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Is boarding a loft with LoftZone the easier option?

Posted by Alex Barrett on 23 August 2016 at 9:45 am

Loft insulation is a vital component of any energy efficient house, but installing the recommended 270mm of loft insulation can cut into storage space. One way to get around this is to add extra joists, or to use a dedicated system like LoftZone, so you can board above the recommended depth of insulation, providing safe access to secure storage in your loft.

On YouGen’s sister website, SuperHomes, you can read how Mark Brown DIY boarded his loft using extra wooden joists. Here, we talk to Dave Raval, also a SuperHome owner, about LoftZone, a flexible system of steel cross beams to construct a raised platform to carry loft boards. Dave helped develop the system and brought it to market. In the following exchange Dave explains how the LoftZone system works and the advantages for those retrofitting their loft space.

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Q. Can you tell us a bit about your StoreFloor system?

A. "The LoftZone StoreFloor system is designed to offer safe and secure storage space in your loft, whilst also allowing you to have the full depth of insulation to prevent heat loss. In surveys conducted, we've discovered that 82% of people squash their insulation to allow them to use their lofts for storage, but this reduces the effectiveness of the insulation by at least 50%. The LoftZone system overcomes that problem by creating a raised deck above the insulation which is easy to install and gives you the storage space you need, whilst making sure your insulation is working exactly as it's meant to."

"It's also suitable for nearly all types of homes, including new-build homes. We're the only construction certified loft floor system and have been fully tested to British Standards. We’ve won numerous awards, including the Best New Invention award at the Ideal Home Show, Best Energy Saving idea from the Citizens Advice Bureau, and best practical energy saving Invention from Oxford University."

Q. How was the system invented?

A. "The honest answer – in a pub near Woking!! One of the inventors was a Chartered Surveyor who knew that loft insulation was almost always squashed, and together with his friend, he came up with the solution. We then invested our own money to design and manufacture the product, all in the UK and now we sell it all over the world."

Q. How does it work?

A. "The StoreFloor system has only three parts: galvanised steel Cross-Beams, and recycled plastic Tri-Supports and Uni-Supports. The Tri-Supports sit on top of the joists, giving you clearance above the full depth of insulation in a loft. The Cross-Beams slide on the Tri-Supports and safely and securely support the loft-boards, whilst the Uni-Supports help to spread the load across the system and add additional stiffness where required."

Q. What are the advantages?

A. "There are many advantages to our kit:

  • It's lighter and faster to install than using heavy materials like timber
  • It’s designed to be adaptable and works with a variety of roofs, including those with uneven or warped joists.
  • The air gap above the insulation prevents condensation and subsequent damp, which can occur with other raised floor products."

"We're the only product that is designed to support loft boards both to the manufacturer's specifications, but also in situations where joists are unevenly spaced or where obstructions are present. Other systems risk condensation under boards, which the air-gap in our system removes. The LoftZone system is also compatible with the full 350mm depth of insulation, whereas other products cannot offer such height."

"Comparing it to other alternatives, StoreFloor is lightweight and won't overload ceiling joists like timber does, and also doesn't contain any chemicals that can damage wiring unlike rigid foam. Our Cross-Beams are designed so that you don't have to cut loft boards to size for them to fit and the entire kit is made so it's easy to install."

So why board your loft?

Q. How much storage space do you generally lose by installing the required depth of insulation and how does your system help to keep the loft accessible?

A. "A properly insulated loft is great at keeping the rooms below warm, and saving on energy bills, but means you lose the use of probably the largest single area of your house. This is bad news, in the biggest ever survey of how people use their lofts (6,000 responses), 78% of people said that loft storage was “very important” or “essential”.

"The LoftZone system creates a sturdy deck above the insulation which means that you can still use the loft for storage without compressing the insulation. You can deck as much or as little of the loft as you like, too. It's also much safer to walk in the loft with StoreFloor in place (no need to watch your step and risk falling through the plasterboard ceiling!), which means you can go all over your loft without having to worry about your footing."

Q. Why is compressing insulation such a major problem?

A. "Insulation works mainly through the air trapped inside it: the more compressed the insulation, the less air that can be trapped. We asked the National Physical Laboratory to test this, with their study showing that when insulation is compressed from 270mm to a joist height of 100mm, its performance halves! - meaning that your heat loss doubles. So even though you might think the insulation is working the way it's supposed to, it really isn't!"

A. Why is an air gap important?

Q. "When you have deep insulation, the humid air that rises from the floor below gets cooler, as you’d expect. If there is a cool surface which the air touches, such as a loft board above the insulation, you risk condensation forming on the underside of the board. The LoftZone system avoids this by leaving an air gap for ventilation between the insulation and the boards. This is very important, as you don’t want your house to start to have damp problems. However some raised loft systems don’t have this necessary air gap."

