If you’re thinking of having a loft conversion in your home, or are already in the early stages of planning one, a decision you need to make early on is how to ensure that the area structurally sound.
This is because, in most cases, the space for a loft conversion does not have internal load bearing walls to support the new structure. Of course, if you’re investing your savings into creating a luxurious new area in your home, you want to know that it’s structurally sound.
That’s where beams come in. Once installed, they have the ability to bear the extra weight of the converted space, and are a necessity for all loft conversions. However, it’s not as simple as just inserting beams—you need to decide which type of beam you want to use, and the one which is suitable for your bespoke build.
Steel beams are the most popular choice for most loft conversions, however, they’re not the only option. Due to regulations, build size, style and budget, some choose to complete their loft conversion using an alternative material.
The beam type that is best for your specific conversion depends on numerous factors, but getting the right type for your build is critical to its safety and quality.
The best way to ensure structural stability and complete safety in your loft conversion is to contract the help of a professional loft conversion specialist. They will have all the skills and expertise needed to plan and carry out a successful, structurally sound loft conversion.
Here at Refresh Interiors, we’re loft conversion experts. In this blog post we discuss whether all loft conversions need steel beams. Read on to find out more.
The number one priority for every loft conversion is its structural integrity. If your planned conversion is not structurally sound, then it won’t meet building regulations. Because most internal walls are not strong enough to bear the load of a new living space, structural beams are usually necessary.
An experienced loft conversion specialist will be able to advise you on the best option for your home. Commonly, steel beams are the structural support of choice. This is because they tend to be stronger than the alternatives with more flex, making them suitable for spanning longer distances between two walls, making them ideal for both small and larger spaces.
Timber beams can also be used for structural support in loft conversions, however this wooden alternative is not as strong as its steel counterpart, and therefore is usually only suitable for smaller projects.
One of the main things a client planning a loft conversion will be keen to keep down is the cost. A loft conversion can be a worthwhile investment to the home, adding both living space and property value. However, this doesn’t come cheap—upwards of £20,000, in fact.
As such, many look for areas where costs can be kept low. Because steel is a mass produced material, it’s actually more cost-effective than purchasing timber beams, making it a good option for those who want premium quality while sticking to a tighter budget.
What’s more, steel beams are proven to have greater longevity and less aftercare, meaning that, overall, they come out the better investment.
Durability is a big factor in deciding what beams to use in a loft conversion, for both the loft conversion planner and the client. How long your loft conversion beams last is determined by the level of aftercare, however both steel and timber beams are of suitable durability for any loft conversion.
With that said, there are a few things to consider:
Regardless of the potential risks to durability, suitable aftercare of either beam type will ensure longevity.
Installing large beams into small spaces can be problematic. A professional loft conversion company will have the appropriate knowledge to advise on the best structural support for your loft space, taking into account everything from practical logistics to the amount of disruption to your home.
Steel beams prove popular because they can be broken down into smaller sections and re-connected via splice plates in situ. Not only does this reduce disruption to your home, it also minimises the time taken for installation of the beams themselves.
The specially designed splice plates make reconnecting the beam sections easy once in the loft space, while ensuring that structural integrity and beams’ strength have not been compromised.
On the other hand, timber beams must be kept whole during the installation process. If they are cut down, they can’t be reassembled with the same level of weight bearing strength in the same way that steel can. As such, timber beams are usually only used when necessary, for instance, to stay in keeping with pre-existing style, or for small, easy-to-access projects.
Overall, steel beams are the most suitable, and in most cases, less problematic option for successful loft conversions.
If you would like to know more about loft conversions, or any other home improvement offered by Refresh Interiors, get in touch with a member of our dedicated team today!