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storage shed

Weatherproof Outdoor Storage: Choosing a Storage Shed for Extra Space and Protection of Your Belongings

I need an outdoor storage space that is weatherproof and low maintenance to store lawn and garden equipment and bicycles. Do you have any suggestions?

Our Answer

Homeowners are always looking for more storage space in and around the house, especially weatherproof outdoor storage. Often items like lawn mowers, power tools and pesticides are often kept in the garage, and wind up taking the space where the car should reside. Not only do they clutter the garage, but they can be especially hazardous to curious children who can get hurt by sharp tools or dangerous chemicals in their reach.

The good news is that there's a whole new generation of prefabricated sheds that are durable, lockable and more inexpensive and appealing than their predecessors. People don't have to be stuck with wood sheds that constantly need to be painted or treated for termites, or metal sheds that rust and warp over time. High-quality plastic sheds can be easily assembled and will both store and protect your belongings.

When selecting a weatherproof outdoor storage shed, select one constructed with steel-reinforced plastic, which is stronger and durable enough to protect your belongings from outdoor elements. Look for sheds with high-pitched roofs, allowing quick drainage of rain and snow, and special slip-resistant flooring helps keep homeowners safe. Screen vents and skylights allow for airflow while keeping pests out.

Outdoor storage sheds may also come with windows and lights so that it's easy to find things in the shed any time you need them. And some are also expandable so they can get bigger as your storage needs expand.  One tip: make sure you measure the area where you plan to put your weatherproof outdoor storage shed. The last thing you want is to get the shed home and then realize that it's too big to fit in the designated spot!

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attic insulation, floor

What’s the Best Way to Add Attic Insulation to a Floored Attic?

Hi Money Pit!  I have a pine board floor in my attic.  The attic has a walk-up staircase and 2x10 joists, so it's meant to store lots of stuff.  The old attic insulation is minimal, probably wool, but in fair condition.  I would like to add more insulation, either batts or blown-in.  I'm considering removing the flooring and adding 2x4s across, but I think that would mean I have to do blown-in insulation.  I prefer batts because it would allow me to do the attic in stages without having to rent a machine several times. The flooring will of course be put back after.  What do you recommend?

Our Answer

You're wise to tackle this home improvement project. Attics offer the greatest potential for home energy savings, and also happen to be the easiest area to improve.

Whichever insulation material you choose for this space, make sure to maintain proper attic ventilation. It'll protect insulation from the dampness of wintertime condensation, which can cut insulating power by one third and introduce a host of structure-threatening moisture problems.

Now, in terms of your specific project, you have the right idea: You have to resist the urge to overstuff those 2x10 bays with insulation.  Insulation works on the principle of trapped air, so if a space is too compressed or overstuffed, the insulation benefits are reduced or even eliminated. You asked about batts versus blown-in insulation, but I recommend a third option: spray foam insulation.  

I insulated my own (older) home with spray-foam insulation recently, and it drastically decreased my monthly utility costs.  Specifically, I used Icynene Spray Foam Insulation, which you can install in one step.  Icynene is formed through mixture of two components—ISO and resin—which react and expand to create tiny bubbles in the plastic matrix that fill and insulate the space.  Check out our Money Pit Guide to Insulation for my complete Icynene story. Good luck, and let us know how it goes!

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Pulldown Attic Stairs – What Are My Options?

My attic stairs are old and rickety, but I don't know what type to replace them with.  Do you recommend any particular brands or materials, such as wood versus steel?  Also, I've noticed complaints in online product reviews about the width of their attic stairs being smaller than advertised.  I have roof trusses set at 2 feet on center, so it sounds like I might have to shim the new stairs to get a good fit.  Do you agree?

Our Answer

As you've discovered, there's a wide variety of attic stairs out there.  I faced your exact dilemma when I needed to replace a shaky set of attic stairs in my own home last year.  The starcase I ultimately chose was the Rainbow Attic Stair.  This is a steel product unlike any other I'd ever seen, with a prefab stairwell and an accordion-like stair that unfolds from it.  I find it to be very heavy and very sturdy, and I utilize my attic more as a reult.  Even more, it's much more efficient than traditional attic stairs. 
One tip if you go with Rainbow: You're going to need a couple of strong friends to help lift it into place!  Rainbow Attic Stairs are heavy.  They're also much more expensive than the tradititional attic staircases you find in home centers.  In my opinion, the investment's worth it if you use your attic stairs with any regularity, or if traditional stairs leave you feeling unsafe. 
As for your roof trusses, they shouldn't be a problem because attic stairs are designed to fit within the two foot uncenter space.  For example, a 22.5'' x 36'' stair is designed to fit exactly in that opening.

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Do I Need to Pull Up My Attic Floor to Insulate?

I want to add insulation beneath my attic floor, but I'd have to pull the attic floor up to do it.  How will this effect my second floor ceiling? I am worried that the ceiling beneath it is protected by the attic floor.

