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Can I insulate a boarded loft?

posted by Carolyn Kempster on 31 August 2011

tags: insulation ,

Loft insulation is a great way of making your home more energy efficient, warmer, and keeping your energy bills low.  But many people use their lofts as storage, with large boarded areas to allow you to hide away all of those things you don’t really use or need, but are loathe to get rid of. 

I can remember going up into my parent’s loft as a child with my dad and being fascinated at what was up there, even though it was just a few baby clothes, old school reports, and Christmas decorations.

If your loft isn’t boarded and you have it insulated, the insulation material will be laid first between the joists up to the same height as the top of the joists; and then across in the other direction. 

Any approved installer will ensure that there is 270mm of insulation as this is the recommended guideline.  This means you will be left with a nice thick layer of insulation, making it a really effective solution. But if your loft is boarded, does that stop you from having insulation laid?

The answer is... it depends!  Different installers have different policies, but most of the time it will be possible to find a solution. 

If the boards can be lifted easily then the best idea is to have them removed and insulation laid as I described before.  Think of it as an opportunity to have a proper clear out and get rid of all that stuff you’ve hidden away up there!  If your boards have been down for a long time though, it’s possible that they’ve become part of the structure and trying to remove them would not be safe.

If the boards have to stay, you can often lay the insulation on top of them and it will do just as good a job of keeping your house toasty and warm in the winter and cooler in the summer.  If you have no insulation at all under the boards then you can have the full 270mm placed on top of the boards.  If it is full of insulation underneath then you only need to have a thinner layer laid on top to get you up to the recommended amount.

The only time that you may find an insulation installer reluctant to lay insulation on top of boards is if there is a little bit of insulation underneath them, but not right up to the top.  In this case it might not be a good idea to lay more across the boards as the air gap could allow dampness to travel. However, don’t be discouraged as it will depend on your particular loft and the only way to know for sure is to have an insulation expert visit you and survey your house.

Making sure you’ve got the full 270mm of loft insulation is always a good idea, but especially in this climate of rising energy costs.  The only real question to ask yourself is; “where shall I store the Christmas decorations?”

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