One of the most popular and cost-effective home renovation projects is converting an attic into additional living space. The process is often more complicated than adding an addition to the house because it requires an understanding of a variety of technical aspects, but it can be a great way to transform an underused space into a unique room for your family.
A finished attic, in addition to being more comfortable, can also save you money on energy costs. By insulating properly and sealing the entire attic, you can cut your monthly energy bills by 15% or more (5).
Before you begin, it’s important to understand the basics of how attics work. First, they’re framed like any other type of roof structure, with long boards called rafters or trusses that support the tops of the eaves and ceiling beams below.
Rafters can be made of different types of wood, but most of them are constructed of 2x4s, which are strong enough to hold up the weight of a house. If you plan to convert your attic into a living space, it’s essential to make sure that the rafters and floor joists are sturdy enough to support the weight of the new furniture and fixtures.
Whether you want to turn your attic into a bedroom or an office, it’s essential to make sure the space is well-insulated. Attic insulation is typically fiberglass batt insulation that is installed on top of the rafters and floor joists to keep the interior warm in the winter, and cool in the summer.
The insulation should be laid from the perimeter of the attic toward the ceiling opening to help keep heat and moisture from building up. The attic should also be well ventilated so that heat and moisture are able to escape.
In addition to ensuring the attic is well-insulated, you’ll also need to install drywall or paneling to cover the wooden rafters and floor joists. Having enough light in the space is also an important factor, and you may want to consider installing skylights for extra natural lighting.
Another way to improve the attic’s insulation is by installing a layer of blown-in insulation. This type of insulation is usually a thicker, heavier insulation that is blown into the ceiling to fill all cavities in the rafters and floor joists.
When choosing a blown-in insulation product, choose one that’s rated for the temperature and humidity conditions of your area. Avoid sprayed or bubbled insulation, as it won’t be able to breathe, which can cause mold growth and airborne pathogens.
If you’re planning to add a bathroom, it’s essential to consult a structural engineer before beginning the conversion. He or she can determine whether the weight of the finished attic will cause problems with the foundation and framing and will advise on how to strengthen the rafters or floor joists so that they can handle the added weight.
The attic is a good place to store holiday decorations and other items that might otherwise take up space in your basement or other areas of your home. It also provides an attractive backdrop for a home office or entertainment room, so it’s worth considering the possibilities if you’re looking to add additional space and improve your home.