Our Answer

Certainly your attic floor protects people from stepping through the ceiling beneath it, since that ceiling is not designed to hold weight much heavier than the weight of insulation.  But you probably don't need to remove your attic floor to insulate the space.  You could simply lay insulation above the attic floor - unfaced fiberglass batts, specifically, laid over the floor in the areas you wish to insulate.  If you use your attic for storage, consider consolidating those stored items and keeping them in one area of the floor that you leave exposed.  

Now, if you presently have no insulation whatsoever between the attic floor and the second floor ceiling, take that floor up and insulate it - and restrict the workzone to responsible adults who know where they can and can't place weight.  But if you simply need more insulation in your attic, the easiest bet is to put it over the attic floor.

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How to Create Task Lighting

I'm just moving my jewelry-making design work to our bonus room over the garage. I need ideas for lighting for various work areas. The room has one double window facing west. Existing lighting consists of 4 recessed lights and a ceiling light/fan. There is an un-insulated storage space behind one wall. Concern regarding heat & cold for storing supplies such as polymer clay, acrylic paints, etc. Organizational ideas are also welcome. I hope this challenges you and that answers are highly effective. Thanks so much!

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How Can I Create Attic Storage Above Attic Insulation?

I am the new owner of a brand new contractor grade Colonial home, and would like to install a small storage area in the attic, at floor level.  The problem is, in addition of having the standard pink insulation in between the joists, I also have about 16"-20" of blown in white insulation.  One white layer of snow......

I've researched everywhere and everyone seems to have a different opinion on how to go about doing this.  Elevate the floor?  Or just rake the white stuff aside and lay the plywood over the joists?  Please help!  I already have the pull down stairs in one of the bedrooms to go up into the attic.

Our Answer

You unfortunately can't have both, as most attics are not designed as storage spaces. Either you have an attic with the correct amount of insulation - 15 to 20 inches - or you have attic storage if you insist on it at the floor joist level.  Joists are 8 to 10 inches deep, so they only give you that much depth for insulation.  But you need more - and it's not as simple as crushing it, or it won't insul.  Here are my suggestions: Either build an elevated storage platform, or strategically carve out an area of the attic toward the middle, where less insulation is needed, and reduce insulation in the interest of floor-level storage there. 

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Refrigerator in the Garage

Is it safe to store a working refrigerator in the garage where you also keep a riding lawn mower which sometimes holds up to 3 gal of gasoline?

Our Answer

First off, a standard refridgerator is not designed to work in the extreme fluctuations of temperature in the garage.  We know it's common practice to keep a spare fridge or freezer in the garage.  But it's very inefficient and stressful on the compressor.  It's much better to use one specifically designed for the garage - like the Chillerator… from Gladiator by Whirlpool.  I don't see any issue with the lawnmower in the same space.

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Where to Store Fireplace Ashes

My house has a mudroom and it also has a fireplace. Could I keep a little ash can with the ashes for the fireplace in the mudroom?

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Mold in Basement Storage Space: Tips to avoid damage and spread to more mold throughout household

I live in an apartment building where each tenant has a storage space in the basement, and the space next to mine smells really moldy. Is there anything I can do about this?

Our Answer

There is a strong chance that your neighbor's possessions contain mold growth if he or she has laid cardboard boxes or other biodegradable materials directly on the floor or up against the wall. To prevent mold, personal goods should be stored on plastic or metal shelving, away from the wall and up off the floor. There may also be a leak in that area of the basement that is contributing to the spread of household mold.
This isn't your storage area, but the air you breathe while in the basement is being affected by the mold; in addition, up to a third of the air in a small residential building can come from the basement, due to the stack effect (warm air rises).
In a situation like this where mold is suspected in basement storage, it's best to speak to your neighbor as well as to the building management about this problem, to see if you can get the space cleaned up by a mold remediation professional. Any leaks that are present should be repaired, and the basement should be dehumidified (with the relative humidity less than 50%) in the warmer months to prevent the return of mold.

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Garage Storage Strategy

I've decided I'd like to start parking my car inside the garage. Got any tips for organizing and storing all the stuff that's parked in there right now?

Our Answer

Garage storage is something that has to be set up once and then maintained daily by all members of the family. 
Safety for your family and your storage should be the first priority. Make sure chemicals and tools are stored beyond the reach of the younger set. Large storage items should be kept beyond the parking zone, and heavy stuff should be stored at a level that won't lead to injury or property damage if it was to fall.
After you've done the big cleanout and determined what tools, household products and gear get to stay, you'll be able to formulate a garage storage plan to accommodate every category. The only thing remaining on the floor of the garage should be your car, so make smart use of the ready-to-use racks, hooks, shelving systems and cabinets available from home storage retailers.
 
All storage units should be anchored for safe support of heavy items inside, and it's also wise to include a flame-proof cabinet to store such flammables as spray paint, stains and cleansers. For more detailed info, see our  garage safety and storage tips.

