Steps to Convert Your Attic into Livable Space
Have you always dreamed of one day converting all that attic area over your head into livable space? Adding a new room or two onto your home can come with a number of benefits, from giving your family a little more space to spread out to actually increasing the value of your home if you ever decide to sell.
If you’ve chosen this year as the time you’re finally going to move forward with an attic renovation project, here are some things to consider that will make your life a lot easier when it comes time for the actual work!
1. Check Local Permits
It might seem tempting to forgo the hassle and headache of pulling a local building permit, but trust us: this isn’t a project you want to cut corners with, and you want to keep it above board.
You’ll need a detailed plan that’s been, at the very least, reviewed by a licensed engineer or architect, and you’ll need to make sure that your plans are up to your city or town’s building codes. Not having a permit for that work can turn selling a home into a nightmare, so look at the bright side: going through the correct processes will make you double-check all your decisions, and ensure your project will turn out right.
2. Double Check Your Flooring
Yes, your attic floor might be able to support the weight of all your holiday decorations and boxes of seasonal clothes and storage, but not so fast! Is your subfloor in good shape? A structural analysis before work starts could help avoid a huge mess down the road.
3. Wire for Electricity
It’s a good idea to hire a licensed electrician to make sure the electrical wiring in your attic will be up to code and safely supply enough electricity to power whatever appliances you might have on your new top floor.
4. Close Up Any Air Leaks
It will be significantly harder to address home comfort issues once you’ve already finished the renovation process, so now is the time to make sure your home’s thermal boundary is still tight and protective after you’ve expanded it with the addition of this new floor.
Air sealing helps prevent air movement between the inside and outside of your home. It’s one of two very important elements of home comfort (insulation, which we’ll cover next, is the other). Without sealing up the tiny cracks and gaps in your home’s building shell, you’ll struggle to heat and cool your attic. The benefits of air sealing your attic include keeping your energy bills down and creating a comfortable space that people will actually want to spend time in!
Air sealing is usually done with spray foam insulation, and a home energy audit from an expert home performance contractor will use blower door testing, among other things, to identify exactly where air is getting in and out of your home.
It’s very likely that before your home renovation project, your attic fell outside of your home’s normal living spaces, and so wasn’t completely insulated. Now you’ll want to stay comfortable in your attic room or rooms without expensive heating and cooling costs just to keep consistent temperatures in this new part of your home.
Because of a building science principle called “the stack effect,” the attic is one of the more vulnerable parts of your home when it comes to controlling the temperature and comfort of your entire home, and is often the main culprit when homeowners complain about high energy bills and inconsistent temperatures throughout their home. That’s why it’s so important to take this opportunity to properly insulate your attic.
There are a number of types of attic insulation that can be used in your home, but with our experience renovating attic space and helping homeowners throughout Pennsylvania achieve whole home comfort, we recommend dense pack cellulose as the best insulation for attic wall renovation.
Cellulose attic insulation, installed by Energy Smart, is made out of 86% recycled materials, is insect and mold resistant, and unlike fiberglass insulation, won’t lose a significant part of its insulation R-value when it gets cold. Compared to other insulation types it’s also affordable, keeping your attic insulation costs down.
6. Install Drywall
Only once all the other components are finished can you hang drywall on your walls and make decisions about how to finish your ceiling. If your attic ceiling is high enough, you could install a dropped ceiling, or you could hang drywall directly to the rafter beams after you’ve insulated and air sealed.
Transform Your Attic with Energy Smart Home Improvement
Finding an attic insulation company near you who can ensure that your attic bedroom renovation (or whatever else you may have planned for the new space in your home) is successful is as easy as reaching out to Energy Smart Home Improvement! We can work with you to discuss proper attic ventilation, attic floor insulation, and conduct a thorough home energy audit to ensure that the upgrades you’re making won’t result in high energy bills and reduced comfort.
Attic conversion renovations aren’t the only home improvement upgrade we can handle either! We have plenty of experience with attached garage attic renovation projects, including air sealing your garage and insulating it to help you transform it into a new home addition.
Talk to an expert attic insulation contractor near you about your conversion project. Call 717.258.6574
or contact us today.
How to Finish an Attic
Interested in transforming your unfinished attic into usable living space? Whether you’re in need of an extra bedroom, office or playroom, a DIY attic remodel is a great way to add space to your home without paying for a whole home addition.
Use this guide to learn how to transform your space from exposed rafters to a finished room.
What to Consider Before Finishing an Attic
Make Sure Your Attic Meets Local Building Codes
When converting an attic to a living space, it must meet the same building requirements as the other rooms in your home. To meet most building codes your attic should:
- Have at least 7 feet of vertical clearance in the majority of the room, be a minimum of 7 feet wide and have at least 70 square feet of space available.
