The attic is often not utilized to its full potential. Part of the reason why that’s often the case is because many attics are difficult to access. You may have overlooked that part while building your home so you now have to rectify that.
Installing a ladder can solve the issue of the inaccessible attic. You can get that attic ladder professionally installed or take on the project yourself.
Finding a suitable spot for installation is crucial to this whole project. Follow that by creating an opening for the attic ladder and adding support for its weight. Install the ladder according to the manufacturer’s instructions then add necessary pieces to line it up better with the attic opening.
The prospect of installing an attic ladder on your own can be intimidating. See that it’s not as complicated as it seems by continuing with the rest of this article.
Table of Contents
- Finding a Spot for the Attic Ladder
- Choosing an Attic Ladder
- Installing the Attic Ladder
- Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Safety Equipment
- Step 2: Create the Opening
- Step 3: Create Header Boards
- Step 4: Put the Headers in Position
- Step 5: Add Support Boards
- Step 6: Get the Attic Ladder and Attic Assembly in Position
- Step 7: Secure the Ladder to the Assembly
- Step 8: Check the Alignment of the Ladder
- Step 9: Set the Ladder Length
- Step 10: Clean Up the Spot
- Related Questions
Finding a Spot for the Attic Ladder
Homeowners may have different reasons for wanting an attic ladder. Some may have plans to turn that part of that home into a storage unit or bedroom. Others may be looking to add some insulation there to make their home more comfortable.
Regardless of why you want an attic ladder, the first thing you must do is check if it can be supported. What that means is that you have to find a suitable spot for it. You cannot just pick any spot along the attic floor and start cutting.
To find that spot, you first have to check for potential obstructions. Steer clear of pipes, wires, and other important elements of your home when targeting a spot for the attic ladder.
You should also check the area around where you intend to install the ladder. Check if the ladder can swing out properly and if you have room when you climb off while entering the attic. Ensuring that you have enough room is also important during the installation process.
Hopefully, you’ll find that there is at least one spot suitable for attic ladder installation. Once you’ve pinpointed that spot, you can proceed to the next step.
Choosing an Attic Ladder
The next thing you need to do is find a suitable attic ladder. To help you with your search, we’ll outline the most important factors to consider while shopping for that aforementioned item.
Your attic ladder should be able to bridge the gap from the attic floor to the ground below. Grab a tape measure and a stepladder then start to determine how tall the ladder you’re purchasing should be.
Be as accurate as you can be with the measurement you’re taking. You do not want a ladder that is short of the ground or is too big for the space you have.
The attic ladder obviously needs to be strong enough to support the people in your household. Don’t just settle for a ladder that can support the heaviest person in your family though.
If you intend to use the attic for storage, you’ll need a ladder that can support plenty of weight. Get a ladder with a capacity that’s at least 50 pounds heavier than the heaviest person in your home. You won’t regret getting that added support from your attic ladder.
Certain features can make your attic ladder easier to use. Handrails make climbing easier even if you’re carrying something up into the attic. Ladders set at a flatter angle are also easier to climb.
User-friendly features aren’t essential, but they can be very helpful. Don’t overlook them when you’re shopping for your attic ladder.
Attic ladders are typically made out of aluminum, fiberglass, and wood. All three are viable options, but fiberglass is the superior choice when it comes to strength. It also stands up well to heat and humidity and you want that quality in an attic ladder.
Installing the Attic Ladder
Assuming that you’ve found the ideal spot and purchased your attic ladder, we can now proceed to installation. Follow the steps below to ensure the ladder is secured properly.
Step 1: Gather Your Tools and Safety Equipment
Items you’ll need include chalk, a carpenter’s square, a reciprocating saw, a tape measure, a drill, nails, screws, and a screwdriver. A nail gun would also be ideal, but a hammer can work. You will also need some sheets of wood.
Wearing safety gear is also important. Put on some goggles, gloves, and a mask at the very least.
Step 2: Create the Opening
Refer to the attic ladder’s packaging to see how big the cutout should be. You now have to create that opening. Go to the spot along the ceiling where you’re installing the ladder and drill a hole in the center of it.
Use that hole as a reference point as you draw a larger rectangular outline. The carpenter’s square will help you create an even outline with the chalk. Grab your reciprocating saw and start cutting along the outline you made. Go slowly to ensure you don’t make a mistake while cutting.
Step 3: Create Header Boards
Get back on your stepladder and measure the shorter sides of the opening you made. Note the measurements and start cutting two boards out of wood to that size. You will be using those boards as headers for the attic ladder.
Step 4: Put the Headers in Position
Start placing the headers in position using the nails and the nail gun. Use as many nails as you need to ensure that the headers are secure.
Step 5: Add Support Boards
Support boards will make it easier for you to get the attic ladder in position. You can use spare pieces of wood or plywood cutouts as the support boards.
Attach the support boards to the underside of the ceiling using some nails. You need two support boards to be close to the headers. There should be a quarter-inch gap between the support board and the opening.
Step 6: Get the Attic Ladder and Attic Assembly in Position
At this point, you need to refer to the ladder’s instruction manual to continue with installation. This is also the time when you should get someone to help out. After all, you’ll need someone in the attic and someone on the ground to finish the job.
Don’t untie the ladder yet at this point. It’s easier to install the ladder if it’s tied up. The instructions should tell you how to get the ladder and attic assembly in place. Don’t forget about attaching the pull cord as well.
Step 7: Secure the Ladder to the Assembly
Lift the ladder from below so it can rest on the support boards you installed earlier. The person in the attic must now secure the ladder by screwing it into the assembly. The back header should also be screwed into the ladder at this point.
Step 8: Check the Alignment of the Ladder
Pull the ladder down and check its alignment and how it opens up. You can proceed to the next step up if you see no issues. If there are alignment issues, you can use shims to line up the ladder better. Once the alignment has been fixed, you can finish up with the installation. That means adding any screws or nails that are needed to secure the ladder.
Step 9: Set the Ladder Length
You can now untie the ladder and let its legs extend to the ground. The hope is that the ladder will be a perfect fit and you won’t have to make additional alterations. Don’t worry if the ladder’s a bit too long though because you can trim the legs with your saw.
This is also the point where you should add the feet to the ladder’s legs. Those feet are great for protecting the floor.
Step 10: Clean Up the Spot
The last thing you need to do is to clean up the spot where you installed the ladder. Remove those temporary support boards and trim other excess materials if needed. You should now have a fully functioning attic ladder that you can use whenever you want!
Can You Replace an Existing Attic Ladder?
Yes, replacing an existing attic ladder is possible. Do note however that you may have to replace the attic assembly too if it’s been damaged significantly. It’s also a good idea to measure again and check the opening to see if it can still support a ladder.
How Much Will It Cost to Get an Attic Ladder Professionally Installed?
If you’re just paying for labor, expect the cost of professional attic ladder installation to be at about $250.That’s the low end though. Some projects may require more work due to existing attic damage and cost closer to $450.