No matter how small your attic is, there’s probably enough room up there to store at least some of the things you don’t have space for in the house. Still, your attic “as is” might not be in any shape to safely house your possessions without eventually ruining them. Here are 10 things to consider as you convert your attic into a mini storage room:
- How clean is it? If nobody but your air conditioning service tech has been in your attic for decades, chances are it’s the filthiest spot in the house. Pull on a sturdy pair of work gloves and give your attic a thorough cleaning, from ceiling to floors. Scrub away all dust, dirt, grime, mildew and mold. The cleaner your attic is, the safer it will keep the possessions you store up there.
- Does it have bugs? While you’re in the attic, notice if you see bugs or rodents—dead or alive. If you do, call an exterminator to treat the attic so they won’t come back. You won’t want any critters nibbling on the holiday decorations or spare linens you’ll place in your new space.
- How hot is it? Don’t answer that: I already know it’s really hot up there. If you store collectibles like baseball cards or keepsakes like scrapbooks in a room that’s too hot, they might warp, discolor and even disintegrate. You might need to add ventilation to help cool the space.
- Can you see anything? Most attics have a single light bulb or no light at all, so it’s hard to find what you’re looking for or see well enough to organize the space. Call an electrician to tap into that single bulb and run more lighting to all sides of the attic.
- Is it safe to move around in? Beware of huge roofing nails that might protrude into the attic. Notice where the ceiling slopes—along the roof line—so you don’t bang your head..
- How sturdy is the floor? Your attic might have a plywood floor, and it might not have a floor at all. Reinforce the attic floor if you plan to store books, old record albums or other heavy items on it. The attic floor doubles as the ceiling of your living space. If it’s not strong enough, piling boxes onto it can send your ceiling crashing down.
- What will you store? Deciding what you will keep in the space will help you choose appropriate storage bins and boxes. Select heavy-duty bins that will prevent irreversible damage to your cherished possessions.
- How much space do you have? Most attics are shallow and narrow. Consider every nook and cranny a potential storage area. Build shelves; you’ll fit more into the attic if you have layers of storage space rather than just a floor to place items on. Use the space between the rafters, on the ceiling and along the attic walls. Don’t block the ventilation, though; air needs to flow through the attic to keep it cool.
- Does the roof leak? Check for water stains, wet spots and mildew. Have a leaky roof repaired before you place anything into your attic. The water will ruin it.
- Is it easy to get into? Once your attic is clean, organized and full of your stuff, climb up there on a regular basis to dust and to check your items for damage. Keep a stool or a ladder nearby so it won’t be a hassle to climb into the attic to keep it in shape.