How to Store Books in the Attic

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So, it’s time to store away your favorite books in the attic. You simply don’t have room for your extensive book collection any more, so what do you do?

The best option for many people would be to store them away in the attic. It’s the default space for storing items you love but don’t use regularly, since it’s easily accessible but still hidden away from any living areas.

In this guide we’ll go over some of the best ways to store your books in tha attic, along with some tips and tricks to keep your prized novels safe, dry, and preserved for years to come.

1. Be aware of moisture levels

Before even considering moving your precious literary cargo into storage, you’re going to need to seal up any leaks or cracks in your attic. This is for temperature control, weather control, and most importantly moisture control. If moisture gets into or on your books, it will wreak havoc in all sorts of ways. It can even get to the point of disintegrating the paper and ruining the words, if too much water is involved, and even the slightest amount of moisture is a serious issue.

The biggest issue with any amount of moisture is mold. Mold forms in any wet, damp environments, and this can spell disaster for a book lover. Try to keep the attic dry, clean, and moisture-free to prevent these issues from happening once you decide to house your books in the attic.

Have the moisture levels measured

If you’re the slightest in doubt of the conditions on the attic, you should call a professional and have them measure the levels of moisture on your attic. Moisture could cause tons of problems, especially if you’re unaware of its existence over a longer period of time. You can also get a moisture meter and have it set up – that way you can always keep track of the conditions yourself.

2. Keep pests under control

The next thing you need to worry about is creepy pests, who could eat away at your fragile books. The three main pests you would need to worry about are bugs, birds, and rodents. As an example, mice love to chew and gnaw through things, so they will likely eat away at and tear books if they get their paws and teeth on them. They will also leave droppings around, which breed bacteria and attract other pests, and they may try to eat through containers and boxes.

Bugs will invade any tiny space they can get through and demolish your books. Bug infestations are not a good thing at all to have, and they will eat holes in books and lay eggs, which breeds even more disastrous insects.

Birds may find their way into your attic through a broken window or a ruined seal, and they’ll make nests and leave mountains of droppings over longer periods of time. The droppings are what you should worry the most about. They don’t just contain lots of bacteria, but also acids that could damage most surfaces over time.

Therefore, before you store your books, and after sealing the attic, put out some traps for the mice, and spray the attic for bugs. Take every measure you can to ensure that the attic is pest-free before you store your books up there.

A healthy indoor climate is also quite important, so hence we always refer to advice #1 regarding the moisture levels.

3. Avoid cardboard boxes

Airtight plastic storage box
An airtight storage box is a safe bet when storing books in an attic.

When considering what to put your books in, you should shy away from cardboard boxes. Although cardboard boxes are generally considered a good storage box for your books, they are prone to the elements and therefore highly receptive for moisture and water.

While your attic may be water and pest-free, should a time come where those get reintroduced, cardboard boxes will not properly protect your books.

Try alternatives, such as plastic totes, to seal away your literature. Plastic boxes are for most parts waterproof, so even if a bit of moisture gets in the attic, it would not get to your books easily. As says, however, make sure you don’t use plastic containers that have had food in them. This can attract many varieties of pests, and it is best to be avoided.

Your best option, when going for plastic boxes, is to pick those with airtight seals and then add a few bags of silica gel desiccant to collect any excess moisture.

We recommend these plastic boxes for book storage in an attic:

4. Keep the temperature under control

Make sure to properly insulate your attic so that it does not get too hot or too cold. Extreme temperatures can crack the binding on books and weather away at the glue that holds many types of books together.

A controlled temperature makes it easier to store a lot of general items in an attic.

Set up a thermometer in your attic, perhaps one that’s connected with your smartphone or smart home system, in order to ensure that your books aren’t stored under conditions that are either too hot or cold.

5. Elevate books from floors and keep away from exterior walls

When choosing your books’ temporary attic home, make sure you choose their placements wisely. It is always recommended to elevate books off the ground in case of a flood or nasty infestation. Store them off the floor on a shelf or similar compartment to ensure that they will always be out of harm’s way.

Additionally, make sure the containers are not right against the wall, as outside temperatures and weather could affect the books inside.

6. Keep similarly sized books together

Keep books of the same shape and size together when you store them. This will not only prevent waste of space, but also keep their shapes intact.

If you do have to pack books of different shapes and sizes together, make sure the biggest and heaviest books are always packed at the bottom.

The U.S. National Archives recommends that you store small to medium-sized books in an upright position, just like you do in a book shelf, while large books should be stored flat to preserve their shape.

7. Be careful with the wrapping

When you store your books, it is common to want to wrap them for an added layer of protection. However, take caution when you do this because some materials are not suited for wrapping books.

For instance, plastic wrap should not be used to wrap books, as it can attract moisture and promote mold growth.

Alternatively, aluminum foil should not be used, because it could attract damaging amounts of heat.

Instead, use paper-based materials such as paper towels, because they will protect your books from dust while absorbing any moisture that could come into the container to harm your books.

You can also add bubble wrap for impact protection, but only if you’ve used paper towels or something similar first, to keep out moisture.

Wrapping your books will also keep them from sticking together and messing up the covers, as mentioned in