DIY Ceiling Hatch Project - How to Make a Loft Hatch Bigger

Summary: In this DIY ceiling hatch project we explain how to make your loft hatch bigger, including strengthening timbers when enlarging or installing a loft hatch. Find out all you need to know about enlarging a loft hatch in our easy to follow guide.

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Please note that if you plan to make your loft into any kind of living accommodation you must first get building regulation approval. There are many regulations governing the conversion of lofts. See our related projects on the left for more information.

There are a great many ready made loft hatches available on the market today so it's well worth checking these out before you start as a pre-made solution could be the best way to go. Also consider an insulated loft hatch.

First check that the enlargement you would like does not involve cutting through any main supporting beams or timber lintels, which may protrude into the loft space. If in any doubt, seek the advice from a professional.

Using the diagram below, follow these steps.

Enlarging a Loft Hatch

Enlarging a Loft Hatch

  • Measure and mark the size of your new opening, plus 4 inches either side, on top of the existing ceiling joists1 2 3 and 4 . These marks will be on lines A.
  • If your new hatch spans more than 2 joists (involving cutting more than two joists) contact a specialist and visit our loft conversion project for more information.
  • Place a 4-inch x 1-inch timber flat on the joists behind your lines. This is timber B. Screw this timber, using two and a half inch number 8 screws, into all positions marked by X. This is temporary support and can be removed later.
  • Checking for cables and pipes, cut the ceiling and the joists along lines A and D cutting through joists 2 and 3 leaving 1 and 4 intact but cutting alongside them to form the new opening.
  • The dotted lines represent two lengths of new timber, equal to the size of your existing joist, either side of the new opening. The two rear ones should be fixed first with 4-inch, number 8 screws in all positions marked C with two screws per joist. You will need to drill pilot holes for all of these screws. Then fix the front timbers, nailing them with 3-inch wire nails, in between the joists. Where the front timbers touch the side joists on lineD, they should also be screwed at position C.
  • You can then remove timbers B and line your new opening with 4 or 5 x 1 inch planed timber, into which your new loft hatch will sit. The cut underside of the opening can be covered by architrave.
Loft Hatch and Ladder

Loft Hatch and Ladder

Preferably a loft hatch would have a maintenance free finish which could just be wiped down. The finger marks on a hatch can be really unsightly but are quite hard to remove from an old painted surface. Look for a loft hatch that requires a quick wipe over and no painting!

As mentioned above, look for a hatch with insulation material fixed to the back (preferably fire resistant). 35mm of insulation is standard but 50mm is better. 105mm is the ideal amount of insulation to comply with part L of the building regulations.

Find a hatch that does not need an enormous frame reducing the size of the opening you are trying to enlarge!

If you are thinking of renting out your house or just have very adventurous children, look for a lockable hatch.

Look for a hatch with draught seals. Lofts can be draughty places!

Don't fancy doing this project yourself? We work with Checkatrade to ensure that we recommend only reliable and trustworthy tradesmen.

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