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What is Attic Finishing?

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  • Written By: Mary McMahon
  • Edited By: O. Wallace
  • Last Modified Date: 16 September 2016
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Attic finishing is a type of home improvement which is designed to turn an attic into a usable space, rather than an area for spiders to congregate. A home with a finished attic can fetch a higher price on the real estate market, making attic finishing an appealing option for people who are interested in keeping their property values high, and attic finishing is also a great way to create more space in a house. New parents, for example, might consider finishing their attic rather than relocating to accommodate a new member of the family.

A number of issues need to be considered when finishing an attic. Classically, the roof of the attic is lower than the ceilings in the rest of the house, which can require some careful manipulation of the space to make the attic comfortable to be in. Some people bump out the roof when finishing their attics to create more headroom, although this can add substantially to the cost of an attic finishing project. Ventilation is also a major concern; attics usually do not have enough ventilation for people to be comfortable upstairs on hot days, and an attic finishing project may require the addition of windows, fans, and other ventilation measures.

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The walls and underside of the roof in an attic are classically left minimally finished, which means that an attic finishing will include sealing in the joists and adding insulation. Other issues to consider include dealing with electrical wiring which may be located in the attic, and wiring to bring electricity to the attic. In some homes, heating and cooling systems are installed in the attic to free up room in the rest of the house, and these systems must be accommodated when finishing the attic. Another concern is support for the floor; the floor of an attic may not be designed for regular use, in which case it will be necessary to reinforce it. The final issue is access; most attics are not easy to access because people do not need to enter them regularly, and as a result it may be necessary to extend the remodeling project to a lower floor to create easy attic access.

Depending on the size of the attic and the needs of a household, an attic conversion can be used to create more bedrooms, a playroom, or a home office. Finished attics can also have excellent storage space opportunities, and they can be turned into musical practice rooms, reading rooms, sewing rooms, and so forth. Some people may use such projects to create a more private space for a teenager or family member moving into the home, in which case the project may include plumbing for a bathroom and even the creation of a separate entrance for privacy.

Because attic refinishing can get complicated, it is a good idea to consult a contractor. The contractor can identify issues which may require professional attention, such as running electrical wiring to the attic or reinforcing the floor. Many contractors offer attic remodels as a complete package, or people can ask a contractor to do the major work and do the minor aspects of the project themselves.

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