Tuesday, April 9, 1996

Attic basics

The house is fairly large (3000 sq ft) for a one-story house. The roof pitch is fairly low, but still with such a large house, there is a lot of space in the attic. Mostly the space is wasted. It's dark, and full of insulation and hard to get around. And why would you want to get around anyway? It gets really hot (really hot -- this is Texas).

Well, despite all that, there are times when you have to be up there. Telephone wiring. Cable wiring. Working on the air conditioning duct work. There is some storage area up there. There are enough times that it would be useful to be easier to get around.

The idea with the attic work was fairly simple, in concept. I wanted to lay down a subfloor over as much of the attic as made sense which would allow me to walk around safely. To do the work, I needed improved lighting. And I wanted to be able to easily upgrade the insulation for the whole house, to reduce the cost of cooling the house during the hot Texas summers. So a floor, lighting, and insulation.

This project went on and on, starting in about 1996 and continuing until 2008 when it was finished. By finished, I mean that

  • I had a window for light, as well as 5 fluorescent shop light fixtures (each with 2 three foot fluorescent light bulbs)
  • The insulation was 18 to 24 inches deep in most places, and included a roof ridge vent for both insulation and ventilation.
  • The A/C duct work was buried in insulation, and protected as necessary.
  • The roof area (underside) was covered with a reflective foil thermal barrier.
  • I had well-defined flooring down on all the areas that had enough headroom to allow standing up.
  • The floor areas were "walled" with foil covered fiberglass insulation board (duct boards) to hold the insulation back.
  • I had electrical outlets at regular intervals
This took so long because I was only working on it on weekends, and then generally only in the morning (since it got really hot as the day went on). There was no real plan -- just a general concept, so it proceeded in fits and starts. Generally, I worked first to put in the lighting, so I could see.

I removed the roof supports that were left by the builders. It's not clear to me if these roof supports had only been meant as temporary bracing while the roof was built, or if they were necessary, but, empirically, I could remove them and not notice a change in the roof. Then I worked on the flooring in an area. The downstairs ceiling is basically 2x8's filled with loose fiberglass insulation. To reinforce the floor, I ran 2x8's perpendicular to the existing 2x8 ceiling joists. Between these new 2x8's I put fiberglass batts, and then covered it with 3/4 inch plywood. Then I put in vertical framing as a wall around the floor, providing support for the roof, separating the non-floored areas from the non-floored area.

This continued from one area to another, extending the floored area, allowing easier work on new areas.

April 1996

Upgrade the duct work from the grey flexible ducts to mylar flexible ducts. $1280.

April 1996