Using a sliding ladder or fold-down stairway is the utmost solid route to storage. Suppose you have a small home with a small opening covered by the plywood cover in the ceiling. And mostly, you want to add a stepladder for climbing one floor or another. Why can’t you think of installing a DIY attic ladder?
However, the question arises could you hoist yourself up to do this daunting adventure task?
Or do you need a couple of helping hands for making some tiny hooks hanging over the ladder frame? Absolutely not, right?
Yes, it’s highly possible to install an attic ladder in the existing opening if you learn How to install an attic ladder by yourself step-by-step directions. As the attic always offers a superb storage location, you can easily access a foldable attic ladder anywhere in your small compact home.
Moreover, most attic ladders are retractable and come with a pre-installation kit. So, according to your home condition, you can add or replace an attic ladder and allow more useful, easy access to every corner of your home.
Hereafter this guide will assist you in how do you install an attic ladder by yourself? You will get to learn everything from scratch to final fixing the ladder. So, stay with us if you already pick up the ladder and eagerly waiting for a simple installation.
How To Install Attic Ladders: Tools, materials, and safety gear
As we are going to show you how to replace an attic ladder by yourself to create new access, you need to install the smoothly glides both up and down rigid attic ladder. With this, you also need some handy tools and materials for easy maneuver.
- Circular saw
- Reciprocating saw
- Nail gun
- Drill machine
- Carpenter’s square
- Tape measure
- Folding attic ladder
- 2×6 boards
- 1×4 boards
- Safety goggles
- Dust mask
How To Install An Attic Ladder By Yourself: Step-By-Step
Step 1: Finding a suitable installation location
Look for a potential installation spot. Check the dimensions of both the ceiling and floor where the attic ladder is going to install. Clean both spaces so that there won’t be any air ducts and other electrical equipment lift there. Also, check the swing clearance, landing space on the floor, and ceiling joist.
Before starting the work, you should cover yourself with safety gloves, goggles, and proper PPE to save your body from dust and obstacles.
Step 2: Cutting a hole
Let’s prepare the ceiling first. Select the ceiling which is free of obstacles and has enough room to use the stepladder. First, make a small hole in the center of the location by using a hammer and chisel. Then trace the full cutting lines from the hole and, by using a hand saw, cut the ceiling according to the cutting edges.
Here, make sure cutting lines are parallel to the ceiling joist. But don’t cut any joist and try to cut and remove all the ceiling board in small pieces.
Step 3: Cutting the ceiling joists
After you made an opening in the ceiling, cut 2 pieces of board. The size of 2 boards must be similar to the ceiling joist. The boards also should be longer in size so that they can be nailed in both the ends to the ceiling joists. After measuring, that extra board should be cut out to support the joist.
Now to cut the joist, position these 2 boards nearly 2 feet away from the opening edge as you need to nail the frame in this 2 feet gap. At this point, you can cut the joist but make sure the cutting line should be twice the thickness of the real frame. Because it will help you to install double-size headers on both ends of the joist. So, cut the joist carefully to cut out in even and square (vertical).
Step 4: Framing the installation area
Installing the headers:
To do that, measure the perpendicular distance between the ceiling joints and cut 2 board headers according to the joist size. Then position one header in one opening and, with the hammer, tightly fix the header in between the joists. Make sure the header is 90-degree and drive 3 nails at each end. Then position the second header a bit far away from the first header and repeat this for making the other 3 sides.
Now one frame has been made with the two headers side. In this way, ceiling joists are made for double headers with the other two sides of the frame. It is also called the ceiling frame of the joist.
Installation of stringers:
For installing stringers, measure the length between the cross-beams perpendicular to the headers. Then cut the stringers according to the size and position them to the ceiling openings. The dimension of the frame should be equal to the opening so that it can fix together. After putting the stringers in the headers, use long 1” nails to go through both the cross-beams. You can also use 4” long 20d nails for this purpose. Give a square shape to the stringer and drive 3 nails in the double header. In this way, you can set up the stringers.
Build 2 temporary support boards:
A temporary support board of minimum size 1”x4”x36” should attach at the hinge end of the ladder you will install. Use 4 double-headed nails and screws for attachment so that you can remove them easily after installing the ladder.
Step 5: Positioning the ladder
After installing a temporary support board, now it’s time to unpack the attic ladder and take out or leave the control rod down. As you are going to do yourself, try to maintain maximum safety because you have to work continuously before the installation got finished.
By maintaining that, you carefully place the attic ladder on the strong temporary support area. All the hinges end should rest on the minimum ¼” ledge of temporary support. Now you move to the attic area space and block the ladder tightly with shims. You insert shims in between the attic ladder and headers area at the most opening end so that it can prevent falling down.
So, in this way, an attic ladder temporarily rests on the support boards. Now you open the full attic ladder by turning the control rod 90-degree. Pull the lid counterclockwise so that the ladder gets fully opened until it gets engaged to the floor.
