Attic Storage Solutions Done The Right Way From Green Attic

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In the rare case where space is hard to come by ( think Manhattan) an attic is the most cost effective way to add usable square footage to the home. But, how is this done without compromising the intended R-Value of the insulation. 

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There are several considerations to discuss with homeowners when determining wether or not storage is possible

  • In Chicago we experience temperatures from -20F to 95F so 
  • Most attics are vented ( unconditioned) meaning they are intended to be the same or as close to the same as the outside temperature as possible 
  • Much of the stored items may be difficult to access if the attic opening is small 
  • Additionally the storage area must be accessible by ladder or have a built in pull down ladder 
  • Stored Items should be kept in a sealed weather proof container such as a Rubbermaid Box
  • Accessibility and Safety of stored items

Additional Factors Include 

  • Lighting –  Example: Loft Light which makes other potentially useful products for attic storage
  • Roof pitch determines ceiling height and therefore usable storage space
  • HVAC, Plumbing, Electrical, Low Voltage Cables and More that may be blocking a true pathway or storage deck particularly we struggle with electrical conduit  pipes running horizontally across the attic floor. 
  • Temperature and humidity control of the attic space as it relates to the contents of stored items. 
  • Storage Deck or Storage Platform interference with Intended R-Value of Existing and Retrofitted Insulation Project Improvements. 

While there are some potentially useful DIY ideas on the market, we will focus entirely on the intended performance of the attic insulation and ventilation as it relates to a healthy comfortable home. Lets take a look at whats available and what may work or not work in the Chicago Area. 

One of the most common ways you may find online is LoftLedge. This is actually a great way to gain additional storage in the event there is proper truss construction in the format pictured and it meets safety and weight requirements. Keeping in mind accessibility. This Truss pattern is also uncommon. 

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Warning : in the Chicago Area, we have fluctuating temperatures to the extreme in both directions, so weather is a consideration for stored items particularly the potential for mold growth on organic substances such as cardboard boxes. We had one such client who declined the solar fan active ventilation, and after mold treatment, he returned all items he had removed prior to mold treatment back into the the same environment and the mold returned to the attic sheathing ( roof deck.) 

 Green Attic has a far better method that does not compromise intended R-Value. Insulation gaps between studs may result in approximately 20-30% reduction in the surface area of the cooling or heating source ( at a minimum.)

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This photo shows the storage deck stops short of the edges of the attic to allow for optimal insulation.  Ventilation is active and un-compromised. The storage deck is extremely solid. The sidewalls of the storage deck are fitted with a rail secured to the framing to prevent loose fill insulation from making content with the deck and stored items. 

Our final two considerations are lighting and safety / accessibility. The attic storage space must be safely accessible to the homeowner so in some cases we are able to create a larger opening to the attic hatch and install a pulldown ladder such as the rainbow attic stair.

  This is possible when the attic framing is designed for modification and load. When lights are installed in the attic, they should meet current electrical code. A headlight or flashlight will work as well, but keep in mind you may need free hands, so if no electrical is available, a battery powered light should be placed in the areas of accessibility. 

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Final Note: We perform hundreds attic retrofits per month and we see several types of attics ranging from late 1800’s to 2021, each with its own set of variables. Our expert insulation consultants perform free in home visits and will listen to your needs and discuss possibilities for storage, sometimes its not possible based on the current attic conditions such as structural load or space. 

  • Contact us today to see if we can create an affordable storage solution for your home. 
  • We will measure and examine the conditions of the attic space
  • Provide you with a free quote based on sq footage. 
  • Ensure it meets the needs of your families storage goals. 
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Tim Darling