Every home needs adequate storage space. Whether it’s the remains of holiday decorations, children’s toys that are out of use, unnecessary furniture and much more. An attic is a great option when adding storage space.
Therefore, we have gathered in this article tips on how to make a truss attic suitable for storage. Hope, you implement your ideas from a few hanging shelves to a shelving system.
Inspection of the Truss System
To begin with, be sure to evaluate the condition of the truss system and the house as a whole. An attic without insulation, vapor barrier and new walls is much easier than a normal attic.
If the structure is weak, it will have to be reinforced with additional beams.
Is a truss attic suitable for storage?
The truss attic is so called because of the rafters, that is, a large wooden structure whose purpose is to support the roof and walls of the attic.
The wooden beams take up quite a lot of space and can extend all the way to the floor.
Therefore, the question arises, is it possible to store something there at all? Yes, it’s possible. It just takes a little effort and planning, and you also need to arm yourself with the advice of a professional to ensure there is no damage.
You need to do some preparation first if you are aiming to create storage space on the attic floor.
Inspect the attic and truss for any damage
An attic leak is sometimes not entirely obvious, but on inspection you may find extensive moisture damage. Make sure everything is in order, moisture soaked truss beams can become much weaker in terms of roof support.
If there is a leak, fix it first before using the attic for storage. The additional weight can make things worse and compromise the ability of the truss to maintain the home’s structural integrity.
Firstly, strengthen the truss, add new support beams, trusses, or even replace the entire system.
Lack of flooring
There are a couple of things to consider before installing a new floor. The strength of the support beams and the presence of insulation in the attic. Roof trusses needed to support the roof.
Your best bet is to hire an expert to inspect your attic and advise you throughout your project. Such a specialist will be able to calculate how much weight the attic truss, including attic flooring, can withstand. If the attic trusses are not able to withstand such a weight, the attic structures can alter dramatically.
Take into account attic insulation. For example, if you install flooring, there is a risk of pushing the insulation. Pressed insulation will be less effective in terms of temperature control.
Condition of the attic space
Do not forget about the temperature of the attic and the level of humidity. These criteria determine whether the attic can ultimately be used as additional storage space.
High humidity can cause damage to the items you store, especially if you don’t notice it right away. An attic with high humidity is not suitable for storing valuables. High temperatures will also not have the best effect on the state of things.
By checking the temperature and humidity right away, you will save yourself a lot of time and money in the future. If the conditions are not suitable, you will have to move the storage of things to another place or completely redo the attic.
What will you need
The size of the attic will play a key role in the amount of lumber you will need to create the attic storage space.
- Support boards 2×2
- Tape measure
- A circular saw
Some Steps to Make before Reconstructing Your Truss Attic into Storage Space
Step 1: Measure your attic
This is the only way you will know how much plywood and layers of wood are needed. Measure from the piles to the end of the desired storage space.
Don’t forget about vertical spacing when creating your shelf space. Therefore, fix all proportions from floor to ceiling.
Step 2: Mark Distances
Mark the distances between the rafters on the layers of 2×4s. And cut accordingly with a circular saw. Repeat this step until you have enough prepared pieces.
Step 3: Screw the layers into the required place
Attics are usually small, so it’s best to use a drill instead of a hammer. Stock up on screws of the right size and a drill.
Replace the insulation layer with one of the 2×4 boards. Fasten with screws at the corners. Do this from top to bottom in relation to the rafters. These support boards are easy to install. Do not fully insert the screws and then use this board as a template for further support boards.
Step 4: Add more support
Attach pieces 2×2 to the rafters in front of you. This step requires you to know exactly how much shelving space you need.
If you want shelves that are 18 inches wide, screw 2×19 onto the rafters. Then add another board to the pile. Then install two more boards on each side of the rafter to complete this step.
This step is of course up to you, but if you want to store something heavy, it is necessary. When the boards are installed, they will resemble a rectangular base.
Step 5: Measure and screw the timber boards
Measure the plywood for the shelving floor. Then screw the two-inch screws into the newly-made base. Repeat this step until you get the desired number of storage spaces.
Step 6: Add Items
Do not overload your new shelves. Also place the weight evenly across the attic, truss attics cannot carry too much weight, especially if it is put unevenly. Heavy items are best placed in the middle of the shelving unit.
If you plan to place something heavy on the rack, you cannot do without a support in the middle of the shelves. This support should be located between all the shelves and transfer the force to the floor.
It is relatively easy to work with wood, the material is natural, the service life is quite long, especially if there is pre-treatment.