Step 6: Shimming, cutting, squaring, and nailing the attic ladder
For shimming, insert the wooden shims between the frame and attic ladder until it gets a square shape. Ensure the shim is inserted from top to bottom position and cut the extra shims as it can damage the ladder casement. After doing a square, check the frame whether the shim is inside the square or not. If you get it, your square is done.
Now for nailing, use a 1/8” drill and drill the nail positions in the ladder casing. You should not drill in the headers and joist areas, and it should be done in the shims area of the casement. Then nail the attic ladder by using screws carefully. After that, you can remove the shims by trim out the shims.
Step 7: Trimming the ladder legs
It is the final part but one of the most important parts of your installation. For trimming the leg, first, open the ladder fully and unfold the legs. By loosening the screws, you can do this, and once it fully unfolds, then tighten the screw.
Now using a straight edge measurer tape, measure the distance from edge top to bottom of the attic ladder. Mart the points correctly so that after trimming, the legs should not get short.
Now you do trimming according to the trimming line. In the corner, trim ½” perpendicular to the side so that you can add extra plastic feet. After that, unfold the ladder again and check whether any gaps exist between the metal hinges and the feet. And both feet should be even with the floor. If you find that, then that’s all! Remove the temporary support.
You have done the attic ladder installation completely by yourself!
Few tips to follow while installing or replacing attic ladder
- While buying an attic ladder, make sure the ladder can take a heavy load, at least 300 pounds minimum. The ladder also consists of hinges, stringers, treads, flush-panel door, full-length handrail, etc.
- Avoid using the attic ladder before complete installation according to the following instructions.
- As a modification of the ladder is dangerous, you should maintain the exact ceiling height range mentioned in the product’s label or packaging. As the ladder has been designed for a specific ceiling height, try to set up the ladder within that size.
- The ladder should not be installed in the air ducts, metal constructions, cement ceiling, and drop ceiling. However, if you have this type of ceiling construction, don’t go for attic ladder installation. Instead, you should consult with the professionals for further help.
- At the time of installation, make sure you have enough room space to accommodate a full-length ladder when it is extended. A suitable landing space is highly recommended for safe and secure mounting and dismounting.
- While buying, check for any prior damages before installation. Such as you can look for bends or cracks in the metal parts. Or wraps on the wooden attic ladders. Also, check all fasteners and rivets are tightened correctly.
How much does it cost to install attic ladder?
The cost to install an attic ladder depends on many factors. Such as if you are going to install for the first time, it may cost more compare to replacement. Again it depends on the house’s existing conditions, attic ladder opening size, price, finishing touches, materials, etc.
On the other hand, if you want to modify beams, floor trusses, and joists, it may cost more. As the cost impacts all, you may also have to consider labor cost if you can’t do it yourself. Otherwise, you have to modify the structure, remove piping, wiring, and other ducts by yourself before set-up the ladder.
So, considering all of these conditions, first, start with the ladder cost. Generally, all pull-down attic ladder starts from $90 and goes up to $1500 or more. If you like a Spiral attic ladder, it may cost more. Usually, the metal wood mixture or wooden ladder costs $1600-$2000.
Second, you might need to add an extra $300-$400 as a labor cost if you call the professionals for simple installation. If you do it by yourself, you can save this extra cost and enjoy the work.
Attic Ladder Installation Duration
If you are going to install the ladder by yourself, it depends on your expertise of how faster you can work. Again it also depends on the type of installation, like newly added or replacing the ladder. If you are going to do the replacement work, you already have the open hole and frame. Just you have to remove the existing one and insert a new attic ladder. In this case, it shouldn’t take more than 5-6 hours.
However, if you are going to install newly, you have to start by cutting the opening, make a strong frame, and so on. Overall all the work you have to do. So, definitely, it will take some more time to complete the work. But to make sliding attic stairs, it will not exceed 7-8 hours if you are skilled.
Benefits of Pull-down Attic Stairs
- Let’s get to know some unbelievable benefits of having an attic ladder in your home before final investment. Although there are many brands available, the most common thing people started liking is their stylish design and slim, sleek appearance. The reasons are as follows:
- It offers very quick and easy access all the time.
- Ordinary ladders aren’t attached to anything, but all the stairs are attached in pull-down attic ladders. So, it’s safe and risk-free of falling.
- Compare to standard ladders. Attic ladders are super affordable to buy.
- As you can fold and concealed the stairs when not in use, they become entirely invisible in the celling.
- Attic ladders also take less space than traditional ladders. So, if you have a compact apartment, you can absolutely prefer this ladder.
- Finally, though we have given you a big installation process, its installation is quite easy. As the ladders are preassembled, it won’t hassle you.
So, that’s all about how to install an attic ladder by yourself. By this time, you already know the attic ladder is a retractable staircase pulled down from the ceiling. It also provides attic space to the stairways and folds into a celling frame it needed.
So, what does it make sense? It makes our daily up and down trips easier, safer, and faster. It’s also the most convenient, simple, and easy to use.
Thus, we hope you can fix the attic ladder by yourself by following the user manual and our guide. If you are not able to understand the manual, go through with our contents. We hope soon you will get every point and apply yourself while installing the attic ladder.