Renovation essentials for upgrading your attic

If an upgraded attic is in your plans, these expert tips will help you create a comfortable and dry attic space.

Renovation essentials for upgrading your attic

Insulate to save money

  • If you want your attic to be an extra heated room, you have to insulate the ceiling of that part of the attic.
  • Wear a hard hat to protect yourself from protruding roofing nails and staple the paper flanges of the batt facing to the front edges of the rafters.
  • Work from the top down, and leave a five centimetre gap between the insulation and the roof sheathing.
  • A surprising amount of heat is lost through the access hatch into an attic. For an attic stairway, glue rigid insulation board to the back of the door and fill the area under the steps with loose-fill insulation.
  • If there's a simple push-up access panel, glue rigid foam insulation to it's back.

Opening the hatch

  • If you have a simple hatch leading to the attic, you'll have to haul a ladder inside every time you need to get something out of storage.
  • If you use your attic often, consider having a hatch with a pull-down ladder installed.
  • If your ceiling opening is at least 55 by 65 centimetres and the ceiling height 2.5 to 2.75 metre, a pull-down unit will fit.

Making an attic floor

Installing a rough floor in an attic isn't very difficult, just follow these steps:

  • First, measure your access hatch and choose boards that will fit through it. One option that will fit most access openings is to have a home centre cut sheets of one centimetre plywood into strips 2.5 metres long and 40 centimetres wide.
  • You may not need to cut the pieces to exact lengths, since a storage floor doesn't necessarily cover the entire attic.
  • Board ends need the support of a joist, which means that butted ends must share a joist. So if you're laying two or more boards in a row, make sure they meet in the middle of a joist.
  • Attach boards to joists with screws, pounding in nails might damage the ceiling below.

Exterior flashing for drier attics

  • Flashing is used to bridge the gap between roofing and siding, which may expand and contract at different rates or separate as the house settles.
  • The most common materials for flashing are copper, galvanized steel and aluminum.
  • Neoprene collars are used for flashing around vents on the roof.
  • Metal flashing comes in sheets, rolls or preformed designs for drip edges, window and door drip caps.
  • Flashing has to be done correctly to work properly, so leave it to the professionals.
  • Small holes or gaps can be temporarily fixed with roofing cement, but they are a sign that the metal is wearing out and needs replacing.
  • Hire an experienced roofing contractor to inspect and repair or replace the flashing on your roof.

Attics can be anything, from storage spaces to entire bedrooms, but they also need special care and attention. With the right insulation, flashing, and flooring, your attic could be perfect for whatever you have planned.

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