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5 Tips for Refinishing the Attic

It’s always tempting to add more living space to your home, especially as the years go by and you find yourself filling up existing space at an alarming rate. One of the places typically useful for adding new living space is the attic.

What started out as a dark and dusty storage area can easily be turned into an additional bedroom, office or multi-purpose bonus room. Attics can be tricky though, and there are several things you need to consider to ensure that yours is a viable living space.

#1 - By code, living spaces need multiple points of exit for safety in an emergency. Make sure that your attic has, or is able to have, either two sets of stairs leading out of it or one set of stairs and a window.

#2 - And speaking of stairs, that rickety old pull-down ladder won’t do. If you’re planning to make an official room out of your attic, you’ll need to make sure the floor below it has enough room to accommodate a full-size staircase.

#3 - Many attics are not full-height, but a room requires at least 7 feet of head space from floor to ceiling. If your attic does not have this, you’ll need to either raise the roof or consider using only the portion of the attic that has proper height.

#4 - When considering the ceiling, don’t forget to calculate the flooring. Most attics are finished only with ceiling/roof joists supporting the ceiling of the rooms underneath and the roof above. You’ll likely need to have additional floor joists added. On top of that, you’ll need sub-flooring, flooring, insulation and drywall above, so make sure you count these in when figuring on your 7-plus feet of headroom.

#5 - Attics are notorious for being stuffy places. As heat rises, you’ll find that the attic is the most stifling place in your home, especially since the house’s air conditioning system probably doesn’t include vents in the attic.

Be sure to have your contractor tie in your existing HVAC/air conditioning system into the attic space or install a separate system for just the attic. Alternatives you might consider are adding additional windows and fans to help keep the attic cool and well-ventilated.

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