Over the years we all accumulate our “stuff”. Pictures, books, clothes, trophies, etc are part of who we are and are often difficult to part with. Our need for storage grows as our collection of stuff grows and one storage option that most of us don’t utilize anymore is our attic. If our items for storage are condensed, prepped and our space properly set, our attics can be a useful, viable, Free storage option.
Before you start preparing your storage space its best to figure out what items you will store. Go through and purge what you don’t need and only keep items you cannot part with. Make sure you consult with other family members so any decision is a consensus. Once you decide what you want, you need to properly pack and secure the items so they are properly preserved in storage. Loose items like books, papers, and photographs should be packed in corrugated boxes or plastic bins and sealed. Clothing, if possible, should be packed in plastic tubs or in sealed air tight storage bags to keep free from infestation. Furniture can be covered with blankets, sheets or brown paper pads to protect the finish. Once all the items are prepped, figure out how much storage space is needed to store your goods efficiently and effectively.
Now you should know that attics in homes built prior to the 1970’s are easier to use for storage space than newer homes because they were made with steeper roofs. New homes offer the least amount of storage space. Remember, no attic is suitable for storage unless the proper type of ventilation is used (along with proper insulation). While there are some goods that aren’t temperature sensitive, all attics should be properly ventilated.
Proper ventilation prevents excessive heat, and high humidity which can occur naturally with temperature changes. One solution for ventilation is mechanical ventilation which uses electrical fans to draw in fresh air, and release old air. The fans automatically start up as soon as the attic reaches certain temperatures, usually over 100° F. If you decide to have a mechanical ventilation system installed, make sure it has an automatic shut off feature. Increased air currents caused by attic fans can feed house fires so shut off valves allow the system to shutdown when temperatures rise dramatically. Some attic fans can also be equipped with a humidistat that kicks the system on when the relative humidity exceeds 70%.
Along with good ventilation additional insulation is recommended for long term storage in the attic. Insulation acts as a barrier slowing down the temperature changes and is rated by its efficiency. Ventilation, insulation, and moisture buildup should be big considerations when converting your attic into storage space. Proper set up is the start of insuring a usable storage space.Before starting your project of preparing your new storage space, make sure there is enough light to work with.
Before starting your project of preparing your new storage space, make sure there is enough light to work with. Any items currently in the attic should be put to one area of the attic, use a shop vacuum to clean dust, debris, dirt and loose insulation. Mop the area with warm soapy water, open windows to ventilate, clean under any boxes, and make sure to remove any areas that are torn or sagging. Secure any loose items into airtight storage containers. Get rid of unwelcome critters like, mice, bugs, harmful spiders, squirrels, birds, bats, raccoons, wasps, and bees. If not taken care of, these creatures can be harmful and destructive.
When preparing your attic for storage, these other factors are also of great importance:
Check for other problems like roof leaks, cracks in the floor, walls, etc. Remove any debris, loose boards. Nail any loose floor boards. Make sure to check for any moisture, or mold that has entered the area. This can be potentially dangerous to you and your family.
Make sure the floors are strong enough to hold the weight of items to be stored. There can be trouble if floors can’t support the weight of the stored items. New floors may need to be installed.
Have an easy access to the storage space. You may want to consider a pull down ladder or a new staircase may also be added.
Check with the city for permits which may be required if electrical or mechanical work needs to be done.
Now that the major work for your attic storage area is complete, you can decide if you want to create cabinetry, use storage shelving units, hanging shelves, etc to complete the space. Shelving units can be attached to the exterior walls for easy storage organization or hanging shelves used for smaller goods.
Remember, items that will go for long term storage should be placed farthest away from easy access, and items you only need for short term storage should be closer and easiest to get to.
Don’t stack heavy boxes on furniture, mark items fragile, and the use of air sealed containers is recommended. You have now created the most efficient use of your attic storage space.