installing exterior windows or changing the roof profile, you probably won’t need to apply for Planning Permission. But, if you live in a listed building or a conservation area, you might have to abide by other restrictions enforced by the local authority. 

However, you musty comply with Building Regulations. If you’re only using the loft for storage, you should be okay. But, remember that the joists are only designed to hold the roof rafters together and support the ceiling below. So, don’t put too much weight (known as ‘load’) in a small area, or you might find the joists collapsing. If you decide to lay boards, check with Building Control first, to see whether you need to strengthen the joists. 

If you decide on installing a mains electric light in the loft, you must use a qualified electrician. The electrical work must either be inspected by Building Control or you can use a Part ‘P’ certified electrician who can self certify his work.

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Loft Boarding FAQs 

Does boarding loft add value? 

Simply using loft or attic boards might not actually increase your home’s value. But, it will make the property more attractive to a potential buyer. Everyone has a heap of stuff they only use once or twice a year, and if you have somewhere ready-made for them to hide it away, you’re on to a winner. 

Can I put boards over loft insulation? 

Current building regulations recommend a minimum of 270mm insulation in your loft. However, most ceiling joists are usually no more than 100mm deep. This means that it will be impossible to lay loft boarding over insulation and still have the correct thickness insulation without somehow raising the floor an extra 200mm or so. There are two ways you can overcome this problem. 

  • Screw timber battens of the correct thickness across the top of the existing joists at right angles to them.  
  • Use ‘stilts’ such as “Loft Legs” to raise the flooring to the correct level. There are many variations on this product, so find out all you can about them and make an educated choice for the brand you prefer.

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Can you screw loft boards to joists? 

Yes, you can. This is the simplest way to board your loft and provide a safe platform for walking and storage. However, remember that you need at least 270mm clearance to install the correct depth of insulation under the floorboards. You can either do this by screwing battens of the correct depth to the top of the existing joists and at 90 degrees to them. Or, using a flooring stilt such as “Loft Legs”.  

Never, ever use nails to either fix the joist extensions or the flooring. If you do, you’ll find the ceiling below the joists will vibrate and the plasterboard nails will work loose. 

Can you walk on loft boards? 

Yes. It’s quite okay to walk on loft flooring boards. They have the effect of spreading the load to distribute your weight over several joists. Even if you use ‘loft stilts’ you’ll find that those also spread the load. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions when installing ‘loft stilts’ as different versions might not be able to carry enough load. 

How much does it cost to fit a loft ladder? 

The answer to this question is “it depends”. If you want to install a simple loft ladder and there are no complications then it’ll usually cost between £200 and £300 to install the ladder and make a new hatch. Materials will be extra on top of this. However, the cost will vary depending on the style of the ladder and whether the hatch needs extending. Some loft ladders need a hatch almost twice as large as a standard hatch. So, ladders like these will need the joists cut back to accommodate the opening and a trimmer joist inserted to take the load of the other joists.

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How much weight can loft joists take? 

Remember that loft joists are designed to take the load of the ceiling below, with a factor of safety. This is why if you load them too much, it’s possible to crack the joists and bring the ceiling down. Typically, a loft joist will support a load of up to 40kg/m2.  So, providing your Christmas decorations don’t weigh more than this, you should be okay. 

Find Loft Boarding Specialists

Installing floorboards in your loft might be within the skills of an enthusiastic DIY amateur, as might laying fibreglass insulation. However, altering a loft hatch to make it wider for installing a loft ladder, will be a bit harder to do, as it takes some serious technical carpentry knowledge. If you would rather keep your weekends free for quality time with family and friends, hire a professional to board out your loft and install a ladder. 

If you want some idea of loft boarding costs and all those tasks that go with it. Complete the form on this page and send it off. Very soon you’ll receive 2 or 3 quotes from loft installers and carpenters local to you. We have already weeded out the unsuitable candidates, so you can be sure that our skilled professionals have the necessary experience to do a good job.

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