/ Building a home training wall in my loft?

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ti_pin_man - on 28 Nov 2012
After some effort I managed to remove the old huge water tank from my loft to clear out some storage space and the intension was to put down some boards (chipboard) to add storage space BUT... I've cleared it there looks a whole lot more space than I'd thought and my mind has started asking what might be involved to build a climbing wall up there for training.

The space is 6 foot high in the middle of the roof and then drops about 45 degree slope. Its quite wide and a small 45 degree circuit board would fit in, I just need to figure out if the hassle of preparing the space is worth doing.

The loft is a pretty standard loft but does anybody know what I'd need to do to the ceiling currently in there and could i simply attach the wall to the roof joists?

I guess I cant and would need to put in a proper floor somehow in case I fell off!

Any ideas?
neil9216 - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man:
Hi, I, a joiner, In theory its a straight forward task.
Each loft is different though and without seeing yours I can only offer general advice,
Firstly you will need to use chipboard or floor boards,(chipboard would be my suggestion) to floor the loft space. the last thing you want is to come crashing through your ceiling.
as for the wall itself you are best to use 18mm WBP (30-40 quid per sheet)
and you can fix this directly to the underside of your roof rafters, just make sure you put plenty of screws in it,

I,m not sure what you mean by ceiling currently in there, is the loft already converted.

I hope this helps, I could go into more detail if you would like,
just private mail me.
GeoffRadcliffe - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man: I know someone who successfully put a climbing wall into their loft by fastening it to the rafters. The floor was fairly substantial and covered by an old mattress. As previously suggested, ensure that you have a substantial floor that you could jump on to.
ti_pin_man - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to neil9216:

Yeah thats about what I was thinking. Great minds. I was worried about the ceiling and by that I mean falling onto the floor of the loft, its part boarded currently and it'd be easy to put down more boarding but I dont want to just do that if really i need a proper floor in there. It had a super heavy water tank up there without issue but I wanted to be sure. I have some pics on flikr I'll see if I can figure out how to link them here.

Help much appreciated from you both.
ti_pin_man - on 28 Nov 2012
Nick Harvey - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man: I have just built a wall - in my outhouse so structurally I am no use to you advice-wise, but it may give you an idea of size and angles to determine how worthwhile it is - the main face of mine is eight feet by eight feet and at about 39 degrees I think. A few posts ago i did a photo dump of building it:

I have used some chipboard for the shelves and its quite saggy - thinner than what you'd use on a floor I am sure, but I wouldn't want to land on it so maybe consider OSB. I guess if matted, that spreads the load though.

Incidentally, I planned on getting some matting 'at some point' but quickly got a mattress off Freecycle. It would have been pretty unuseable without.
Nick Harvey - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man: How you going to get round the big cross beam sticking out in the middle? Short of building the whole thing out from the main joists - which is perfectly feasible, just build a frame that attached to the main joists, but makes it a lot more complicated than just screwing on some ply.
ti_pin_man - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to Nick Harvey: good effort and thats sort of what i was thinking i'd end up with only in my loft. I think structure wise the roof joists can take the weight no problem, just concerned about the floor! You cant be far from me if you stole padding from white spider!
ti_pin_man - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to Nick Harvey: yeah that middle beam does look a bit tricky, I had an idea of putting a shelf on it and padding it heavily and practicing overhangs through it and onto the back section... lol, well maybe not...
Nick Harvey - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man: It was a bit of a drive - i am NE London, so alas won't actually get to climb there. Looked a good place though.

If you think the joists will support it, my methon of one single bolt to attached the 6x2s worked really well as it meant it could pivot ever so slightly around that point meaning it could cope better with my inaccurate calculations. I guess also then, some of the weight would be tranfered to the floor so taking a bit off the joists which would be a bonus.
winhill - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man:

I went up in my loft to look at this in the summer, similar warm deck to yourself and it was so hot in the loft I was dripping sweat in 2 minutes.