Practicalities

Q. How easy are the boards to assemble? Particularly in the tight confines of a loft?

A. "The kit is lightweight – each LoftZone part weighs no more than 1kg, whilst the boards weigh about 5kg each. Most homeowners have found that it's easiest to start from the loft hatch and work outwards, but it's really up to personal choice. The deck can be laid out in a number of shapes too, square, rectangular, L- or T-shaped, it’s up to you! Importantly, the adjustability of the Cross-Beams over the top of the Tri-Supports means you don’t have to cut the boards, which is a messy and awkward job in a loft. All you'll need that isn't provided is a tape measure and an electric screwdriver. Our kits also come with all screws necessary for installation."

Q. How easy is it to get the materials into the loft in the first place?

A. "All parts of the kit are lightweight, so as long as you've got easy access to the loft via a ladder or similar system, then it's easy to get the materials in to the loft."

Q. How easy is it to install these boards yourself? Will a professional need to carry out the work?

A. "The kit is easy to assemble by DIY’ers – we have even had a 70 year old grandmother of five fit it in her own house. Though we also have Approved Installers, if you’d prefer to leave it to someone else."

"We offer comprehensive installation instructions, both with the kit and also online. There's also a handy installation guide available on our YouTube channel,"

"Obviously, if you're not fully confident in assembling the kit yourself, then you can get professionals in to do the job for you. We don't offer installation ourselves, however we have an approved installer network that covers most of the UK."

Q. Are loft boards strong enough to walk on? Do you have to be careful where you secure them in order to spread the weight?

A. "So long as you fit the loft boards in accordance with our instructions, they’re very sturdy and certainly strong enough to walk upon. The LoftZone deck has passed tests of over 500kg per square metre, though we don’t recommend you load your deck this much as most houses’ joists are not as strong as this."

"The Uni-Supports included in the kit help spread the load across the loft boards, and we offer one for every two cross beams as standard. Usually, this is sufficient for infrequent walking – however, if you're going to be walking on the boards a lot, then extra Uni-Supports can be purchased to help provide some additional stiffness."

Q. How easy is it to access the space under the boards, to conduct repairs or run wires later on?

A. "The boards are easy to take up if required, using an electric screwdriver once again to remove the fixing screws. The Cross-Beams are also adjustable, since they can slide over the top of the Tri-Supports, and it's possible to miss out a joist where you may be running wiring etc., whilst still having a strong deck. Other leg or stilt systems can't do this and obstructions are a problem, which is not the case with LoftZone."

Q. Does it work best with a certain type of insulation? - Are there any types of insulation where this system won’t work?

A. "LoftZone StoreFloor works will all types of insulation, though it’s most commonly used with mineral wool rolls or loose fill insulation."

Q. Does this work well with any other energy saving measures?

A. "The LoftZone deck is often installed, as a building regulation requirement, alongside solar panels or MVHR units, or indeed any other equipment in the loft, since it provides a safe access deck for future maintenance of said equipment."

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Loft boarding is a great way to make the most of your loft space, and the StoreFloor system seems to be an excellent option to easily set up and use. If you have additional insulation, but want to maximise the accessibility of your loft then this is well worth a look. In conclusion Dave tells us that; “LoftZone StoreFloor is the only construction-certified method to board your loft above the full depth of insulation, even in new build properties that normally don’t permit this. It’s all made in the UK and is quite simply the best way to board your loft.”

Reader Discount

To help benefit readers and also to help YouGen, we have set up an arrangement with Dave and the LoftZone team. With a discount code, readers can enjoy a 10% discount on the list price for StoreFloor parts and kits for a first order.

LoftZone will gift a similar 10% of the list price to YouGen when you place your order, so helping us continue to provide the blogs our readers have come to enjoy.

To claim the discount, enter the offer code you see on the graphic below in the field provided in the shopping cart when you place your order here.

 

LoftZone on YouGen

The LoftZone StoreFloor

Images courtesy of LoftZone

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Comments

1 comments - read them below or add one

Gary

GaryComment left on: 4 September 2016 at 10:58 pm

Interesting article.  I have thought about doing this for a long time as my 1980s house had only 100mm of aging insulation, hardly covering some areas and generally poorly installed. 

A few months ago I took the plunge and bought enough LoftZone to floor the entire space.  I also decided to use 2400 x 600mm water-resistant T&G flooring chipboard rather than traditional loft boards.

My loft is about 45m2 and the LoftZone kit weighs about 80kg spread over that area, so it does not add much weight - the loft was previously floored so replacing that with new boards did not add additional weight.

Installing the LoftZone was a doddle and I also retro fitted eaves vent protection to ensure airflow is maintained. These cost about 75p each, so about £20 for the roof.

Getting the full boards into the loft was quite hard work and a precision exercise as there was only just enough headroom and space but now it is done I am really pleased with the outcome.  The loft space is much more useable with no gaps to slip your foot into.  It also caused us to clear out a load of attic rubbish and to consider generally what we want to store up there.

I decided to keep the origial insualtion and to top up to a total of about 300mm, right into the eaves, making a nominal 400mm including the original insulation.  The house now has a nice thick woolly hat properly fitted and "pulled down over the ears".  It will be interesting to see whether we feel cosier and/or save energy this winter.

All told the job cost about £800 so it will take a long time to recoupe the investment but sometimes you have to see the bigger picture not only the potential monetary returns.  If I remember, I'll post first year results here in a few months...

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