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Lofty ambitions: making a warm, useful space

loft new floorMany of us have houses with lofts or attics, but often they are cold, dank places chockful of lumber - remnants of childhood that we can't bring ourselves to dispose of, or obsolete items that 'might just come in handy' someday. Where else would we store those boxes of old school books, or a once voguish black-and white TV set with knobs, or the inflatable dingy with the puncture that was never fixed?

Beyond the new loft hatch, the battens fixed to the party wall will
carry the foil-backed plasterboard, used throughout.

Sid and Bernie of Stafford decided that they'd had enough of scrabbling precariously up a ladder only to be met by the sickly smell of mouldering cardboard boxes and fabrics. Could they convert their limited loft space into a clean, dry, well-aired storage space that wasn't a purgatory for all concerned? And would it meet their requirements to maintain or enhance the existing insulation properties of the loft? Thinsulex cladding

By no coincidence at all, the house had just been reroofed, by Fulwood Roofing of Stafford, so all the stuff in the loft had been removed. This always makes the space look bigger, and gives extra incentive to having the loft space upgraded. The Midland Loft Company, also based in Stafford, was chosen to do the loft conversion.

Heat-reflecting Thinsulex insulation fixed to the undersides of the rafters

The initial step was to remove the existing boarding and install a new suspended floor. Then a partition wall was constructed between the purlins and floor, dividing the main loft area from the eaves. This created a storage area behind the partition, which was insulated and boarded over. Battens were fixed to the party wall to enable this to be insulated. An integral loft hatch and folding ladder was fitted to make access reasonably civilised.

glass fibreFullwood Roofing had fixed a weatherproof breathable membrane on top of the rafters beneath the tiles, and also installed a Velux rooflight. To insulate the roof while preserving the interior space, Midland Loft Co fixed Thinsulex reflective insulation to the underside of the rafters. This comes in rolls and consists of glass wool sandwiched between heat-reflecting silvery foil.

Glass wool was used to line the party wall and to pack behind the partition wall.

Battens were then fixed to the rafters, to carry foil-backed plasterboard. The same plasterboard was also used to line the partition walls and party wall. Finally, the doors were fixed to gain access to the storage space, and skirting board and moulding was fitted. All that remained was the plastering, electrical wiring, and installation of a small radiator to keep the space aired.

finished job

"A very nice job, expertly done" was Sid and Bernie's verdict. "Midland Loft Co. certainly know about lofts, and get things done on time and to budget. Now all we've got to do is sort the stuff out and put it back (but not the old telly?!)."

The finished job: the cupboard doors allow access
to storage space in the eaves.

Main contractors's details

Midland Loft Company: 26A Widecombe Avenue, Weeping Cross, Stafford, ST17 0HX. Tel. (01785) 665028.

Fulwood Roofing Services Ltd: Sandyford Street, Stafford, ST16 3NF. Tel. (01785) 253963.