So I put it off to think about insulation.
Murd on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man:
Heres what I did....Just about all the info you might need. Send my a mail if you think I could help you further
jwa - on 28 Nov 2012
In reply to Nick Harvey:
That is an awesome outhouse! I was thinking of building something in my shed but then I filled it up with stuff.
neil9216 - on 29 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man:
I might be wrong but to me, it seems that the beam I can partly see in your photo has a partner,
a,m I right in thinking there used to be a tank of some sort sitting there.
If so then its not structural and you can remove it,
if it was structural you would have one on every rafter.

also the floor looks already covered, what is it covered with?

A suggestion would be around head height or just above install a row of beams similar to one already there then screw WBP to the underside making a roof
then use the angle of your existing rafters in the same way, making a kind of tunnel effect, then you can get some serious training in,
hope this helps.
any further questions just ask

ti_pin_man - on 29 Nov 2012
In reply to neil9216:

Hmmm really? Yes the tank was removed last weekend but I'm not sure if its structural, if not, removing it would create a load more space, I have a builder coming around to fit some doors soon so will drag him to the loft for his view. I think, from memory, theres another on the other side of the loft hatch, so its probably structural.

The boards are a handful of chipboard loft boards, they dont go far, just around the hatch covedring the insulation. My next job was to board out the rest of the floor but before I did that I want to see if thats sufficient to spread the load when I fall off my board and yes, I will have my boulder mats down and might even look into some other padding/mattresses. If it doesnt look sufficient then i have the hassle of putting down some sort of floor.
neil9216 - on 29 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man:
It doesn,t sound to me like its structural, as I mentioned if so there would be one on every rafter not just a couple either side.
However that being said without acctualay seeing it I cannot be certain.
but good idea to get the builder up he,ll tell you in seconds what the deal is.

As for the floor the general rule of thumb is anything with a 400mm span and 18mm chipboard would suffice if its 600 then ideally you would want 22mm.
but you will know just by standing on it.
have a little hop dead make sure your ase in the center of the joists and if there is any flex then you need thicker chipbard.
same again tho, if you have a builder coming round he,ll keep you right.

GeoffRadcliffe - on 29 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man: The rafters in the roof are meant to support several tons of concrete tiles plus a heavy dump of snow. A few plywood boards and a 12 stone climber shouldn't make a great deal of difference. There is no reason why you shouldn't be able to attach boards to the rafters.

The purlins in the photo will test your design skills.

However, you will need to check that the floor is strong enough to survive an impact. Ideally you should check the size of the floor joists to ensure that they are strong enough given their length (the building regs have lookup tables for this). However, it is unlikely that they would not be up to the job. As pointed out, ensure the floor is boarded out with thick enough board that doesn't flex when you jump up and down on it.
ti_pin_man - on 29 Nov 2012
In reply to GeoffRadcliffe: Geoff, youre absolutely bang on, I'm more worried about the floor than the beams! My missus wouldnt be pleased if I crashed through, or cracked, the ceiling of the rooms below!! ;)
mattrm - on 29 Nov 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man:

It sounds like you've got a fairly good handle on it. Going for 22mm flooring seems sensible. You should also think about insulation. It'll get very hot/cold up there otherwise. Cold isn't a problem, but in the summer it could be pretty horrible.

My loft is fairly big (two spaces about 5m x 5m, making an L shape) and this is making me think I could fit a wall up as well. There's more than enough space for tat storage so I'm quite sure I could get a few holds up. I'm already planning on trying to seal it all up and paint it nicely so that it's a nice enough space to use as a 'man cave'. There's enough space for a small desk as well.

Currently I'm planning on putting extra joists at 90 degrees to the existing joists, so that I can fit extra insulation down. It looks like the current ceiling joists are 2x4s. The house is Victorian (well 1904) so does that sound about right? They do seem quite weedy from that point of view. Had assumed they'd be thicker. I was planning on going with 18mm chipboard, but it seems like 22mm will be more solid. I'm not sure how spaced out the old joists are, but I can put the new ones down however I want.
browndog33 - on 29 Nov 2012
In reply to neil9216: With respect mate you seem to be giving some not very good advice on this subject IMO. IMO if he falls repeatedly on the floor you suggest there is a good chance he'll at least crack the skim on the ceiling below. (Mark, Ex-Loft conversion company owner.)
ti_pin_man - on 29 Nov 2012
In reply to browndog33:

