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Old 01-29-2009, 02:29 AM   #1
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attic storage


I need to move some storage up to my attic, where my sense is that I would be OK spreading a single layer of not too dense/heavy storage atop a series of hollow-core doors laid onto the 2x4s that cover most of the area, presumably to hold up the ceiling below. It would seem unlikely to have any effect on the ceiling below, but ...maybe my "sense" here is non-sense, or at least I am being insensitive to commonly known limits to such deployment: Is there an accepted pounds per square foot /yard rule of thumb on this? Do distribution patterns make any difference? Should this be reckoned by individual area, depending upon its proximity to larger support beams?

In case it's not already clear, I am a complete newcomer to this and would sooner err in the direction of caution, yet yearn for the space relief distributing some of the storage upward would bring. The current storage underneath has to be evacuated for digging out, and there is no good outdoor shed space due to steep terrain.

QuESTIONS:
Should I not be doing this at all?
Or are there certain areas -- measured in distances from the main joists? -- where I could place storage, up to a certain amount, and others that should bear less or no additional weight?
And: Could I do this for awhile (roughly how long?), say until I get it together to get some 2x12s screwed into the heavier support beams, as someone more knowledgeable than me guessed might be best?
Need I consider putting in a complete floor? that would seem to weigh even more, but could be better distributed, though doubtless more expensive. I just want cheap, temporary (or better yet, non-temporary) storage while I dig out more of the basement, which I first need to empty. There is a temptingly large area to spread things out, but might there be a total weight that I'd need to stay beneath? Or weight per area formula? I could weigh and measure everything that goes up there.

The attic is not very tall -- I must crouch to move about -- and it is crisscrossed with diagonal supports between the roof and "floor", which is basically a sea of pink insulation between networks of 2x4s, bisected by a central beam wall that extends only through the back half of the house, above hallways, bedrooms and bathrooms). There is a platform built near the floor opening that has had a fairly heavy load on it for 5 years without any sign of impact on the ceiling below, but I suspect that is becase it is tied into the main beam. The house was rebuilt in 1989 after the 1989 earthquake, which wrecked the house but brought in its wake a super-strong foundation in the rebuild.

I am only envisioning putting stuff in the back half of the attic, where the portal from the walk-in closet below it is located. The living room in the middle front has an arched ceiling so the attic is very limited in the front half.

Someone I asked who had seen my house (a ranch roughly 30 feet wide by 60 feet long) said that as long as I kept things near the main weight-bearing beams (basically, that amounts to just one wall in the center, since the ones at the edges have very low clearance), I should be OK. He said maybe screwing a couple of long 2x12s into the main weight-bearing beams at the edges and the middle would be best, and could thus expand the available safe storage space, more securely. I'm not sure, though, how long a board can be passed through the 28 by 20 ceiling opening I use to climb up to the attic through. I was unable to get a 32" regular height door up there on an angle through the 34" diagonal of the opening because of door's height and the angles of overhanging supports, but I was able to get a 28" wide door of the same height up there because it could go through on a less impeded angle. So at least seven feet long is OK for boards. I have some 10- and 12-footers I plan to pick up Thursday.

My thinking was that doors are fairly light themselves, they distribute weight fairly broadly, and, ok, I already have them ready to go up there (there is one up there already and I can crawl on it with no apparent effect below; I weigh 195).

I'm likely to be the only person who ever goes up there, I am very careful as I move about, and it feels like I can put down door-platforms without a problem on the smaller boards holding up the ceiling. But what do I know? Not enough.

Also, IF it is OK to store stuff there, would standard copy paper boxes full of books or paper, stacked no more than one high, be ok, or would there be an advised limit on how many of those I could put on a single door? The other stuff is mostly clothing, luggage, coolers, and other fairly light stuff.

Thanks for reading all of that, and of course for any ideas and warnings.

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Old 01-29-2009, 05:12 AM   #2
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attic storage


From the description, it sounds like you have a truss system. A 2x4 floor joist is not suited to too much, if any weight. Maybe foam pillows and stuffed animals.
Ron

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Old 01-29-2009, 08:02 AM   #3
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attic storage


Measure the beams, if they are 2x4 then you have a truss system as Ron said - very light storage

Earthquake - CA area?
Any extra weight could have a bad impact in case of another earthquake.
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