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Easy Shelves

I'm looking for easy shelves to install on a wall.  What are the options for good-looking, do-it-yourself easy shelving for a display wall? I'd like to find shelves that are not too industrial or attached to distracting adjustable tracks.

Our Answer

You don't have to look far for easy to install shelves that look great. Several manufacturers make shelves that are attractive.  IKEA offers a collection of attractive, interchangeable shelf components, including the minimalist Bjarnum brackets which can be nicely paired with the Jarpen shelf.
For more options, visit a local Home Depot to find PGM Products' Floating Wall or Corner Shelves and railing-trimmed Gallery Shelf.  For more decorative detail, check out specialty home retailers like Anthropologie, which has a collection of brackets whose detailing is inspired by such architectural icons as the Chrysler Building and Eiffel Tower.
 

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Storing Firewood: Tips to Avoid Keep Wood Fire-ready While Avoiding Termites

How should I be storing and maintaining my firewood supply? I heard that storing wood too close to the house can invite termites. 

Our Answer

When storing firewood, air circulation and safety are the two main things to keep in mind as you stack up and store your fuel supply.
Mixed with moisture and easy access to the structures on your property, a firewood stack can become a termite buffet. What's more, wet wood doesn't burn very efficiently, putting out more steam than heat.
Start by finding a dry, safe home for the firewood, whether in an open air woodshed or free-standing stack.
Keep stored firewood out of contact with the ground using a stack base of treated wood or other moisture resistant material, and avoid stationing the firewood stack against an exterior wall of your home, as a pocket of moisture can develop and damage siding as well as welcome termites and other pests.
Cut firewood to the longest possible length for stacking stability (a single row is best), and pack it snugly but with enough space to allow airflow and discourage the development of mold and mildew. Four feet is about the maximum height your stored firewood stack should reach without side supports, and an even, no-slope arrangement should allow easy access to the firewood, while maintaining stability. Finally, shield the top few layers of ready-to-use firewood with a waterproof cover, adjusting it as you remove the fuel for indoor warmth.

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Laundry Room Organization for Small Spaces: New Accessories from Appliance Manufacturers Help You Make the Most of Laundry Day

My tight-squeeze laundry area has turned into a disorganized mess that I dread, and our family laundry volume shows no sign of letting up. Got any ideas on how I can create the extra space I need to get laundry day back under control?
 

Our Answer

A laundry room often seems like an afterthought in home design, leading to challenges when it's actually time to use this limited but vital space. One way you can free up some of that valuable square footage is to literally go up: many manufacturers now provide stacking framework for their full-size laundry machines, allowing you to enjoy the convenience of those stacked mini-systems without sacrificing the load capacity that you and your family need.
Also look into cool, space-creating additions like laundry storage towers that fit neatly between your machines, and pedestals that build in drawered storage underneath washers and dryers. That zone between your upper cabinets and any work surface is another opportune storage spot for creating space to help better organize laundry rooms.

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Laundry Room Space Saving Solutions: Utilize the Room in Your Tight Laundry Space

My very small laundry room area has turned into a disorganized mess I dread, and our family laundry volume shows no sign of letting up. Can you share any ideas on how I can create the extra space I need to get laundry day back under control?

Our Answer

A laundry room often seems like an afterthought in home design, leading to challenges when it's actually time to use this limited but vital space.
One way you can free up some of that valuable square footage in your small laundry room is to literally go up; many manufacturers now provide stacking framework for their full-size laundry machines, allowing you to enjoy the convenience of those stacked mini-systems without sacrificing the load capacity you and your family need.

For more laundry room space, look into cool, space creating additions like laundry storage towers that fit neatly between your machines, and pedestals that build in drawer storage underneath washers and dryers. That zone in your laundry room between your upper cabinets and any work surface is another opportune laundry room space spot; put it to work with a track-mounted bin system to hold laundry supplies and small-volume sorting.

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Attic Floor Insulation: Adding New Attic Insulation and Floors

We want to add wood flooring up in our attic.  Before doing so, we were going to replace the existing installation.  Are we going to encounter any moisture problems with the new attic installation if we cover it with a wooden floor?  Are there any special precautions we should take?

Our Answer

When flooring an insulated attic, the most common mistake people make is squishing the insulation. Attic insulation works because it traps air.  Compress that insulation under a floor and the air gets pressed out, robbing the insulation of it's efficiency.
In a perfect world, you'd buy insulation just thick enough to fit inside ceiling joists, floor over and be done.  But, here is the kicker.  Most ceiling joists are simply not deep enough to hold the 15 to 20 inches of insulation required by today's energy standards.
I suggest you only floor the portion of the attic you absolutely need for storage.  For the rest, install 15 to 20 inches of insulation and let it rise above the thickness of the joists.  Also, be sure to use unfaced fiberglass batts, and make sure you have enough attic ventilation to avoid moisture build-up in your newly insulated attic floor.