Bringing an Attic Space to Life

Loft space
One way to make the most of your home’s space is through effective use of the attic. An unused, dusty old attic can be transformed from wasted space into a spacious loft, or an additional upstairs bedroom. Here are some tips to help you turn your attic into a living space.

Identifying Your Roofing System

The first question you need to answer is whether the roof is made in a conventional rafter system or a trussed system. A trussed system is just what it sounds like: it’s a web of boards forming triangles between the roof and floor. All these boards depend on one another, and so cannot be moved to make way for an attic room.

If you see that you have a trussed system, it is unlikely that you will be able to turn your attic into a room. If you have a conventional system, you’ll see lots of space in the attic, with the only boards in the way running from one roof pitch to another, a few feet below the peak.

Insulation of the Attic

Insulation is vital for making your attic room into a comfortable space. It will also save you a lot of money in heating or air conditioning bills. Your first step is to check your existing insulation for gaps.

Then you can cover the areas not already insulated. Fibre glass is one of the most widely used insulation materials for attics and easy to install if you’re doing a DIY makeover.

If you’re insulating around a heat source, make sure you use unfaced fibreglass, as the paper facing on most fibreglass is flammable. Otherwise, use paper-faced fibreglass, because it’s a good vapour barrier.

If you’re laying the insulation yourself, you should cover your body as completely as possible. That means long sleeves, long trousers and a hood or hat. Fibreglass is an irritant, so don’t let it make contact with your skin. You should also wear a dust mask, goggles and gloves.

When you’ve laid your insulation on the floor, you should also install it in the walls and ceiling of the attic room, if possible. Then you’re ready to install the drywall, which is a board that will make the interior walls of the attic. The drywall (also known as wallboard and sheetrock) can be made from plywood or gypsum.

Considering Lighting

Because of the location of your attic, no matter what you do; lighting will never be as good as it is in the rest of the house. You may well want to consider a skylight, or even two. Before you position them, make sure that you note the path of the sun during the course of the day.

You will want to make the most of the light path, particularly in the earlier months of the year. You may also want to consider the feasibility of installing a regular side window, though you may need to be creative here, and use an oddly-shaped or off-sized window in order to fit.

See Also
Creating an extra room in the roof space
Loft Conversions
A domestic wheelchair lift
Making your Home Accessible