Attic Storage: Is it a Good Idea?

If you’re like many people, you may be running out of places in your home to keep things. Your closets are full, the kitchen cabinets are stuffed to the gills, the garage is overflowing, and the basement is not a suitable option. So, what area of your home is another possibility for storage? Well, there’s the attic. Yep, the scary, dark, spooky place that Halloween movies are made of. You quite possibly have never been up there. We’ll discuss the pros and cons of using your attic as a storage space, along with types of things you can store there.

unfinished attic with storage items


Advantages of Attic Storage

There are a few benefits to using your attic as storage. The first would be the cost. It’s free! It’s unused space in your home, and, as opposed to off-site storage facilities that charge monthly fees, this storage doesn’t cost you a thing. The second advantage is that your attic is right above you, so you have a storage space that is in close proximity to you for items that want to get more quickly than having to drive a few miles to retrieve them from a storage unit. Items you may want to consider storing in your attic include holiday decorations, luggage, small furniture items, toys, camping gear, and kitchen items like dishes, trays, and utensils. If you want to store things in your attic long-term, it’s best to place them in airtight containers to keep them dry and to prevent them from attracting pests.


Disadvantages of Attic Storage

While your attic may be very close to you, access to the attic may not be all that easy. Obviously, the attic is located above the top floor of your home. And most homes typically have something called a scuttle hole, which is a small cut-out in the ceiling through which the homeowner accesses the attic. The problem with this type of access is the need for a ladder to get yourself up and down. Less often, homes have pulldown ladders that provide a somewhat easier method of accessing the attic. With either access method, you’ll have some difficulty getting your items up and down with ease.


attic ladder


The environment of your attic is another concern. Many attics suffer from extreme swings in temperature and humidity. This is typically because they’re not well insulated and ventilated. You can mitigate this somewhat by taking steps to optimize the storage conditions in your attic. This includes installing additional insulation with the correct R-value and vents under the eaves of your house. You may also want to install an attic fan to draw in fresh air and remove hot air.

Weight is an additional issue. Depending on the construction of your home, your ceiling joists above your highest floor may be strong enough to hold a lot of weight or, in some cases, even you. You may need to reinforce your existing joists to allow for additional weight. Even then, you’ll be limited to storing items that aren’t extremely heavy (and can be carried up a ladder!) Also, if you’ve stuck your head up into your attic, you may notice that all you see are joists and insulation. If you want to use the area for storage, you’ll need to put down plywood strips that span perpendicular to your joists for you to walk on and for your storage materials to rest on.

Another thing that many people don’t realize is that all of the attic isn’t going to be useable storage space. Most attics some ductwork or piping that you’ll have to contend with. Additionally, most homes have pitched roofs, and the small spaces (gables) created by these angles make some of your attic somewhat unusable. A solution to this is to create a three- or four-foot knee-wall which cuts off the angular slope of the eave. This will allow you to store items against the wall for easier access.


attic ductwork


You’ll want to take measures to ensure that your attic is completely protected from rodent intrusion. Make sure your eave vents are covered with hardware cloth that keeps these critters out. Make sure to secure tightly

Lastly, due to the aforementioned environmental conditions, you should refrain from storing any items that are sensitive to temperature and humidity changes. These would include electronics, memorabilia, important documents, paint, and delicate fabrics.


Final Words: Is Attic Storage Worth It?

Depending on what you need to store and your level of access, attic storage may be an option. But for many, the cons outweigh the pros as a suitable storage solution. If you have a crawlspace, read our article on whether crawlspaces make good storage areas.

If you have items that you don’t have room for in your home, a better option is to rent a storage unit from a nearby storage facility. Make sure the facility offers clean, dry storage units and that they’ve installed security measures such as video surveillance, fencing, lighting, and keypad entry. The advantages of a storage facility is that they are affordable and typically charge on a month-to-month basis, so you can always get out of the lease on a fairly short notice.

About the Author: Derek Hines

About the Author: Derek Hines

Digital Marketing Specialist

Derek is originally from the great state of Wisconsin (go Badgers), but is slowly becoming a Pacific Northwesterner. As part of the Digital Marketing team, he writes extensively on storage, moving and life for West Coast Self-Storage, based in Everett, Washington.