How to Board a Loft

A loft is the ideal opportunity to create additional storage in your home. Whether for out of season clothing and shoes, remnants of paint, or kids clothing and toys you can’t quite part with yet, it’s a great way to utilise otherwise wasted space.

It will also keep these items out of your accessible everyday storage areas, such as under the stairs or the shed.

To ensure you can store items in the loft—and walk across it safely—it needs to be boarded. You need to use boards which are thick enough, and ensure your joists support the boards. You’re also going to need insulation to protect your home from heat loss.


You will need:

Remember your PPE for this job. You will need:

Always wear these when using power tools and handling insulation.

For your insulation, most homes need around 270mm thickness. This may take you above the joists, so rather than squashing the insulation down (which can affect its efficiency), use the loft stilts or loft supports. These are legs attached to the joists, which your boards can sit on top of.

Don’t attach your boards directly to your joists. In most cases, this won’t leave enough room for the insulation, and compacting the insulation makes it less efficient.


Step by step: How to board a loft

Step 1: Prepare

Remove everything stored in your loft. This will give you a blank space to work with and allow you to assess the current condition of your loft joists and insulation.

If any joists are in poor condition, they will need to be replaced. Roll back the top layer of insulation sitting over the joists to reveal the wood underneath. Ensure you’re wearing gloves, a mask, and eye protection when handling insulation.

You will also need to check the condition of any existing insulation. It may be able to be reused, but if it feels damp or is old, it is best to replace it to ensure maximum efficiency.

Also check for any wires or other issues with your loft space, and remove any existing boards.


Step 2: Measure up

You want to measure up the area you will be boarding. This will tell you how many boards you need to cover the space, how many stilts you need, as well as how much insulation you need to cover the area.

Most people will only board the central part of their loft; the edges where the roof slopes down don’t give you much opportunity for storage. So, take a measurement for the entire loft area which needs insulated, as well as the central part if you’re not boarding the whole space.

Most loft boards are around 18mm thick. Size-wise, you need to think about two things. One, what can fit through your loft hatch. Two, the spacing of your joists.

Most joists will be either 400mm or 600mm apart. Then, most boards are either 1,220mm x 320mm or 2,400mm x 600mm. So, once you have the measurements, you can work out how many boards you will need, and how many stilts.

It is a good idea to draw your space out on some paper to work out spacing and how many of everything you need. You will need to use a jigsaw to cut boards to size if needed.


Step 3: Temporarily board the loft

Unless you use the joists as a path, working around your loft will be hard. One wrong move, and your foot could come through the ceiling boards. So, lay out a few temporary boards across the joists for stability.

You should start the boarding at the joist furthest away, so make a safe path from the loft hatch to your starting spot.


Step 4: Insulate & add supports

Cover the space between your joists with insulation if you’re not using what is already there. Don’t layer above the joists and remember to use PPE when handling insulation. Once done, it is time to add the supports or stilts.

Position and fix the first stilt in the furthest corner from the loft hatch. Then, move on to the next joist, and add one in line too. Once you have completed the entire row, it’s time to move onto the next row.

Go back to the first stilt. Loosely position the next stilt on the joist, before using a tape measure to work out where the stilt will have to sit. You can position a board on top of this to double check positioning.

Once you’re happy, drill the stilt to the joist. Use this first stilt in the second row as a guide for the full row, ensuring it is in a straight line.

You will then want to add the final layer of insulation between these stilts, sitting on top of the joists. Tear the insulation to allow the stilts to still protrude.


Step 5: Lay the loft boards

Now lay the boards across the stilts.

Boards should be offset, just like if you were laying laminate flooring. This will increase their stability. So, start with one full board in the corner, then use half a board to start the next row, and continue.

Carry on, until all boards in the row are loosely positioned. Once you’re happy with the positioning, screw boards one by one into the stilts. Working row by row ensures you can make any minor adjustments required as you go along, which includes cutting boards to size or moving stilts.

how to board a loft


How do I know how many stilts I need?

There should be a stilt at the edge of your boarded area where you begin, on top of every joist. Each board should then meet the halfway point of the next joist along, before you lay your next board.

Most boards are either 2,400mm x 600mm, or 1,220mm x 320mm. Which you choose depends on the size of your loft hatch and the spacing between your joists.

There will need to be a stilt at each corner, and then either two or four stilts in the middle of the board, depending on how many joists the board passes over.


Do I need to cut my loft boards to size?

You may have to, depending on the overall size of the space you’re boarding, and the joist gaps in your home. Older homes can be particularly unpredictable to measure in relation to modern board sizes. If you do, use a jigsaw.



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