Are you planning to install a pulldown attic ladder yourself? But start to worry about how to overcome challenges of DIY installation?

Don’t give up so quickly.

You can successfully get the job done yourself. But you need proper guidelines and some tricks to apply.

This article is all about how to install an attic ladder by yourself.

It’ll cover the guidelines for-

  • Attic ladder first time installation (part A)
  • Attic ladder replacement (part B)

Stay along.

Although it’s a DIY installation, removing the old ladder and installing the new one is obviously a two-person job.

 

How to Install an Attic Ladder by Yourself – Before You Get Started

Are You Able To Get The Job Done Yourself?

The first thing to consider for DIY attic access ladder installation is whether you’re able to install yourself or not. For a successful and safe installation, you need some basic knowledge for sawing, squaring and aligning. If you’re not able to do these, you should call a professional to install this product.

Have You Chosen The Right Ladder To Meet Your Needs?

Choose the right ladder based on materials, length, designs that best suits your home and budget.

Top-Tips for selecting the right retractable attic ladder:

Attic Ladder Installation Cost

The cost of installing a pulldown attic stair depends on many factors, such as how your house is configured, the existing conditions of your attic opening, attic ladder prices, etc.

The cost will increase if you need to make attic opening for first time installation. If it require any modification to beams, attic floor trusses or joists etc. the cost will increase.

However, the average cost may vary from $300 to $400 including ladder price, for simple installation. And if you need to take professional help, the cost may increase up to $700, including labor charge and parts price.

The labor charge for a professional is $60 per hour. So, the average labor charge for a professional is $240 per project.

Attic Ladder Installation Duration

It depends on your skill and how much work do you need to do for the installation. For example, if you need to cut the opening hole and framing it, you’ll require much time. For replacing the old one, if you need to remove the existing frame and add a new one, ultimately, you’ll need more time to complete the process.

However, our estimated time is about two to six hours.

Part A

How to Install an Attic Ladder by Yourself – First-Time Installation

Are you installing the attic stairs for the first time?

If your answer is “YES,” then the following section is written for you

(Skip part A if your home already have an access hatch and you plan to replace your old one)

First, Find a Suitable Location for Installation

The following guidelines will help you.

Step 1: Find a spot which is free from any obstacles in the ceiling.

To locate the best spot for installation go into the attic area. Choose a ceiling spot free from obstructions such as additional beams, pipelines, electric lines, or any joists. You shouldn’t cut any of these elements without prior consultations with a local building inspector or architect.

Step 2: Find a ceiling spot which is big enough to carry out the installation

Make sure the spot in the ceiling is large enough to allow proper installation. Also, check the swing clearance for the proper use of the ladder.

Step 3: Check the floor-ceiling height 

The recommended ceiling height range is described on the packaging. Make sure the length of the ladder is perfect for your ceiling height, and its both legs rest on the floor correctly. You shouldn’t install this product if your ceiling height doesn’t match with the described label. 

Step 4: Check the floor area and landing space in the attic

Check the floor area where your ladder will rest after you open or extend it. Ensure there is enough room for your movement while you’ll climb up or down with items/ boxes/ carton.

Also consider the attic area where you’ll land once you reach. There should have ample space to get off the ladder once you reach the attic space.

Step 5: Find a spot which is big enough to carry out the installation

The area on the floor or under the ceiling should be large enough to put a step ladder and carry out the installation process. It should be spacious so that you can move easily.

Second, Cut a Hole in the Ceiling

Step 1: Remove the furniture (if any) from your work area. Remove pets and children to a safe distance.

Step 2: Wear PPE- gloves, dust mask, and safety goggles.

Step 3: Make a small initial hole at the center of your selected ceiling spot. You’ll need a chisel and hammer to do the jobs.

Step 4: Enlarge this hole by using a hand saw.

Step 5: At the attic opening, mark the cutting lines on the ceiling.

Step 6: Cut out according to the traces lines and carefully remove the parts. 

Third, Frame the Installation Opening

Step 1: Perpendicularly measure the distance between the ceiling joists where you cut the hole.

Step 2: Cut two boards to the measured length. They should be used as headers. 

Step 3: At both ends of the openings positions these two boards. Align them maintaining 90-degree angle to the joists. They will acts as headers. Ensure that they fit tightly between the joists.

Step 4: Drive at least three nails at each end of each header to attach them to the joists.

Step 5: The two headers act as the two sides of the frame, whereas the ceiling joists will work as the other two sides.