- Be accessible by a full-size staircase.
- Have another exit in case of an emergency, typically an easily accessible window.
If your attic is only accessible from a ladder or a pull-down staircase, you will need to build a permanent staircase before it can be used as anything more than storage space.
Pro Tip: If most of your attic’s ceiling is under 7 feet tall, you can hire a professional to build a dormer to increase the height of the room.
Find Out If You Need a Building Permit
Reach out to your local permitting office to find out if you need a permit for your attic conversion. A permit is usually only needed if you are adding electrical wiring or ventilation, or if you plan to change the structure of your home in the process, such as knocking down an existing wall or adding a dormer.
Consider Your Heating and Ventilation Needs
If your attic does not already have duct work, you will need to find out if your current HVAC system will support an additional room. Bring in an expert to look at the capacity of your current heating and cooling system and find out if additional ductwork can be added to reach your attic.
If adding ductwork or HVAC capacity is beyond your budget, other options include baseboard heating and mini-spilt systems.
In addition, have the contractor check for or install rafter vents to ensure air can move behind the insulation you will install to finish your attic. Rafter vents will keep your roof cool even while your attic is warm.
Consider the Cost to Finish an Attic
The average cost of an attic conversion is $49,438, according to Home Advisor. The cost of the project will depend on the elements your project includes.
|Elements of an Attic Conversion||Cost*|
|Installing Ducts and Vents||$1,087|
|New HVAC System||$3,942|
|Building a Dormer||$1,800 for a DIY project or $2,500 to $25,000 for professional installation|
|Adding Stairs||$2,240 to $3,126 for professional installation|
|Electrical Wiring||$50 to $100 an hour|
*According to HomeAdvisor
If you are planning on a DIY attic remodel, you can expect to pay approximately $5,000 for materials including drywall, insulation and carpeting depending on the size of the attic.
Finishing an Attic With Trusses
If your roof is supported by trusses, you will probably not have the space in your attic to build a room. You would need to relocate the trusses to create the space and ceiling height required by building codes. This would require an architect, engineer and a significant financial investment.
How to Finish an Attic
Be realistic about your skill level when it comes to doing the work yourself. If this is your first remodel, consider hiring a professional to help you convert your attic.
1. Clean Out Your Attic
Before you begin converting an attic, you need to clean out the area and remove any old junk and building materials you will no longer need. Assuming you are going to add new insulation before installing drywall, remove any old insulation. If the insulation is loose or blown-in, use an industrial vacuum to remove it.
If the insulation on your attic floor is in good shape, you can install subflooring over it. If it is old and compressed, consider replacing it.
2. Wire the Attic for Electricity
Once your attic is brought up to code and you’ve obtained a permit, hire a licensed electrician to ensure all wiring meets code requirements. By hiring a professional to install electrical wiring across the walls and ceiling, you can avoid many of the common problems DIY homeowners tend to come across.
If you do the work yourself, you run the risk of electrical fires. As a rule of thumb, there should be at least one outlet on each wall and at least one outlet every 12 feet.
3. Build a Subfloor
If joists are visible on the floor of your attic, you will need to build a subfloor. Start this process only once all electrical and ventilation installations are completed. To reduce sound traveling from your finished attic through the floor to the rest of the house, you can add insulation under the subfloor paneling or choose a thicker subfloor panel.
To build a subfloor:
- Snap a chalk line that marks the center of the joist for its full length. The edge of the panels should sit at this mark.
- Lay the first panel along the attic’s longest wall ¼ of an inch from the wall.
- The longest edge of the panel should run parallel to the floor joists.
- Drill 2 ½ inch screws into the floor joists every 6 inches.
- Install the next panel with a ¼ inch gap between the existing panel. When installing the next row, avoid placing end seams on top of one another.
- Repeat process until floor is covered.
- Caulk all seams and screw heads.
4. Insulate Your Attic
For a DIY project, the best insulation for an attic is batt insulation with a vapor-retardant facing. This insulation is great for finishing an attic because it is flexible and easy to install and can even be layered for additional coverage. Before installing the batts, caulk any spaces or leaks where air can pass to the rooms below.
Batt insulation is usually cut to fit between standard wall joists and 8-foot-high walls. Attic walls are not always this tall. If the batts don’t fit, trim pieces with a utility knife.
To install attic insulation:
- Insert insulation into the cavity between joists the vapor barrier facing the room and not the external wall. Try to compress the insulation as little as possible to avoid reducing the insulating value.
- Staple the insulation into the joists as directed by the insulation manufacturer.
- Continue process on all attic walls and on the ceiling.
