We come across a lot of older weaker ceilings or ceilings with smaller joists than normal. We advise not to just board direct to the joists or batten and board directly to the joists because the ceiling joists are too weak to allow the additional boarding & storage weight (load).
Mainly older terraced and detached houses pre WW2 and after WW2 when we started building again we had a short supply of materials so houses were built to a very minimal specification.
Although your ceiling joists are adequate (in most cases) to support your ceiling only, they were never designed to take any extra weight on them, so they must be strengthened or built above correctly to allow boarding, storage items and you to walk about safely and by adding more support this will prevent major expensive repairs in the future.
You’d be surprised how much stuff we put in our lofts over the years and it accumulates to the point where you are over loading the ceiling. Time to get a proper storage supporting floor installed before you damage the ceilings for good.
You can get a load calculation done for your loft storage requirements before you have loft boarding installed, but this is not required and can be quite costly. We do however, highly recommend extra strengthening and it would be silly to ignore as anyone can see, adding more weight to a ceiling without support can and will damage a ceiling beyond repair. Get a LBNW solid timber supported sub-frame, and feel confident that your ceilings will never be overloaded and is ideal for older Victorian/Edwardian properties.
Loft safety is very important, accidents can happen and helping prevent them especially in lofts is very important. The most common accidents in lofts are falling through the ceiling and falling down the loft hatch opening.
In both cases we can help prevent this from happening, by installing good quality strong flooring in the areas you want to access and install a rail or balustrade around the opening of the hatch, to stop anyone from walking backwards or stumbling toward the loft hatch. It’s a long way down and could be quite nasty, so it’s worth considering installing a safety balustrade or railing.