What is an Attic Loft?

Dan Cavallari

An attic loft, also known as a loft conversion, is a space on the highest floor of a house or barn that is converted into a living area or storage space. The difference between a regular attic and a loft is that the attic runs the entire length of the house, while a loft generally only covers the area of a few rooms. The loft is sometimes open at one end, meaning lower floors can be seen from the loft because no obstructions exist between them. An attic loft can also refer to a renovated attic space that is usable as a bedroom or living area.

Skylight windows may be featured in an attic loft.
Skylight windows may be featured in an attic loft.

The space available in an attic loft is often limited due to peaked roofs. The ceilings of the attic loft slope with the peaked roof, meaning the closer one gets to the outside walls, the less functional the space becomes because overhead clearance is limited. Bedrooms are commonly put in attic loft spaces because head room is less important in a room in which the inhabitants will not be moving around much. Living areas are possible in other attic lofts with much higher ceilings.

Attic lofts tend to have slanted ceilings and walls because of peaked roofs.
Attic lofts tend to have slanted ceilings and walls because of peaked roofs.

Some homes are built with intended loft spaces. These spaces are usually larger and have more overhead clearance to allow for day to day functions. The attic loft may be completely enclosed and can be reached by stairway, or the loft may be open at one end with a balcony to act as a border. Some attic lofts are simply intended to be storage areas, much like a regular attic, and in many cases, an attic and a loft are indistinguishable.

Renovating an attic into a loft space is not as easy as it may sound. Most ceilings in a house are only meant to bear the load of the structural supports above, so what will be the floor of the loft will have to be reinforced. Ventilation and fire safety are also concerns, and windows or other ventilation systems many need to be installed before the loft can be used for day to day purposes. If insulation is present in the attic, it may have to be removed or otherwise covered, especially if it is asbestos insulation. This process can be long and involved, and is probably best left up to professionals. A staircase will also need to be built, which may require special building permits and certainly an in-depth knowledge of carpentry techniques.

A top-hinged roof window allows for escape from an attic loft in case of emergency.
A top-hinged roof window allows for escape from an attic loft in case of emergency.

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