- If you need to insulate behind pipes or electrical wiring, peel the insulation apart and create two layers and fit the layers around the obstacle, making sure the vapor barrier is facing the room.
5. Install Drywall and Ceiling
Once you’ve finished installing the insulation, it’s time to finish your walls. Hanging drywall will really make your attic conversion take shape. Hang drywall horizontally from your exposed studs and secure with drywall screws. Finish by covering seams and screws with drywall mud.
Depending on the height of your ceiling, you may be able to choose a dropped ceiling for a more finished look, but if you need to conserve space to meet building code standards, install drywall directly to the ceiling as well.
6. Paint Attic Ceiling and Walls
Next, paint your drywall and watch as your attic starts to look like a real living space. New drywall will need to be primed prior to painting. After priming, add at least two coats of paint to give the drywall a finished appearance. If you used drywall on the ceiling, paint it before starting on the walls.
When choosing colors for your attic room, consider lighter options, especially if the room has few windows and little natural light.
7. Choose and Install Attic Flooring
You’re almost finished with your DIY attic remodel. Your next step is to choose and install flooring for the room. Carpeting is a good option for an attic because it helps reduce sound and adds additional insulation to your floor. Follow installation guidelines based on the flooring of your choice.
Enjoy Your Finished Attic
Next step, decorate your converted attic! Now that your attic includes painted walls and finished floors, move in furniture and décor to make the room the living space you need.
Interested in renovating other rooms in your home? Check out these articles:
- How to Finish Your Basement
- Knocking Down a Wall
- Building an In-Law Suite
reconstruction and re-equipment, interesting photo and video
2. Roof reconstruction
3. What and how to insulate the under-roof space
4. Exit to the attic
5. Completion of work
Many people who want to expand their home without enough space on the site are thinking about how to make an attic out of the attic. Changing the purpose of a room is much cheaper than building a new floor, and it also takes less time.
To convert a cold, unheated attic into an attic, you first need to draw up a project. This must be done so that the converted premises serve for a long time, and not collapse in the near future. If you need to change the truss system, it is better to turn to professionals for drafting a project. If there are no global changes, this can be done independently.
If there is enough height to re-equip the room, the roof does not need to be dismantled. It will be enough just to inspect the rafters, and if damage is found, replace them. When they are in good condition, you only need to do the floor. For this purpose, mineral wool is laid between the lags for insulation, and then the floor is sewn up with OSB or chipboard plates from above, self-tapping screws are used for fasteners.
Between the rafters, you also need to put a heater, after making a preliminary wiring of engineering networks. Prior to this, an assessment of natural light in the attic is carried out – for this purpose, a hole is cut in the roof and window frames are installed. On sale you can find ready-made windows specially designed for attics – all that remains is to mount them. Install windows before laying the insulation, along with the formation of doorways. If necessary, the roof in the window installation area is again covered with a roof, sealing the joints between the roof and the frame.
What and how to insulate the under-roof space
Before proceeding with the insulation of the room, you need to take care of the ventilation of the under-roof space. Before converting the attic into an attic, you need to insulate the roof to protect all structural elements and create a comfortable microclimate. You can use materials such as mineral wool, polyurethane and foam boards.
Experts advise using mineral wool, which is easily placed between the rafters. The insulation is covered on both sides with a vapor and waterproofing film. Before insulating the roof of the attic, engineering networks are carried out – heating pipes and electrical cables, it is recommended to place them in a special corrugation. For laying communications in the rafters, holes are made.
The insulation is laid very tightly, leaving cavities and gaps is unacceptable. A vapor barrier is laid on top of the mineral wool, which is attached to the wooden surface with brackets. Lay the film overlap, in no case should it be stretched. If you are not sure how to insulate the attic correctly, it is better to consult with experts in this matter.
After insulation, the walls are sewn up with drywall or OSB boards, the seams are carefully puttied. The result is a perfectly even and smooth surface suitable for finishing. Regarding how the attic differs from the attic, it is a comfortable room for living (example in the photo), which is what needs to be achieved when converting it into a living room.
Access to the attic
Before you make an attic from the attic, you need to provide for the creation of an exit to it. To do this, build a staircase to the attic, or a hatch to the attic. Construction options may be different, but usually they make an internal structure, although you can also build an open staircase from the street that leads to a terrace or balcony (see also: “Tips – how to make a staircase to the roof”).
The simplest options that you can build yourself are a mid-flight or spiral staircase made of wood, which do not take up a lot of space. The safest design is single-march, as its steps are rectangular in shape.
The conversion from the attic to the attic is almost complete. Before proceeding with the interior decoration of the attic, you need to make sure that all the necessary communications have been carried out. The mandatory elements of the dwelling, which will be the attic, include electrical wiring and heating pipes.