Other Ways to Turn a Truss Attic into Storage Space
Add shelves between beams
The fastest and best way to turn an attic into a storage closet is to add shelves. The distance between the rafters is often large enough for shelves.
Shelves can be made of lumber by yourself or bought ready-made. The advantage of ready-made shelves is that they are sold with the right parts for installation. You can use screws to install your own shelves.
Install attic flooring
After checking with an expert, you can proceed with your alterations and add flooring.
You can again make the boards yourself or buy ready-made wooden or plastic decking panels.
Buying ready-made panels will save you a lot of time and effort, and in some cases they are even sold with extra supports to avoid compression of the insulating components. And in general, ready-made new floor panels are easier to work with.
Set up a storage platform
A platform can be added when creating storage space. The storage platform must be attached directly to the trusses.
Using the storage platform will be fraught with space restrictions. Such a platform will be suitable for storing only a few objects.
Is it possible to store things directly on the rafters?
The underside of the rafters is not designed to store weight.
Typical rafters will support the weight of the roof and gypsum ceiling and insulation.
It is better not to put anything on the rafters, only if these are not special rafters designed for extra weight.
To gain additional storage space, attic rafters can be replaced with horizontal beams or A-shaped rafters. By replacing ordinary rafters with steel trusses along the entire length of the floor and attaching supporting beams, much more functional attic storage space can be created.
How much weight can the rafters withstand
Usually the amount of weight that rafters can support is limited to somewhere around forty pounds per square foot of framing area. This is explained in this Structures Video Roof Loads by Portland Community College:
DIY Storage Shelves
The following is the easiest and most economical way to make hanging shelves in a small pantry. The amount of material for the shelves depends on the size of the room.
Tools and materials
To make shelves in the attic with your own hands, you will need:
- Plywood, chipboard, boards or remnants of old furniture.
- Self-tapping screws for fastening.
- Thin nails.
- A hammer.
- Jigsaw or hacksaw.
Saw the bars and plywood in accordance with the area of the attic. If desired, they can be painted or varnished. For the frame of one shelf, you will need 1 long and 2 short bars, for the base – a plywood sheet or boards of the required size and thickness. We make markings on the walls and securely fasten the bars.
- Fixing bars
- Sidewall fixation
- Make the markup for the next shelf
- Mount the shelf to the trusses
- Shelf installation
- Infix it with nails.
Extra Space for Living
Insulation of the attic in a frame house, as well as its redevelopment for living space, is one of the less costly measures to acquire additional living space. Here you can arrange a relax-room, or children’s bedroom, billiard room, or break this place into several rooms.
It is better to plan the attic even before you build up the house. It is more expedient to spend a little more at the construction stage in the phase of insulation, heating, electricity, water supply, than to suffer later with additional costs for finishing.
But usually builders leave this matter after construction for the future, in a hurry to save money in the present.
The importance of isolation
Alteration of the premises under the roof does not insist on the performance of some work from the outside. All actions take place inside the space under the roof, which is insulated and rebuilt into a more respectable room.
Some of the work you can do on your own. The main thing is not to forget about high-quality ventilation.
Having completely insulated the floor of the attic, do not forget to insulate all the water tanks and pipelines there, which will now be in danger of freezing. For this reason, do not install insulation under water tanks.
To make a living space out of non-residential attic, you must:
- repair flooring;
- insulate roof slopes inside;
- to finish the place for future residence;
- stretch lighting, heating, sewerage;
- set a comfortable rise to the top;
- install skylights and recessed lights.
Remodeling a cold attic involves more work with resurfacing than when building an attic framing. You have to think in advance how to properly ventilate it; in order to insulate the roof well, it will be necessary to make a small dismantling to carry out a high-quality hydro-barrier. Without dismantling, the quality of the waterproofing of the attic may then suffer.
Things to Keep in Mind When Deconstructing Your Attic
Check the integrity of the roof.
Maintain humidity and temperature. Infrequent use of the attic can lead to the fact that you will not immediately notice a leak. Or the wood won’t be strong enough to support the extra weight.
Assess the quality of the floor, trusses and supporting rafters.
Attics are prone to significant temperature changes in winter and summer and usually contain high humidity which makes them unsuitable for storing valuables.
Ventilation of the attic
Before introducing anything new elements to create additional space, figure out how much heat or cold will enter your attic from the outside. New floor boards require silicone and foam underlayment.
The safety of an attic is not guaranteed without proper ventilation. Combining air vents and extractor fans with insulation can help reduce humidity and temperature influences. Mechanical ventilation draws in new air and expels stale, moist air.
