How good it would have been if everyone on this earth had Victorian spacious bungalows! But alas! Leaving out a specific percentage of privileged people, most of us have modest homes with limited space. So when we have such limited space, we normally strive to make optimum use of it.
What are Pull Down Attic Stairs?
The best aspect about these ladders is that they do not pose to be a hindrance in movement and usage of space in a limited area. These are designed in a way that they give you an access to the attic or loft and hardly take up room. These are fixed in the ceiling and once the work in the attic is done, they can be folded.
When you need to go to the attic, you need to just pull a handle or a dangling pull and Eureka! The stairs are down, giving you an access to the attic. When you pull the stairs down, they cover the length from the ceiling to the floor. These stairs have a support at the end which comes in contact with the floor, giving them an added grip and stability.
- Cordless drill
- Drill bits and screw drive bit
- Cordless screw gun
- 3½ or 4-inch long lag screws
- Air compressor
- Pin nailer
- Finish nailer
- Air hose
- Miter box saw (to cut trim)
- Tape measure
- Two ladders
- Framing, casing, and trim materials - which might not be available with the stairs or ladder.
Considering that you must have got the ladder keeping mind the requisite measurements, let's move on to the installation. Find out the entry point and map the best access point to the loft or attic. Then, make a small hole in the ceiling dry wall to give you a good access to the attic and sufficient framing as well, from which you can mount the ladder.
Keep in mind that the attic entry needs to have an adequate clearance for the fitting of ladder jamb with the casing and door. It also needs to have enough space to fold down freely without the wall or any objects below being hit.
Before you go to the attic space for ladder installation, the casing material has to be cut according to the measurements. The size should be such that it fits around the ladder jamb. Keep it aside after cutting till the ladder is mounted.
If the ceiling where you are mounting the attic stairs is made of sheet rock, cut the drywall after marking a rough opening. In a situation where you are fixing the stairs in conjunction with an already present hatch, you can cut the framing around the old opening with the help of a reciprocating saw.
Cut a few 2x8 inch joists and header size for framing out the rough opening of the attic ladder. For attaching the joists to the header, use 16d common nails. Nail through the existing ceiling joist on the ends of the new side joists. Then, using metal joist hangers, fasten the opposite ends of the new side joists.
A reciprocating saw or dry knife can be used to remove the excess ceiling drywall inside the new opening. Now opening is ready with the frame. Then, install the temporary 1x4 inch cleats at either end of the opening. 1.5 inch screws have to be fixed in the solid framing to strengthen the cleats to support the weight of the ladder for some time.
Considering that you have help, get the staircase up in a collapsed position in the loft or attic space. Follow that up by dropping it in the place which is resting on the cleats and then tap the shims in to place around the edges. That is basically to get the ladder unit in the center within the hatch or opening.
Lower the stairs enough for drilling pilot holes through the side framing in the joints and secure them with the help of lag screws, as instructed by the manufacturer. You can fix a couple more for ensuring further strength.
Drill pilot holes if the ladder casing does not have them already, because the casing has to be centered and leveled. In that case fix each bolt loosely first and then adjust the shims as required. Tighten things down to avoid over setting at the same time.
Once the earlier step is done and everything is secured, get rid of the temporary cleats and remove the excess shim. Follow that by pulling the ladder down; remember the bottom section is still folded up. Use lengths of 1x4 for checking the ladder's angle and length.
Next, trim the ends of the bottom section of the ladder as per the measurements and requirements for adjusting the length and angles. That will help them rest flat and be secured on the floor.
Finally, install the casing which was cut earlier to fix the attic stairs. After that, sand, paint, and apply primer as needed. If you encounter any problems in the entire process, it is advisable to consult a professional or check the instruction manual.