Should You Build an Attic or Loft?

People tend to refer to attics as lofts and vice versa, but they are really not the same thing. You might even hear some people call one of these a “sky parlor.” What are the differences between an attic and a loft, and what purpose do they serve?

An attic is a space found right below the roof of a house or building, while a traditional loft is a near-roof space in a building. Lofts are still within the typical living space. Both attics and lofts are usually used for storage but can also be used as living spaces.

This article will explore the differences between attics and lofts and how to make the best use of them.

attic and loft

Is an Attic and a Loft the Same Thing?

It is easy to see why people get confused between attics and lofts since they are very similar and are primarily used in the same way. But are attics and lofts the same thing?

Attics and lofts are not the same, even if they seem to be. You can find an attic underneath the pitched roof of a house, while a loft tends to sit just below roof level and be more open to the rooms nearby.

Not all homes have pitched roofs, so if there is an attic in it, some people might feel justified in calling it a loft. But it really is not. You could also theoretically have a building with a pitched roof and call the loft an attic!

Seems confusing, but it often comes down to what type of dwelling we are talking about. Homes tend to have attics, while other buildings tend to have lofts. Homes with flat roofs or less angled roof structures may have lofts as well.

Attics and Lofts Explained

“Attic” and “loft” are terms used to describe similar spaces inside homes and buildings. Most homes are built with attics, and not all structures have lofts. Older buildings were usually made with a loft mainly intended for storage, but it is often used in other ways as well.

Even though attics and lofts are alike in many ways, key differences clearly set them apart.



Most homes have pitched roofs for both style and practicality. Pitched roofs help channel water into gutters to avoid water damage to the structure. Attics serve as added insulation and protection for the rest of the house.

Most people have always taken advantage of this “extra” space to store things they do not use, such as old furniture or various items in boxes.

However, some people also use the space as attic bedrooms or rooms for other purposes such as painting or even a gym. Some attics have stairs leading to them while others have ladders which can be dangerous. Loft ladders can also present a hazard.

Attics usually run the length and width of the entire structure but do not necessarily have to. Some attics are only built over a few rooms below.



A loft is typically a space just below the attic level. Most often, people use lofts for storage. For example, the person or people in charge of the building could keep maintenance items safely stored in the loft.

Years ago, most people would have found it strange to turn a loft into a living space, but that has now become a stylish thing to do. There is no reason why you can’t enjoy a cozy loft apartment. Sometimes, people will refer to an attic that has been converted into an extra bedroom or another type of room as a loft.

Differences Between an Attic and a Loft

The most obvious difference between an attic and a loft is where it happens to be. A house has an attic, and a building has a loft, even though people can and do use these terms interchangeably. Here are other differences you might not know about:


While no rule dictates how big or small an attic or loft has to be, attics tend to be bigger. Usually, an attic takes up the entire space above a dwelling, but a loft is only a portion of the area above a building.

There are exceptions in both cases. For example, a loft in a barn is often constructed bigger than the ground floor below it to store more hay.


Since an attic is part of a home and one of its purposes is to protect the house from water and other elements, attic insulation tends to be sturdier.

Lofts are usually built just for storage, even if that purpose changes later on, so insulation is often not a part of the plan. This means that turning an attic into a living space is more straightforward than doing so with a loft.

Common Uses for Attics and Lofts

How you use an attic or a loft might seem intuitive to some people, but there are many wonderful things that you can do with these spaces you might not have considered. Most people either use attics and lofts for storage or turn them into living spaces.


By far, the most prominent use that attics and lofts get is as storage spaces. It is convenient to put things you are no longer using or might want to get rid of later on in an attic or loft. If you pack things neatly into boxes and use the space as efficiently as possible, you can store away a surprising amount of items, making more room available on the ground floor.

Bedroom or Recreational Room

Here is where you can get creative with an attic or loft: You can easily turn them into a bedroom by putting a bed in there if there is enough insulation or the weather is not extreme.

But why stop there? You can turn an attic or loft into a workspace, a “man cave,” a place to simply relax and listen to music, or many other creative types of rooms as well.

Conclusion – Attic or Loft?

Both attics and lofts are perfect for storage but can be used as living quarters as well. However, an attic is better suited for this. Still, you can get creative with both attics and lofts and turn them into any kind of room you want them to be.