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The Loft

January 13th 2022, Our House, Derby

Our loft is a mess. Despite numerous attempts to clear it out and tidy it up it never seems to be anything other than messy. I’ll freely put my hand up and admit I am the main reason the loft is the way it is.

Looking back across our loft

Our problems started years ago when I decided to floorboard it to give us additional storage if we needed it. Though I didn’t board it out entirely I did floor approx 80% of it.

Wardrobes containing fancy dress and dancing costumes
Shelving built around the water tanks
Shelving holding more clutter

At 5m wide and 8m long there’s approx 32m² of space to dump crap and that’s ignoring the extra shelving and brackets I’ve added over the years.

Loft clutter

That’s not to say the loft hasn’t seen if fair share of success. Over the years its featured heavily in some of the upgrades made to our house and, in my opinion, the best of all these is our home LAN.

Rack, patch panel and original network switch being installed back in 2010
Home LAN set up as it is now

Now 12 years old the original design of Cat5e wiring, rack mounted patch panel and network switch is still going strong. Yes most of the devices attached to it have been upgraded or replaced in that time but it consistently proves itself to be both reliable and more importantly useful.

Time to sort it once and for all

Having had numerous failed attempts to sort it out I’ve decided 2022 is the year it gets sorted once and for all. Though in typical fashion I’m not just going to tiding it up I’m going to make some other improvements as I go.

Our Home LAN

I will be making two improvements to our home LAN. Firstly I will replace the plastic waste pipe used as trunking with proper open framed cable trays.

Installing the original trunking
Original trunking in use

The main reason for this upgrade is to increase capacity. In those 12 years I’ve routed more and more wires through it. I’m now at the point where I can’t get any more in.

Cable tray

Switching to open faced cable trays will make it easier to manage the cable and give me more space if I need it which will be handy as I’m going to upgrade all the CAT5e cable runs with CAT6. Though both can handle speeds of up to a Gigabit CAT6 can manage more data. It’s like the difference between a 2 and a 4 lane motorway, both have the same max speed but the 4 lane motorway can handle more traffic.

Preparing the original CAT5E cable runs for the living room

CAT6 cables are thicker than the 5E ones currently installed and I will be running more to various rooms in the house. I’ll increase the number of ports in what was is now my office as well as adding some network ports in to our bedroom, which never did get done during the original install.

Insulation

Back in 1999 when our house was built the insulation standards were quite different to today. When complete our fully insulated loft had just 8cm of insulation.

You can see how little insulation the house originally had

This was something I tried to improve over the years. I did cover the existing insulation with 50mm thick foam boards. They rested on the rafters the current insulation came up to and were designed to have loft flooring fitted directly on top of them.

Foam loft boards

That insulation claimed to be worth double its own depth when compared to the normal Rockwool insulation. In theory that gave approx 180mm worth of insulation but still a way short of the 250mm currently recommended.

Loft legs raise the flooring so you can add extra insulation

I will take up the existing floor and remove the foam insulation boarding so I can install loft legs to raise the floor height by 175mm. That gives me a gap of 255mm for insulation. Topping up my existing 80mm of insulation with leave me with just over the 250mm currently recommended.

Raising the floor will no doubt require some modification or replacement of the existing floor boards. To save having to buy new ones the raised floor won’t cover the same footprint it does now. Instead it will cover approx 2/3rds of the loft or around 26m². This frees up some loft boards for me to reuse if needed. Where there isn’t any flooring the loft insulation will also be increased to ensure an even 250mm coverage.

Tidy Up

I can’t raise the floor if it’s got stuff on it. I can see me having to move things around several times to free up enough space to work in. Once the entire floor is raised I’ll tackle the much needed final tidy up.

Loft clutter
Loft clutter

I’m hoping during all that moving things backwards and forwards I’ll have identified those things we want to keep and got rid of all the stuff we don’t. That final tidy up should just be for those things we are keeping. This is especially important as the raised floor will have less space to store things on.

Loft clutter

So that’s the plan for 2022. Upgrade the LAN cabling, raise the loft floor, increase the insulation and only have items we want to keep stored tidily in the loft.