The attic is like a magical space that is often overlooked as a useable room. It tends to be the keeper of all things dusty and obsolete, from moth-eaten winter coats to fragile pictures of great-great-Grandma. Attic truss spans can be a heap bump hazard but they can also be just the things you need to store objects off the floor and out of the way.
Of course, safety is key when planning how best to use the area in your roof, so be sure to take a light up there with you and examine in detail things like the size, the materials used in construction, any pests that need to be eradicated, the kind of ventilation, natural light if any, and how you will actually get in.
Inspect your attic truss spans for their shape and size and you could even take photos with your digital camera so that you can determine, without making unnecessary supply trips, what you can best use them for.
For Alternative Storage
Measure your roof attic truss spans from center to center and measure the distance between the walls supporting them. You will need to determine the trusses’ weight-bearing capacity, or avoid storing heavy items in the attic; the latter being the best-advised alternative. Take note also of the joists and their spacing.
Take your calculations and notes along with you to your lumberyard. Using special tables called span charts, you will be able to work out if your attic truss spans need reinforcement to enable them to carry the weight of the items you want to store in the attic. You can also consider in advance, the storage requirements you have.
For instance, if you want to store old clothes up there, you can use a number of boxes or containers. If you want to keep furniture that is not in use, you will need to ensure that enough space exists for the actual dimensions of the items.
It is important that you decide on your needs before tackling any reinforcements. Keep in mind that you must not cut trusses, as they are the load-bearers for your house roof.
Making Use Of
To make best use of your attic truss spans, you can make a floor out of plywood and install it using screws, nails or adhesives, or a combination. If your entry point or hatch is not sufficiently large to carry sheets of plywood through, then you can alternatively use tongue and groove sheets.
Obviously, you will have to work around the braces and supports because these cannot be cut. Take extreme caution with electrical wiring that exists in your attic and divert them to an area where they will not be tripped over or accidentally cut in the process of laying the floor.
Access to the Attic
Aside from the attic truss spans, you also need to consider how you will access the roof space, especially if you will be storing heavier items there. A removable cut-out might be advised or a hatch that folds right back could be a better idea.
Will you use a removable ladder or a pull-down one? Should it be a wood ladder or an aluminum one? The ladder needs to be capable of carrying whatever weight you intend storing in the attic and should also not present a hazard while in use.
Another important consideration in an attic is lighting. Installing a skylight is a whole different project altogether but for the time being, electrical lights are called for. It is always vital to employ the services of a qualified electrician to do this kind of work.
He will know the necessities regarding minimum clearance heights, proximity to combustible materials and where to locate the switches. Light is essential in such an awkwardly constructed space especially considering how easy it is to bump into the attic truss spans while making use of the storage area.
Any time you feel that a do-it-yourself project may be beyond your capabilities, consult a professional before attempting it. You may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you can do it, but that the advice you receive is invaluable.
Considering the important role your attic truss spans play in the structural soundness of your house, it pays to know what you are doing before causing damage that will be expensive to repair.