Do I have to use Steel Beams for a Loft Conversion?


When Considering an attic conversion do I have to use steel beams or not?



Hello Des

I presume you mean do I have to use 'steel beams' instead of 'timber beams' right? - If indeed beams are required at all? You do not mention what stage of design your project is at, but hopefully you have, or will have a qualified design professional on board.

Steel is an inherently stronger material than timber, and so is able to span greater distances - i.e. the length of the beam can be longer between supports - whilst carrying the same load.

The installation of any supporting beams within a loft, or attic conversion is generally reliant upon the availability of existing load bearing walls to provide end, or intermediate support to any beams that may be required to support either a new floor structure, or roof alterations. Every single property, and project is different, and the determination of whether to use timber or steel beams will rely on two issues: The first being the maximum unsupported span available for each beam, and the second being the load you are asking the beam to support.

Most beams, timber, or steel, can be tricky to install. Steel has the added advantage of being able to be broken down into smaller lengths to bring into the space, then bolt them together using splice plates to make up the required beam length in situ. This does have premium costs attached, but none the less provides a degree of flexibility that timber does not when space is tight.

I would reiterate though, that you should always involve professional design consultants. A Chartered Architectural Technologist will be able to assess the support requirements during a survey, but it will generally require a structural engineer to calculate the most efficient beam solution for your particular project.

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