In almost every home in America, there’s an attic. That’s an extra storage space that’s right over your head! The problem, of course, is that attics are usually left unfinished. Sure, you can still store things there, but it can be deceptively tricky. They’ll get dusty and dirty (and maybe even chewed on by critters). Luckily, DIY attic storage isn’t that hard once you know what to do.
There are small-ish, affordable-ish things you can do to make your DIY attic storage accessible. Also, to make it easier and more convenient to find certain things when you need them. (We’re looking at you, Christmas decorations and winter clothes!) So if you’d like to get more out of your attic, read on! We’ve got some Top Tips to help you get more out of your attic without busting your budget! Enjoy!
Can I Turn My Attic Into Storage Space?
First, you’ll have to make sure you can use your attic for storage. This is a question we need to ask first since some attics don’t make suitable storage spaces. For example, if you have an extremely low-pitched roof, standing up might be impossible. Or your home may be older and need major (and costly) renovations to support a DIY attic storage space. You need to consider several other things, like whether your attic can support a floor. Speaking of which…
Can My DIY Attic Storage Support a Floor?
Most attics don’t have a regular floor like the rest of the house. (It’s simply not necessary in most cases.) Without foundation, the risk of falling through the ceiling and hurting yourself is much greater (duh). For that reason, many people decide to put a floor (or at least some basic plywood sheeting) in their attic. That begs the question; can my attic support a floor?
The answer, in most cases, is a definite yes. Even though it wasn’t put there, the joists supporting your ceiling are quite strong. Putting down flooring won’t stress them any more than the floors in your bedroom, kitchen, or bath. We would, however, suggest you get help bringing the flooring up into the attic. It’s a dangerous task that demands at least two people, if not 3. Also, a quick inspection of the joists in the attic might be a good idea. If they look damaged or weak, you might want to ask a carpenter to take a look.
What To Never Store in Your DIY Attic Storage
While we’re on the subject of turning the attic into storage space, let’s look at what not to store in the attic. The fact is, there are a few things that you should never keep up there. They’re either dangerous, attract pests, or simply get destroyed over time by the high heat. They include:
- Cleaning products
- Anything with leather
- Valuable musical instruments
- Anything made from wool
- Electronics that are still worth valuable
- Fire extinguishers
How to Finish a DIY Attic for Storage
Know that you know your home has a useable attic; it’s time to start turning it into valuable storage space. Below is a list of the most critical tasks in front of you to do that. Some may be more important to you than others, but all will help make the conversion to storage easier.
Cover Exposed Insulation with Plastic Sheeting
Most attics, luckily, have insulation to keep your home warm in winter and cool in summer. The problem with that insulation is that, frankly, it’s not so great for your health. (Talk about fiberglass in your lungs.) For some, just brushing up against insulation can leave them itchy and uncomfortable. The best solution is to put up plastic sheeting and cover the insulation completely. You can purchase a big roll of plastic sheeting at your local big-box home improvement store. (Look in the paint section.) Then, with the help of a family member or friend, you can staple it into place with a staple gun. It’s an easy, affordable solution to that less-than-awesome insulation problem.
Put Up a Bar to Hang Stuff
Think of your attic as a massive closet with all sorts of extra space. It would help if you had bars to hang things in a closet, so putting some bars in the attic is a no-brainer. Once up, you can easily store winter clothes. Also, you can hang other things like all your holiday wreaths. That way, they stay un-smooshed and ready to display every season. If you have a lot to hang, you can put in multiple bars too. (Some even put them between the rafters and trusses.) Does your attic have a high-pitched roof with a very slanted ceiling? Hanging shelves may be difficult, but hanging a bar should be much more comfortable!
Use Shelving To Make Storage Easier
One of the biggest problems with DIY attic storage is that all you usually have is the floor to place your stuff. After a while, all your floor space gets used up! If you purchase plastic shelving units, however, you increase your storage space substantially. We say plastic shelves because hello – they’re cheap! (It’s the same reason they make skyscrapers in big cities!) Once they’re in place, you can go vertical with all your boxes, books, old toys, and baby things! Plus, it makes it so much easier to find what you’re looking for up there.
Use Corded Utility Lights To Make It Easier To See
One of the most significant drawbacks to the attic is that it’s dark up there. Most attics don’t have wiring, so there’s no way to install a light fixture and get some much-needed light. We suggest some rope lights, they’re cheap and look neat! You can plug in the lights downstairs using an extension cord and hang them from the rafters. The extra light will make it much easier to find things, arrange things (and not bonk your head on a beam!).
Use Clear, Plastic Bins To Store Things
One of the biggest problems with DIY attic storage is that all those old boxes start to look alike. That means spending a lot more time searching for whatever it is you need, box by box. Better to purchase some big, cheap, clear plastic bins instead. That way, you can see what’s in every container and save yourself all sorts of time. It also makes it much easier to organize and store more things up there. We suggest getting stackable plastic bins, making it much easier to pile them on top of each other. Or you can purchase the plastic shelving units. (They make it much easier to store plastic bins of different sizes.)
We talked already about how it isn’t easy to find stuff in the attic. Old boxes look alike, and it’s dark up there too. (Get that utility light!) One of the easiest ways to identify stuff faster is with labels. You can get tags at your local office supply or big-box store in many different sizes. Once you do, you can label everything in the attic to your heart’s content! After that, turn the boxes and bins with the label facing outwards. That way, next time you need something from the attic, finding it will be a breeze!
Get Rid Of Stuff You Don’t Want, Need or Use
Are you storing your old photos, yearbooks, and seasonal clothing in the attic? Check! Baby toys and clothes? Check? Anything with sentimental value that you want to keep for posterity? Check again! But here’s the thing; some of the stuff up there is just plain junk. Your old toaster oven that no longer works? A mattress that was your grandmother’s? Newspapers from before you were born?! All of these things, and much more, take up valuable attic space. That’s why, if turning attic into storage space is your goal, you should toss a lot of that stuff first. Give your DIY attic storage a good, thorough cleaning, and it will amaze you at how much more space you have up there! It will also make it easier to put in shelves, hang some bars, and so forth!
By the Way, Don’t Store Boxes in the Attic
OK, we know this goes against everything you know about attics! Most of us open the attic door and just toss stuff up there in boxes all willy-nilly! But the fact is that extreme attic temperatures will destroy cardboard in no time flat. Then they’ll fall apart, and you’ll have an unholy mess on your hands. (Which, let’s face it, sucks). Better to do as we mentioned earlier and buy cheap, plastic bins. They last much longer (and keep out dust and vermin too).
Rent a Storage Unit While You Reorganize The Attic
To get the most out of your DIY attic storage, you’ll need to spend some time and energy doing it. One thing many homeowners do is rent a storage unit while they’re revamping. That way, they can have access to everything without tripping over stuff, and so forth. A local storage unit is affordable, easy to access, and can hold all sorts of items. Some even use them to store materials that they’ll use for the attic project. (It cuts down on theft from having to leave the building materials outside.)
Have Fun Organizing Your Attic!
We hope these tips and tricks will help you to get your DIY attic storage wholly organized! One thing is sure; you’ll have more valuable storage space up there, pronto! Best of luck with turning attic space into storage! And remember, if you need more storage space, renting a local storage unit is a great solution!