The fan automatically starts when the temperature rises. Just make sure it has sensors to shut it down in case of sudden temperature drops. Otherwise, oxygenated air may increase the risk of spontaneous combustion. The detailed manual what are the attic fan pros and cons will answer your additional questions.
The issue of insulation
It is best to insulate a cold attic space with mineral wool—a fairly simple and economical way. It is laid between the beams, and in order to avoid getting wet, it is covered with a vapor barrier film, which is also attached from above.
This design leaves a passage for adequate ventilation. The same thing happens with the insulation of the slopes of the top, but judging by the experience of builders, it is necessary to apply two layers of insulation and a moisture-resistant insulator here.
Installing floors in the attic
Some people even manage to live in their attic spaces, so making storage out of an attic is not something out of fantasy.
Before you decide to add flooring, ask an expert how to do it in the easiest and most affordable way. The floor will increase the potential free space.
You can also make your own wood boards for the floor, although they may not be suitable for holding heavy furniture, because ordinary rafters will not support such weight.
Adding new rafters and replacing existing ones with more resistant ones will require prior consultation with a person with an engineering background. Because if you use the wrong rafters and install them in the wrong direction it can lead to wasting space.
The expert will tell you and describe how to modify the rafters without losing their ability to support the weight of the roof and additional elements that you are going to embed.
Damage to the rafters will end up costing you much more than hiring a professional to do it right.
In order to evenly distribute the weight of the roof load on the outer walls and up to the foundation, there are two types of framing.
Conventional and truss type of framing
Prefabricated trusses are used in attic truss framing. The rafters are 2×4 pieces of wood connected to each other. They are placed above wall framing.
The attic rafters must not be removed as this would compromise the structural integrity of the attic.
Prefabricated rafters will mean that your attic is not designed for storage.
Roof trusses distribute the weight of the roof structure (and snow, wind, rain, etc.) to the load-bearing exterior walls. The “chords” are a set of interconnected 2”x4” wood frame components.
Placing the storage platform
The attic insulation is also thicker than the bottom 24 chord of the truss because it is on top of the drywall. Putting flooring and storage atop fiberglass insulation compresses it, pushing out trapped air and rendering it unusable.
However, by attaching supporting beams to the sidewalls of the trusses, you may establish a storage platform above the insulation. Using a prefabricated attic floor kit to raise the attic floor above the insulation is even easier.
How do I turn my attic into a storage area?
- Put some wiring in the attic for electricity if needed.
- Your floor panels require underlayment to make it suitable to add storage space.
- Insulate and ventilate your truss attic well.
- Install drywall ceiling.
- Consider adding flooring.
Can you put shelves on roof trusses?
Trusses are usually built with a safety factor. They can often carry a lot of weight, including the weight of a drywall ceiling. The deflection is typically minimal so that the drywall does not crack.
It is best to make shelves supported by the floor, but if you do not overload them, the roof structure and attic should not suffer.
This is the best place to store your camping gear.
Make sure the shelves are set perpendicular to the trusses and that they are definitely rafters and not ceiling joists.
How do I know if I can use my attic for storage?
Check your roof’s quality
Your roof does not contain breakages and leaks. First of all, you need to protect the things that you are going to store from all sorts of potential damage. Humid attic can ruin things irrevocably.
Inspect the floorboards
The floor of the attic is structurally sound. Check the stability and structural integrity of the floor boards to see if they can support the extra storage weight and make sure to not over-load bearing exterior walls.
Climate control is available
The attic has climate control. You need to make sure that your attic can maintain approximately the same temperature at all times of the year. Too cold or too hot weather will damage things, so take care of ventilation and thermal insulation.
The attic access is ready
You must have access to the attic. When using the attic as storage, you should have easy access to it on foot. Most attics have only one narrow entrance, so transporting and taking things out can be problematic. If you have a ladder, increase safety by installing a safety rail on the exterior walls of the attic. Find How to build an attic access door in our dedicated post.
Can I put storage in my attic?
An attic can easily be turned into makeshift storage, but most attic spaces are not suitable for storing heavy items like furniture or temperature-sensitive items like documents and electronics. To store the above, you will have to remodel the attic, strengthen it and install insulation, all under the supervision of an expert to build sturdy storage space.
Any homeowner can attest that additional storage space saves a lot of worries, especially if you don’t have a closet or basement.
Adding storage space between the attic trusses is a great solution for creating storage space.
But remember that any structural alterations carry some risks, so you need to carefully plan everything and work with professionals.
If you were questioning how to make your attic suitable for storage, we answered it in this article. You can easily create storage space out of your truss attic by following our recommendations.
Done right, you can enjoy your newfound bonus storage space!