Insulating Roofs and Lofts

Insulate the loft floor, if the space is only used for storage. But if the loft has been turned into a room or if you plan to convert it into a room insulate the roof. You can make it easier to store things on the floor if you put down flooring-grade chip-board after you have insulated between the joists, and this also adds an extra insulating layer.

You cannot use the area as a room just because there is chip-board on the floor, although it is safe to walk on the chipboard for short periods of time. Loft conversions involve more complicated work which must be done by professionals and which must conform with building regulations. The joists in the floor, which are in fact only ceiting joists for the room below and must be strengthened or new floor joists must be inserted.

For this reason it is unwise to store too many heavy things, like furniture and piles of books, in the loft Before you start work, clear the floor space as much as possible and spring clean the loft to remove accumulated dust by using a vacuum cleaner, if possible. It may be worth hiring an industrial one. At the same time, look for signs of wood-worm and rot, and if necessary call in a specialist contractor.

Also, check that the wiring does not need to be replaced. If you encounter rubber-covered cables, you should probably rewire with PVC cables. If in doubt, consult a qualified electrician.

If the loft does not have a boarded floor, you must keep your weight on the joists. Do not step on the plaster or plasterboard as your leg will probably go through and you could injure yourself as well as having to repair the ceiling below. Find a stout board which is thick enough to take your weight and long enough to be laid across at least two joists. It may be easier if you have two or three similar boards so that you do not have to keep moving the one you are on.

If the loft has no lighting, connect a safety light to a socket downstairs or run a table lamp off an extension cable. A torch will not give adequate light.

Opinions vary as to whether gloves are necessary when handling glass fibre and mineral wool products. If the fibre does not cause too much irritation, use bare hands and rinse them with cold water when you stop work. If you decide to wear gloves, tuck them into an old long-sleeved shirt to prevent fibres from getting inside. If they do get into the gloves, loose fibres will cause more irritation than if you wore no qloves at all.
Wear a face mask to keep dust out of your lungs if you are handling mineral wool or glass fibre, or if the surroundings are very dusty. It is also a good idea to wear a safety helmet to protect your head against the rafters as it is easy to forget that you have little headroom when you are working under the eaves.