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Old 04-13-2008, 09:30 AM   #1
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creating attic storage

I would like to use the space above the rafters in my garage for additional storage. They are for the most part 4' apart. My first thought was to just lay sheets of 3/4 plywood across the top of them but that feels way to flimsy and dangerous.

So should I just hang 2x4s 16" apart on center between them to support the plywood? This doesn't need to look pretty, just be functional.


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Old 04-13-2008, 11:05 AM   #2
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So I take it you have trusses ?
What are you going to put up there, anything heavy ? Trusses aren't really ment to support alot of suspended weight.


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Old 04-13-2008, 01:13 PM   #3
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Yes they are trusses,(a new term to me) and all I would want to do is store camping equipment, christmas stuff and the like up there. It would be nice if I could crawl around on it too. I weigh about 185.

Also I was wondering if in the future, would it be OK to install a drop down ladder?
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Old 04-13-2008, 09:15 PM   #4
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Trusses aren't designed to have load applied to their bottom chord, which is the ceiling of your garage. That's not to say that your garage is going to cave in if you put a christmas tree up there. I would strongly discourage you from adding any significant weight, however. If you start storing a lot of stuff up there, you're adding a lot of live load that those trusses aren't equipped to handle. If they're spaced at 48" on center, they're probably not much stronger than they need to be to support the imposed loads of the house (snow, roofing material, etc). They will certianly handle your weight if you need to go up and walk around. I would also advise against adding framing members to anything but the bottom chord of the trusses...The web members of the trusses all serve very specific function, and should not be modified. 2x4's will deflect under minimal load, and could compromise your sheetrock ceiling anyhow.

If it were me, I'd add some 24" x 96" strips of plywood for walking on, and would limit the plywood added for storage to a minimum. Think light items, and leave the heavy stuff in the basement!

As for drop down stairs, you can certainly add them. You'll need to frame between the trusses to create a solid rough opening for the stairs to fit into.
The code requires that any opening from the garage to any other portion of the house be protected by a listed fire door, or a door that is 1-3/8" thick. You will not find drop down stairs that satisfy this requirement. The reason for this code is that a fire in the garage (fairly common) will easily engulf the entire attic or other portions of the house if the openings aren't fire-resistant. This is also why you are required to sheetrock the wall between the house and the garage, and why you must protect all structural elements that are in the garage and support living space above or adjacent to the garage.
Here's the way to install your stairs and maintain fire protection for your home and family...Although the code doesn't get this prescriptive, this meets the code's intent in my opinion and offers an equivalent level of fire protection:
Use 2x12's to frame in the rough opening. The stairs themselves will tuck into an 8 or 10" thick rough opening. Using the 2x12's will allow you to install a "fire lid" of 3/4" plywood or 1/2" sheetrock (or both)above the stairs on top of the 2x12's. The stairs themselves usually come with 1/4" plywood on their underside to make the installation look clean, but that plywood is not anywhere near thick enough to provide equivalent burn time to 3/4" plywood or sheetrock as required. So, when you reach the top of the stairs, you UNLATCH the fire lid, move it, and enter the attic. It has latches to retain it under the positive pressures of a fire. Barrel bolts, screen door hooks, or anything like that will work. When the stairs are closed you'll never see it, because it is above them when they're folded up.

Last edited by Termite; 04-13-2008 at 09:19 PM.
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