Summary: Learn how to make a loft hole, make a loft hatch and fit a new loft hatch.
A loft hatch is useful for easy access to the roof space. In modern houses this is fairly important so access to insulation and water tanks is possible. The hatch that already exists in your property probably only needs to be enlarged enough to fit a ladder or to allow ease of access for a grown person to fit into. In this case, the job of enlarging a loft hatch is quite simple.
Making a loft hole
To create a loft hole of sufficient size, you will need to extend the existing hole by cutting through any joists and plaster. This is where you will need to exercise caution. You must not cut through prefabricated roof trusses, as these have been designed to be structurally sound whilst using minimal material. This means that if you remove any part of it, the truss will not support the structure of the roof as it should and could cause a collapse.
A structural engineer should be consulted so he can assess the possible options available to you with regards to inserting a loft hatch before you attempt any work.
- If you do not have a light in your loft, you will need to set up a portable light.
- Pull back or remove any insulation that is in the way. Then start by removing the parts of the old hatch, such as the trim along the inside and the stops used for the access lid.
- Having measured the size of the new hatch, cut away the section of the trimmer (the wood that makes up the hatch) that needs to be extended and cut back the joists on which they were attached to. When cutting the joists, make sure it is a square finish so the new trimmer can be attached correctly.
- Cut the new trimmer to the required lengths and secure onto the joists, then screw the ceiling boards to the trimmer from below using plasterboard screws.
- Cut the excess ceiling board away until it is flush with the trimmer.
- Fit new trim around the inside of the enlarged hatch.
- Return any insulation that was removed or pulled back.
Making a loft hatch
A loft hatch is the lid or door-like contraption for the loft hole. The best way to install a hatch to fit on the loft hole that you have created is to construct it on ground level and fix it in place once built. This is much easier than building it in situ. The two main types of hatch are the hinged lid and the removable cover.
Removable cover loft hatch
- Start by measuring the loft hole you have built. Construct four pieces of timber (1 in x ½ in) which will be the inner frame for the lid to sit on.
- Make the architrave which will surround the edges of the loft hole. Mitre each corner in the normal architrave fashion and screw onto the box you have made.
- Now fix in position onto the loft hole.
Hinged lid loft hatch
- Create the timber inner frame on which the lid will sit. This is construct four pieces of timber (1 in x 1/2 in).
- Attach a hinge onto a lid that is cut to the correct size for the loft hole. Screw the hinge onto the trimmer inside the loft. The lid will be an upward swinging hatch.
- To make a downward swinging hatch, simply attach the correct hinge onto the timber inner frame and install two closing beads, which act as stoppers for the lid when it swings upwards and prevent draughts.
- Fix a latch of your desire for locking and unlocking the hatch at your will.