Table of contents:

Remove loft: how it works
Remove loft: how it works

Video: Remove loft: how it works

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Video: How a loft conversion works 2023, January
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A loft conversion solves space problems, but needs a well thought-out concept. This is how you go about practically removing the loft and gradually creating new living space.

Table of contents Table of contents Removing the attic: How to proceed

  • Planning is essential when it comes to roof expansion
  • Inventory of the attic
  • Measure the attic
  • Install or replace windows in the attic
  • Thermal insulation for the attic
  • Partitions and cladding in the attic
  • Electrical and water installations for loft conversions
  • Lay the floor in the attic

Table of contents Table of contents Removing the attic: How to proceed

  • Planning is essential when it comes to roof expansion
  • Inventory of the attic
  • Measure the attic
  • Install or replace windows in the attic
  • Thermal insulation for the attic
  • Partitions and cladding in the attic
  • Electrical and water installations for loft conversions
  • Lay the floor in the attic

After you have considered in advance whether you want to expand your loft for living or as an isolated storage space - and can do it from the height of the room - the planning begins. As the floor has to carry significantly more weight after removal and the rafters are also burdened by the cladding with building boards and insulation material, a static check is essential. Only an expert can do that - architect or structural engineer.

Planning is essential when it comes to roof expansion

You can make a sketch of the future room layout of the attic yourself. But when it comes to the concrete planning of electrical and heating elements, a specialist is required again. This can also help with the conditions to be observed and implemented in terms of state building regulations or fire protection so that the expansion is approved.

After the legal work has been done, a structural engineer has given the green light, the building permit has been obtained and, above all, you know who is to lay and connect the power and water pipes - because that is exclusively a matter for experts - you can start. With a roof pitch of 50 degrees, you can even expand it on two floors and plan a small loft at the appropriate height. When it comes to thermal insulation, you must adhere to the requirements of the Energy Saving Ordinance (EnEV).

During the removal, a lot of material comes together that you have to create in the attic. If previously only a space-saving staircase or pull-out ladder led to the floor space, replace the staircase first so that you can get materials comfortably upstairs. Protect the steps with cardboard and handrails with bubble wrap - after all, you don't want dents or scratches in the new stairs.

Many of the materials, such as plasterboard or rock wool, must not get wet. So you need a room as an intermediate storage. It is of course even better if you can get the work material "just in time" and then install it straight away. Of course, this requires good planning of the work processes. The loft conversion on your own is not just weekend work, but can be very time consuming. So also think of helpers and their time capacities.

Zugang zum Dachboden
Zugang zum Dachboden

Easy access to the attic is a prerequisite for the expansion.

Photo: iStock / irina88w

Inventory of the attic

Before you remove the attic, get an overview and assess its condition. Walls not only have to be dry and tight, but also as flat as possible. Plaster bare walls beforehand so that you can apply a vapor barrier film there to protect against the ingress of water vapor. Between the rafters and roof tiles, a breathable underlayment should run against moisture that might penetrate from the outside. If it is not open to diffusion, you must leave a distance between the insulation material and the underlay to the rear ventilation. Before removing disruptive beams or posts, be sure to check - or better have them checked - whether they are not load-bearing elements.

Measure the attic

Get to the yardstick! For larger distances and the height of the roof structure, however, laser rangefinders are unbeatably fast, convenient and, above all, safer than a measuring tape and ladder. Measure the roof areas for the necessary insulation materials as well as the rafter spacing, rafter depth and rafter width. You need these for the dimensions and thickness of the individual insulation sheets, which are mostly made of mineral wool and which you naturally do not want to divide. Attention: rafters do not necessarily have the same dimensions everywhere, so measure in several places. If the rafters are not deep enough, they have to be doubled up using appropriate beams so that the insulation material also fits into them.

If the floor becomes even higher than the current level due to planned leveling fillings, screed, insulation and new floor coverings, mark the so-called meter crack on the walls - i.e. a point on the wall, where at the end the room is one meter above the finished floor will be. This is important for the later connections.

Install or replace windows in the attic

Whether you are installing new windows or replacing existing ones because they are no longer up to date in terms of energy, it is best to do everything that has to do with windows first. Because you do not have to remove the insulation that has just been applied, a new floor is not damaged and you already have more light for the other work.

Small skylights that fit between two rafters can be built in yourself. For larger ones, however, usually one or two rafters have to be removed. A carpenter prefers to do that. If necessary, he can also install dormer windows that give the expanded space more standing space.

