Building a Garage Attic: Everything You Need to Know
Do you ever wish you could squeeze just a few more square feet out of your home? It may seem like every available surface is cluttered with things you hardly touch, but you don’t want the monthly expense of paying for a storage unit. Even the garage is cluttered to the brink of bursting with your Christmas trees, bicycles, old children’s toys, and sentimental items you can’t bear to part with.
Fortunately, you can always find a way to squeeze just a little more storage space out of the home by building a garage attic.
Building your own garage attic can be an excellent way to make room for hidden storage (check out the article on garage storage ideas). Your items will be out of sight and out of mind until you need them again. The best part is that it doesn’t have to visible to anyone from the outside of your home. It can definitely make a cluttered environment feel cleaner and more put-together.
The benefits of building a garage attic are fairly obvious, but the steps of going about doing so may not be. You can find out everything you need to know to tackle this project in our handy guide below.
Evaluate Your Trusses
Before you do anything else, you need to make sure that your roof and its trusses can hold the estimated weight capacity. Since this won’t be a new living area, you don’t have the benefit of receiving insight from a local building inspector.
However, that doesn’t mean that there won’t be natural consequences for not doing things by the book. For example, installing a garage attic when your roof can’t support the weight will eventually lead to holes in the ceiling.
Start by finding the blueprints for your home to help determine the overall weight capacity that your garage can handle. The original blueprints should give a clear indication of what trusses your home has and their exact location.
These details are essential to helping you figure out if the roof can support any extra weight. If it can’t, you may be able to add a few extra trusses to the area to help increase the weight capacity.
If you’re still in doubt about whether your garage ceiling can handle the weight, you really should consult a structural engineer. They may be able to provide a more experienced look with a comprehensive understanding of what the building structure needs.
An engineer may also be able to provide you with specific steps to remedy the issue if it can’t currently bear the full load.
Consider a Loft Ladder Kit
You can certainly opt to make your own wooden ladder and loft door to install in the ceiling. However, this may be a slow and painstaking process.
You can save yourself some of the headache of measuring each piece and assembling it by purchasing a premade loft door kit. This also ensures that the construction is high-quality and can support your full body weight.
Gaining access to the new garage attic might be your first real step toward creating the space you need. Brace yourself for the excitement of cutting a hole in your ceiling to install this kit and the necessary hatch to open and close it.
Get Help With the Floorboards
Once you’ve accomplished installing a door, it’s time to make sure you can actually walk across the attic to get to your stored items. You won’t be able to store all of your items across the trusses without risking that they would eventually fall through the ceiling.
Not only that, but it isn’t safe for you to hop from joist to joist while you arrange everything.
You’ll need to install floorboards, preferably a ¾” or 1” sheet of plywood that can go directly over top of your joists. Maneuvering these pieces up into the new attic space will be difficult for one person to accomplish alone.
Make sure you have an able partner who can help hand the floorboards up to you while you’re in the attic. You might even find it necessary to switch out regularly to prevent both of you from feeling overtired.
Start the Floors Off Right
If you’ve measured the floorboards you need appropriately, they should fit neatly across the floor of your new attic space. Unfortunately, this only works when you’re able to ensure that your first floorboard is perfectly straight.
Even a slight deviation from this perfection can throw off the rest of your measurements and lead to a final floorboard that simply won’t fit.
Starting off the right way may require more time and effort, but it’ll easily be worth the initial investment. It’ll save you more time and cut down on the waste you produce with your materials by taking the time to plan ahead and work meticulously.
Make Sure the Attic is Ventilated
There needs to be enough air flowing in the attic to prevent your items from becoming moldy, stale, or otherwise ruined. To this end, you can increase the airflow of the garage attic in several different ways.
You may need to install vents, new soffits, or place a few attic fans in the affected areas. These are all things that you need to take the time to do before moving forward with storing your items up here.
It’ll be much easier to install the necessary ventilation prior to having the space crammed with your excess belongings. This also gives you an opportunity to sweep up any mess and sawdust that could be created from this process before getting it all over your stored items.
Come Up with a Storage Solution.
Build in custom shelves or install wire racks if the floor can handle the weight. This will allow you to see and access your items more easily over time.
It may help to develop a system that utilizes color-coded storage bins or designated areas of the new attic to help you find a logical place for the items. For example, you could keep ornaments in green plastic containers but children’s toys would go in red. You’ll have to consider what you need to store and come up with a solution that works for you.
Building a garage attic is a tremendous project to take on. This simple space can require a lot of labor, but it pays dividends by substantially increasing the amount of storage your home has. As we mentioned in the beginning, take all the necessary precautions you need in order to build this area safely. Bring in professional help to get you started if necessary.
In the end, the extra effort will be well worth the price you pay when the job is completed perfectly.
If you need a new garage built (with or without an attic), come to Danley’s. We’re Chicago’s best garage builders. This is because we custom build all of our garages to meet your exact specifications. Get a free quote now and join the other 100,000 homeowners with a Danley’s garage.