Attic shelving will not only make your attic space easier to use but also safer to use. Without some sort of organisation a pile is created at the far end of the attic and it grows until it reaches the trapdoor. The stuff is left in the middle of the attic space, the area under eaves is underutilised because it’s hard to access.
The good thing about attic storage is it doesn’t need to look pretty, it just needs to be practical. Although an organised attic is going to look aesthetically pleasing compared to a messy one.
We will start with storage and shelving products on the market that are specifically for attic spaces or suited for attic spaces, but later we will talk about DIY options. The shape of the attic space rules out a lot of standard shelving that’s available in any store. To properly utilise the attic space we need something that fits into the eaves.
The most basic step to take is to buy some plastic boxes and containers. Go for plastic over cardboard, they’re going to be more expensive but they will last longer and protect whatever goes into them from dampness and other weathering effects they might suffer in the attic. Plastic boxes are also stackable for easy organisation.
There is only major thing you need to look out for when buying boxes, make sure they fit in the space between your rafters. Most modern roof rafters are spaced every 22 or 24 inches (55cm or 60cm) so make sure any box you buy has a width or length dimension smaller than this so you can push the box right into the eaves out of the way. Note: Same rafters have narrower gaps like 18”, so make sure to measure the distance between your rafters before buying anything.
Now that you’ve got your boxes you may run into the first problem trying to utilise that space under the eaves. No floor! If there is no floor and you see just the insulation you can’t leave a box on it, it could fall through to the room below. Even people who have got they’re attic floored when fitting their loft ladder may have only got the useable space in the middle floored so it could be walked on. It makes sense to do this, there isn’t a huge advantage to use expensive flooring in an area you can’t walk on. But we don’t need to use expensive flooring in this area, we just need to support a box.
The most basic way to make that space under the eaves suitable for holding boxes is to lie or fix some planks of wood over the joists, ideally fix the plank in place or they’ll slip off moving the boxes. This will give a surface to leave the boxes on.
These types of shelves are self-contained and require no additional support. Part of the shelf is fixed directly to the rafter and the other end is supported by a strap that drops from the rafter. Another benefit of these shelves is they all fix to the same rafter. Being supported by a strap however means they can’t support more than about 20kg. Hanging shelves will fit into most attics where other types wouldn’t.
These are larger shelves that require more than one mounting rafter. They are much more robust and can carry more weight than the hanging shelves. These are ideal for the bottom shelf. They are slightly harder to install as you need to make sure you get the measurements right so you don’t have an uneven shelf.
These shelves roll into and out of the eave space, this can make accessing the items on the shelf much easier. Boxes can essentially do the same thing as these shelves however if the pitch of your roof is low then rolling shelves can make utilising that space much easier. They are more complicated to install and require a clear walkway to open into.
Of course, if you’re handy with a saw and a screw driver you can put together some simple shelving very easily. As with the off the shelf. Shelves. You can either hang the shelves from the rafters or build them up from the floor, and again the hanging shelf is the easiest to make while the one built up from the floor is much more robust.
Below are links to some of the better how to guides for attic shelving.
Hanging shelves are very straight forward to install
Built from the ground up.
This is the easiest most straightforward guide I’ve found on making ground up shelving for the attic. Attic Storage Shelf Plans
For flat walls at the gable end of the attic there is the option to install a shelling system like smart storage. These shelves are intended for under the stairs but would work well in an attic too.