Step 6: Recheck the measurements of the opening so that you can but the right size ladder.

 

Once you’ve finished the access opening cut, go to the final steps (part C) described below.

Part B

How to Install an Attic Ladder by Yourself – Old Ladder Replacement

Are you planning to replace the attic stairs?

If your reply is “YES”, the following section, “how to replace an attic ladder (part B) is for you.

When it comes to replacing your existing pulldown ladder, there are some tasks you need to go ahead before starting the installation process.

Step 1: First, measure the dimensions of your old or existing ladder to determine the right attic ladder sizes that the new one needs to be.

How To Measure For Attic Ladder

Most retractable attic stairs come with a standard width of 22.5 inches and a length of 54 inches.

But for replacing your old one, you have to measure the rough opening that you already have. However, it’s simple to measure for the attic.

You’ll need a stepladder and tape measure.

First, if you feel your old attic stair is strong enough, you can expand the ladder to stand on to take the measurement. Otherwise, stand on a stepladder underneath the attic door. Of course, you need to close the attic door fully.

Second, measure the width of your attic opening. For this, place a tape measure at the left side of the attic opening and stretch the tape over to the right side. You should place it outside of the actual ladder frame. Note down the reading.

Third, measure your attic opening length. Place the tape measure to the rear end of the opening and stretch the other end up to the front edge of the door. Note down the measurement.

Finally, place one end of tape measure flush with the ceiling beside the ladder. Drop the other end of the tape to the ground. Note down this reading, which is the floor to ceiling height.

Step 2: Measures the existing opening and the distance from the ceiling to the floor.

Step 3: Remove your old ladder. Depending on how badly damaged the existing one is, you have to remove other components such as trim or hardware around the existing opening. 

Step 4: Inspect that the hatch is in good condition. 

Step 5: Double-check the measurements of the opening so that you can purchase the correct size ladder.

Once you’ve removed the old one, you’re ready to get started the final steps (part C).

Part C

How to Install an Attic Ladder by Yourself – The Final Stages

So, you’ve successfully done the steps by following part A or part B?

Great!

Then, proceed to the final steps.

Step1: Unpack the new ladder. But don’t remove the tie that securely holds the stairs together.

Step 2: This stage involves two persons- one should stay below while the other person will go into the attic.

Step 3: Most of the models come fully assembled. Inspect all the parts carefully.

Step 4: According to the manufacturer’s instructions, attach two temporary support boards to each header end of the opening.

Step 5: By following the instructions, attach the pull cord to the attic door.

Step 6: Lift the ladder through the access hatch and rest it on the support boards. You’ll need a people to help you to lift the ladder. Never put any weight on the ladder until you completely install it.

Step 7: Slide the ladder in the hatch to center it. Temporarily secure the hinge side. Attach the back header boards by screwing at least two screws. 

Step 8: With the help of other person standing below carefully open the ladder door. Use the pulling cord or control rod to open the door. But don’t untie the stairs at this stage.

Step 9: Check the attic door opens and closes freely without facing any interference. If not, from above the ladder, measure the diagonal dimensions of the opening to check it’s square. If they aren’t, adjust the frame to the corners by adding shims. To hold the shims in place, drive screws through them.

Step 10: According to the manufacturer’s instructions, complete the installation process by drilling holes and screwing where needed.

Step 11: Detach the temporary support boards and trim the tops of shims (if any) that extend above the frame.

Step 12:  Remove the tie holding the stairs and unfold its legs. When fully extended, the ladder end correctly touches the ground, and there should have to gaps between the hinges. If not, you need to trim the excess length of the legs away from the ladder by using a saw. 

Step 13: Add the shoes or feet to the ladder legs (if applicable) by following the instructions.

Step 14: To avoid energy loss and prevent access of pests, insulate around the attic opening. You can also use attic stair insulation cover to seal off the attic entryway.

Congratulations!

Installation is successfully complete!

Ohh….don’t forget to gather all the necessary tools and supplies.

Conclusion

So, are you ready?

Stop!

Carefully read all the warning notes for learning the important safety cautions.

&

Proceed according to the instructions explained in the manual to assure safe installation.

That’s it.

Thanks for reading our article on how to install an attic ladder by yourself.

George

Hi! This is George Gantt. I’ve completed a Diploma in Architectural engineering. After completing the diploma, I have spent 10+ years as an Architect in the construction field. To continue my love in this field and share my experiences, I’ve created this website for our valuable readers.

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