my loft floor is pretty good, seems pretty solid and partly boarded out near the loft hatch BUT I am concerned about falling and eventually cracking the ceiling in some way. I will have padding down and boards to spread load BUT I'd seriously have my balls to the wall if I cracked a ceiling... so I was considering if I need to put another floor on top that sits on supporting walls or something. I will be checking this with the builder, its a guy I know well but if you see the picture above you can see whats there and give me a view? I'd appreciate it and of course, never hold you to it! lol.
Murd on 29 Nov 2012
In reply to mattrm:
My loft rafters were the same 2" x 4" (house about the same age). What I did was fix the climbing surface's (OSB in my case) horizontally so that the load was spread over several joists not just say 3 if I had screwed them on vertically, try to keep the boards as long as possible by cutting the boards along the length, also this meant that they were just big enough to fit through the loft hatch. Have a look at the pictures in my post above, might make more sense.
I have had no problem with the ceiling below cracking after a couple of years with regular heavy falls.
neil9216 - on 30 Nov 2012
In reply to browndog33:
Fair shout but thats why you use padding when you build a training wall.
and as I mentioned without seeing the loft can only give general advice,
I Suggested using 22 mm chipboard, what would you suggest.
I have converted plenty lofts also and every one we used 22 chipboard.

needvert on 30 Nov 2012 -
In reply to ti_pin_man:

How big was the water tank?

Obviously any loading will cause flex in the members involved, if he had a huge water tank in there that emptying and filling of, and didn't crack the ceiling that's a vote of confidence.

I think it would be awesome to instrument your ceiling measuring strain, but that's probably a bit too nerdy.

Perhaps your partner would be willing to overlook a few cracks in the celling if you convince her you'll become ripped with huge biceps, an 8 pack, and fingers that never die.
ti_pin_man - on 30 Nov 2012
In reply to needvert:

The water tank was a heavy lead or steel thing. I had to angle grind it in half to get it down the loft ladder and I'm glad at that point it was in two bits. They both were extremely heavy and I even ended up with a rope pulley system to lower these! Based on that, the floor must be pretty substantial , it had a mini wooden platform under it to spread the load but was just on one of the part boarded sections when I first went up. The platform was on the other side being used as a floor section!
mattrm - on 30 Nov 2012
In reply to Murd:

Yeah, I'd be putting them on at 90 degrees, obviously. I'm definitly going for the 22mm board now tho.
ti_pin_man - on 05 Dec 2012
I've been up and done some measurements. The roof joists are 1.75 x 4's and the floor joists are 2 x 4's. Square footage is about 45 square metres. Builder is here on Saturday so I'll ask him about the other timbers that I'm not sure are structural and might be removable.
MaxWilliam on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man:

The problem is the floor joists at 100mm x 50mm are not designed to support any significant weight as no doubt the span is greater than about 2m and probably more like 4m or 5m. Simply they will bend (they are unlikely to snap). For a 4m or 5m span you need approx 200mm or 225mm deep joist. Without a doubt your ceilings will crack when you move about in the loft space unless you have suitable joists for the span. Once cracked ceilings are very difficult to repair permanently.

You can look up joist dimensions and spans on the net. The longer the span between walls supporting the joists, the deeper the joist needs to be to resist bending.

The solution is too run deeper joists alongside (parallel) to the existing ones, as you would do for a loft conversion, then put either 18mm or 22mm boarding on top (400mm or 600mm joist spacings respectively). This is no easy job due to the weight of the timber joists and probably the need to remove some roof tiles to get the longer joists into the loft. (Unlikely you will get a 4 or 5m long joist through the hatch!

Running joists over the top at 90 degrees is next to pointless and does not solve the issue, in fact makes it worse due to the increased dead-load.

Perlins and lateral cross members should not be removed. (unless consulting a structural engineer.)
MaxWilliam on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to ti_pin_man:

Span tables... hope this helps explain. bsw_timber_c16_span_leaflet_a4_4pp240810.pdf
browndog33 - on 05 Dec 2012
In reply to MaxWilliam: +1.

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