Replacing vertical windows works with manual skill and experience, a helper and the necessary caution. Here's how it works: Measure the old window inside and out, pry out the old window and the frame from the inside, install the new frame at the correct distance from the wall using wedges or assembly cushions and fix the frame in place. Finally, insulate and seal the frame and the window reveal.

Fertig ausgebauter Dachboden
Fertig ausgebauter Dachboden

Removing the attic and integrating large windows ensures brightness in the newly created living space.

Photo: iStock / KatarzynaBialasiewicz

Thermal insulation for the attic

If you remove the attic, you cannot avoid the insulation. Depending on the budget, different types of insulation are possible. The most effective, but also the most expensive, variant is rafter insulation, in which the material is placed between the rafters and roof covering - the entire roof must be covered for this. This is why intermediate rafter insulation is more common, in which mineral wool is pressed between the rafters. Attention: Keep the receipts for the mineral wool well - if you or your children have to dispose of glass wool in a few decades, their quality and protection class play a role.

For an intermediate rafter insulation, the rafters must be strong enough so that they also seal with the mineral wool and that nothing survives. If this is not the case, you have to reinforce the rafters, which, however, means that living space is lost, since the rafters protrude more into the room. Under rafters insulation is the simplest method: fairly thin, but high-performance insulation panels are placed under the rafters, which makes the interior smaller.

The actual work is not difficult, but you have to be careful because small mistakes can cause big problems. A leaky vapor barrier, for example, can ruin the entire loft and lead to mold. If the attic already has a suitable film as a vapor barrier, check it for cracks and damp spots, ideally after a long period of rain.

Vapor barrier

A PE vapor barrier film seals the attic to the living room so that moisture from it cannot penetrate into the insulation material as condensation. This is necessary because of the temperature difference between the interior and insulation - the insulation is getting colder. Since cold air can absorb less moisture, moisture from the interior condenses on the insulation and the roof beams into water. And that can cause mold. But the interior is dry? Just feel it, because the exhaled air alone is moist.

The vapor barrier around the window is particularly important, since there can be thermal bridges and condensed water can form in cooled areas. Since the foils are stapled and thus perforated, the sheets must overlap properly. At the stapled areas, glue the staples with adhesive tape so that everything is really tight. In the meantime, instead of PE vapor barrier films, breathable climate membranes are also used, which are attached to the rafters with Velcro strips.

You can attach a counter battens above the vapor barrier and then fill the gaps with another, thin under-rafter insulation. This increases the insulation performance, but also makes the room a little smaller.

Partitions and cladding in the attic

Subsequent walls are usually built as a drywall made of stable plasterboard when the attic is removed. Impregnated green panels are used for wet areas and gray panels for normal rooms, which are screwed onto a previously installed stand made of metal profiles using quick-assembly screws. On the back of these metal profiles you glue a sealing tape for sound insulation before screwing. The finished walls are a good ten centimeters thick with common U-profiles and plasterboard. You should take this into account when positioning the walls and the metal profiles screwed to the floor and walls.

When the metal frame is in place, screw plasterboard onto one side first, insulate the cavity in between and lay the lines. Or better - because now the specialist has to do it: have it installed and connected if there are sockets, heating pipes or plumbing. Then dress up the other side. As with wall construction, the following also applies here: no cross joints! Since you can still see the individual panels and they are separated from each other with furrows, fill in the gaps and then sand the wall smooth. This is a very fine dust matter and should be done with a face mask and with the window open.

The rafters are also clad with plasterboard, which is not screwed directly onto the vapor barrier film, but always onto a slatted substructure.

Electrical and water installations for loft conversions

Whether heating, water and everything that has to do with electricity - this is only for specialists. Not only when removing from the roof, but also in other projects. You can find partners for loft conversions here:

Lay the floor in the attic

Most of the time you close the loft with the floor and then furnish the room and paint or wallpaper the dry walls. Because if you build the floor at the end, it will not be damaged and is decoupled from the new walls - a soundproofing measure. Only if you are not quite sure from the start whether and where you want to move new walls, build the floor beforehand.

Compensate with dry fill, insulate and lay the covering - you can do this work on your own. The floor must of course be flat and stable, but also insulated. Otherwise you can hear pattering on the floor below. If the floor is even and even, a finished impact sound insulation from the roll is often sufficient, as is also used for click laminate or parquet.

Otherwise you have to decouple the flooring, i.e. install sound brakes. For example, you can lay dry screed, similar to click laminate - but the screed elements are glued. Is the original floor very uneven and do you have to compensate for larger height differences of more than ten centimeters? Then a bound bed of cement-bonded insulation particles between stable beams on the floor is also an option.

Thomas Hess

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