What are the Best Tips for Remodeling an Attic?

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  • Written By: Melissa King
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 29 January 2019
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An attic is often a place to store boxes and old clothing. With remodeling, however, attics can be transformed into an extra bedroom, living room, den, or office. Before remodeling an attic, the attic's new purpose should be decided. Then it is usually necessary to conduct a thorough inspection to determine if the attic is suitable for remodeling. Certain modifications to the attic will likely need to be made, so that it suits the homeowner's purpose.

Inspect the roof in the attic to determine if it has trusses or rafters. Trussed roof supports resemble triangles that are formed between the roof and the floor. These supports should not be moved without consulting an engineer. Doing so may result in a collapsed roof. Traditional rafters are typically more forgiving. They generally may be moved with little consequence, making remodeling an attic a bit easier.

Check the floor of the attic carefully. Many attic floors were not designed to withstand the pressure of heavy furniture or multiple people. Pay particular attention to clear span, the portion of the floor that is not supported by the walls below. It may be necessary to work with and add support beams based on the position of the walls. If the floor boards are weak, it is possible to install additional boards, though this will raise the floor's height and sacrifice more space.


An important part of remodeling an attic may be the addition of a staircase. Most attics are accessed by ladder. This can be left as is, if desired, but the strain of being stepped on repeatedly can cause damage to the ladder. A staircase is often a better bet. Traditional staircases can take up a lot of room below, reducing the livable square footage of the house. Spiral staircases take up about 5 square feet (0.46 square meters), which may be useful for maximizing living space.

When considering remodeling an attic, determine if there is enough room in the attic to qualify it as "living space." As a general guideline, either 50%, or 60 square feet (5.6 square meters), should have a ceiling height of at least 7 feet (2.1 meters) and 6 inches (2.4 cm). If the ceiling is below 7 feet (1.5 meters) high, it is typically considered uninhabitable.

Consider the electrical needs of remodeling an attic too. One new circuit is almost always necessary at a minimum. More circuits will need to be added if the attic is to be transformed into a bathroom or if it will have several rooms.

Once an inspection is complete, determine if the attic suits the purposes that are desired. If so, further details can be addressed, such as wall color, whether to install carpeting, and furniture layout. Once this is complete, the remodeling process can begin.



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