Attic Remodelling Tips and Ideas

The idea behind attic remodeling project is for homeowners to take advantage of unused space to expand their living area. Homeowners with step roofs and attics in which they can stand up in without hitting their heads on the rafters will find an attic renovation idea appealing. The types of things that attics can be used for are only limited by the homeowner creativity and available space.

Home Inspection: Investigating Attic’s Suitability for Renovation

When making a decision to renovate an attic, there are several important steps that need to be accomplished before going forward with a design. Conducting a home inspection to determine if the ceiling joists and attic framing are structurally sound is essential. The last thing any homeowner wants is a newly completed attic remodeling project to come crashing through the ceiling onto the floor below.

If the home is structurally sound and enough headroom is available, then there are other points to consider.

  • Ceiling Joists – these are the wood frames that a homeowner stands on when in the attic and must be a minimum of 2 x 6 inches. If the ceiling joists are 2 x 4 inches, then the ceiling will not support the weight of an additional room in the attic without additional support.
  • Space for Renovation – with at least eight feet height above joists a general rule of thumb for having enough remodeling space is a roof pitch of 6/12 must have a 40-foot wide roof, for an 8/12 pitch the roof must be 32 feet wide, and a 10/12 pitch the roof must be 24 feet wide. Roof pitch is calculated by measuring angle and slope.
  • Electrical Service – an inspection must be conducted to determine if the existing electrical system is capable of handling an attic expansion. Consulting a certified and qualified electrician is recommended.
  • Access – if the current access point is only a fold-down stairway or ladder, then an appropriate area for a standard staircase must be located in the home.
  • Heating and Air Conditioning – even a well-insulated attic is warm in the summer and cold in the winter. An attic remodeling project must include heating and cooling for comfort.
  • Bathroom – a suitable location for a bathroom is one that is convenient to existing bathrooms on the floor below the attic. Additional structural strengthening may be necessary to support a bathtub, which is extremely heavy when full of water.

Design Tips: Points to Consider for Comfort

The following are a few tips for improving the safety and comfort of an attic remodeling project, along with home improvement tips for homeowners.

  • Safety Considerations – most building codes generally call for walls to be at least seven and a half feet high. Most fire codes require a window to be used as an emergency exit
  • Skylights – installing skylights or if the roof will structurally support dormers, is the best option to allow natural light and ventilation for the attic. Dormers are suitable as emergency exits.
  • Storage – the space along the attic’s low ceiling walls are ideal for installing built-in shelves, drawers, niches, or cupboards.
  • Effective Use of Light – paint walls and the ceiling light colors to reflect light, this helps natural light flow throughout the finished room.
  • Flooring – ensure base flooring material is glued and attached with screws to avoid squeaking floors.
  • Carpet – if installing carpet, ensure that high-quality padding is used. The combination of these two items and well-installed base flooring will eliminate most squeaking problems.

Remodeling Ideas: Suggestions for Use

The following are a few ideas for attic remodeling projects:

  • Home Office – many people work at home today and typically have difficulty carving out a quiet space in a home. An attic is ideal for this and it also solves the home office tax deductibility problem.
  • Library/Sitting Room – this is a great getaway place for parents who like a quiet place to read, along with adding a few skylights or dormers to let in the comforting natural light.
  • Master Suite – turning an attic into a master suite provides a room for parents to have their own space. This is especially comfortable when dormers are added to provide lots of natural light.
  • Home Theater – is one of the most popular ideas, because the room can be transformed to provide a realistic movie theater experience with a flat-screen TV and sound system.
  • Play/Game Room – this type of room provides an ideal place for a kid’s playroom.

Attic remodeling has many challenges; however, these challenges can be overcome when the homeowner considers what they need to know about home improvement. The good thing about attic renovations is that any existing problems are exposed and the budget will not be rocked by sudden surprises.

Creating an Attic Access Panel

If you have an older home, you may notice that there is no attic access panel to speak of. While you may not want to spend any time at all in the attic, to make necessary repairs in the future, access to the attic may be necessary. It also gives you the opportunity to properly insulate and air seal the attic area for increased energy savings. Creating an attic access panel is not a very hard project and it can be performed for under $50 yourself.

Creating the opening

Measure off of the nearest wall and mark where you want your attic access panel to be. Connect the marks to form a straight line using a level or chalk line. Measure 24 inches from this line to create another parallel line. Then take a square and make a perpendicular line that connects the two lines and forms the side of the opening. Measure and mark 24 inches from the line you just made on both parallel lines and connect them. You should be left with a square outline that will be the hole you cut into the ceiling.

Cut out the ceiling with a drywall saw and place the piece that you have cut out to the side for reuse later. You will notice that there is a ceiling joist that will have to be cut in order to finish the opening. Cut the ceiling joist 2 inches back into the attic on each side to make room for the new framing that will connect the ceiling joists around the opening. A reciprocating saw works best for this application.

Measure and cut framing that matches the current ceiling joist width and screw them through the ends of each ceiling joist to create a framed opening to support the attic access. Fill in the ends of the opening with framing, making sure to keep a ½ inch gap between the edge of the drywall and the framing.

Installing the insulation barrier

Cut ½ inch plywood or OSB into 12-inch lengths. Cut them to fit between the framing. This serves as a barrier to prevent insulation from falling onto the attic access. Attach the barrier to the framing with screws and screw the tops together.

Measure and cut the piece of drywall that you took out and cut it so that it is about ¼ inch smaller widthways and lengthways. Add two layers of 2-inch foam board to the top of the piece of drywall using foam board adhesive. This will act as an insulation barrier for the access lid.

Finishing touches

Install trim around the attic access. This will hold the access lid in place, so make sure that it is sturdy enough and creates about a ½ inch lip for the access cover to sit on.

Creating this access cover will give maintenance and repair technicians the ability to properly access the attic and the access will be insulated properly.