In the attic, communications can be carried out under the floor, connecting in the area of the stairs to the main system. However, the layout of these systems depends not only on the layout of this room, but also on the whole house. It is recommended to hide engineering communications in metal corrugated pipes, which fit well into the insulation layer.
How to properly make a vapor barrier and inner crate in the attic, see the video:
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Reconstruction of the attic into an attic at the final stage is a fine finish, namely, the transformation of walls and floors. Here you can fully express your imagination. For example, walls can be covered with wallpaper or decorative plaster. The most successful option for the attic is cladding with clapboard or natural wood; in such a room, wood trim looks organic. If there are protruding rafters, do not be upset – you can make a wonderful decorative element out of them by covering them with stain and varnish.
But when choosing finishing materials, one should not forget that it is impossible to create a significant load in such a room. For this reason, heavy materials are not suitable for attic attic spaces. For the floor, you can make flooring from OSB boards, use mineral wool for insulation, and lay linoleum or laminate on top.
Making an attic from an attic is much easier than building another floor – you don’t have to disassemble the roof for this. It is enough to insulate the inner surface of the roof, create windows and stairs.
The interior decoration completely depends on the taste of the owner, but it is recommended to use light materials, since the attic, converted into an attic, as in the photo, was not originally designed for use as a living space, and may not withstand a heavy load. Read more: “Altering the roof of a house into an attic: methods and methods.”
How to convert an attic into a living space?
July 02, 2022
Often no one lives in a room under the roof, and it serves as a storage room. During the construction of a house in the attic, only rough work is usually performed. Much of the interior space is wasted.
If you competently plan, then the attic can be converted into a beautiful attic, make a cozy room there, a comfortable office. In European countries, such solutions are very popular.
The most difficult thing is to decide to remake the attic. Where to begin?
First, develop a plan. Think about what room you will equip instead of an attic. Will it be a workshop, an office, a bedroom, a nursery.
If you want to make a bedroom or children’s room in the attic, then the sloping walls of the roof must be carefully insulated. When arranging a workshop, office, in addition to insulation in sloping walls, additional windows are made.
Alteration of the attic to the attic. Stages of work:
- Interior space planning.
- Insulation of side walls, floors.
- Interior decoration.
Once you have a plan, make a list of what you need to buy for future repairs.
Designers do not recommend making additional partitions in the attic, as they can visually reduce the room.
The room is left free, insulated and finished. To make the room light, install additional windows. Usually they are equipped in the gables of the building, but in some cases, windows are also mounted in sloping walls.
Insulation option is selected depending on the characteristics and condition of the future attic. If at the construction stage the roof was insulated around the entire perimeter, then there will be much less work.
Most of the heat leaves the attic through the roof. This is the most vulnerable wall, since its thickness is the smallest. Therefore, it is especially important to insulate sloping walls. High-quality thermal insulation reduces heating costs.
When choosing a material for thermal insulation of the floor, it is important to consider the following nuances:
- Effective temperature protection
Most often, mineral wool is used to insulate the attic. For rough flooring choose boards, plywood. They have a small thickness and are ideal for low spaces.
Thermal insulation materials are laid directly in the gaps between floors. First, the surface is lined with vapor barrier material. Then put mineral wool. Thermal insulation is mounted in several layers.
If the cross beams look satisfactory, then the boards are laid on them. If the condition of the crossbars is unsatisfactory, a special crate is made. Draft material is laid on the beams or crate – boards, plywood.
Next, finish the floor. Linoleum is laid, laminate, parquet, tiles are laid.
Roof insulation must be taken seriously and thought through carefully. It is important that the roof protects the attic from the penetration of precipitation, does not allow warm air to go outside.
Attic insulation is carried out in stages:
- Laying a waterproofing sheet. The material is fixed to the rafters with wooden planks.
- Installation of mineral wool or other environmentally friendly insulation. Heat-insulating plates are smeared with special glue and pressed to the surface between the rafters. You can also fix the layers of mineral wool with self-tapping screws or nails. The heat insulator is staggered in several layers. This installation method helps to effectively protect the attic from the penetration of cold winds.
- Vapor barrier unit To ensure that moisture from the outside does not reduce the effectiveness of the thermal insulation material, it is protected with a vapor barrier sheet – a membrane or film.
The material from the rolls is mounted to the rafters using a stapler. Construction adhesive tape is glued to the places of punctures and joints of sheets.
After all work on the insulation of sloping walls is completed, a special crate is made over the rafters. Cross boards are nailed to the beams. Step – 30 cm. Finishing material is mounted on the crate.
Depending on the features of the interior, finishing materials, furniture, and textiles are selected.