The attic can create a lot of space in your home, without needing an extension or renovation.
Houses in the US are mostly ‘V’ shaped with a lot of additional hidden space under the roofFamilies can make use of this, as an extra room, storeroom, or just keep it ready for future useHowever, installing anything also needs adding access to space as wellSince one cannot have a permanent stairwell, ladders are perfect for such spaces doing it all by yourself, in a DIY fashion, can prove quite affordable as well.
How to Install the Attic Ladder Yourself?
DIY projects to make your attic space useful are a great way to spend a weekend or two. The best way to get started is to check your garage for installing one, preparing one from scratch if you like, or fitting one that you got from a local store. Here is a quick video that explains the steps one might have to go through.
- First thing is to keep a drill and stick a pin through the attic to find the gyro center or a reference point. This is drilled from the bottom, so you cannot know beforehand if it crosses a joist or something. It is important to stick the drill from the bottom so that you can find your desired location for installing the ladder.
- Then, go to the attic, and find the screw. Check the nearest intersections and trusses to see where you can make a cut. Before cutting joists one must brace them first, to avoid any damage to the structure. So, clean up the wool and insulation, and start fresh.
- Try to cut through the joists in perpendicular fashion between the braces. Do not cut till the end of the braces, but leave some room on both ends. To make a cut, use the circular saw, and then finish it with a box saw.
- Then, it is time to add further braces, perpendicular to the joists. Do this nearby the first brace, and repeat it near the second, on either end of the cut. This makes way for the drywall ceiling space where you can cut. Usually, you have to find a space big enough for 22”x54”, the standard size for US homes.
How to Install the Attic Ladder by Carpenter?
- Most of the time, carpenters will make an even bigger or wider space, if available. For example, take 30”, and then use another set of braces, parallel to the joists to make a smaller 22” space. Such alterations are useful to find your desired opening.
- Before cutting through the drywall, use four screws and punch them through the attic’s drywall from the top. This helps you identify the four corners. Now, go below, and cut the drywall from beneath using a reciprocating saw, preferably with a longer blade. Do not use a circular saw.
- Next, comes installing the ladder mount you have bought. Also, one can do a DIY ladder, as per their convenience.
Installing Attic Ladder between Trusses
When installing a DIY attic between existing trusses and joists, one must keep some things in mind. In this short video you can see one in action. For this, you must learn about the type of flooring and framing. The attic floor and the roof have framing done with trusses and individual rafters. Since a truss functions as an interlocking system, locked in place with gussets and metal connectors. So, finding the right spot is important.
How to Build Pull Down Attic Stairs?
To make a pull-down attic ladder from scratch, you need to have a lot of experience with using hardware tools, carpentry, woodwork if you are going to use wood, or work with metals like aluminum bars.
- It might also be useful to know about welding, polishing, and so on. However, there are some DIY ladders with a variety of options from retractable and light to sturdy and solid. Here is a good video that shows the entire process.
- Alternatively, you can use parts, combine with readymade parts and DIY kits, for example, use precut wood, standard size hinges, design them as you like, or use the instruction manual. Building a pull down the ladder can mean you can use a retractable design or a complete ladder. The height, width, etc. make the final decision, as well as your convenience factor.
Installing Attic Ladder Perpendicular to Joists
Most attic ladders are installed parallel to the joists, because this makes it easy to cut, maneuver, and install. It is also a lot less strain on the structure of the roof and frames. But, one might want to install a ladder perpendicular to the joists, if the case arises. It usually depends on the location, layout, and orientation of your room underneath.
- If the ladders need to be perpendicular to the joists, you have to cut some of the joists with a 2”x6” or 2”x8” headers. In some cases, you may have joists that run both parallel and perpendicular, for added strength, and in these cases, bracing a pair of joists is a very good idea. In another case, you can install additional frames that join the end of the cut to the roof above.
- Depending on your layout, making it parallel means cutting a lot fewer joists, which keeps the structure of the roof and frames more intact. But, if you go in the perpendicular direction, though the cuts are smaller, you have to cut through a lot more joists. This is a tradeoff that you need to make before going for the installation.
How much does it Cost to Install an Attic Ladder?
When you are going for a professional service, installing an attic ladder will cost you upwards of $250. Since this is always custom-made the charges on labor, material, handling, design, and choice of the ladder can shoot the prices higher. Here we list the prices in the US, as of 2020, and imagining the times we are in now, the prices are going to be steady enough.
- The average costs of the woodwork and installing a ladder can range between $240 and $640. The average rate is $450 including all parts, labor, and handling.
- But, labor charges can vary a lot from one service to another. It also varies with location. On average, a contractor will charge you $250 per project, and this includes an hourly rate card too. This amounts to $60 per hour, or at least $40 if it is a new service.
- In several cases, you will get the ladder, finishing supplies, attic door kit, from the service provider. In some cases, you have a choice to make a selection, and they will arrange the same on your behalf. As a user, you can always discuss them with your contractor, and the final invoice will tell you the cost.
How do You Install a Keller Attic Ladder?
Here in this short video, you can get a crisp introductory glimpse at what a Keller Wood Attic ladder can do for you. The video explains this in four simple easy to do steps. It is DIY if you have some experience and not labor-intensive work either. One weekend is enough if you are good. Just open the package, and check the instruction manual. Keller comes with a complete kit, and all you need is some time and some tools.
How do You Buy an Attic Ladder?
Before buying a ladder keep a note of a few things. The location of the ladder will help you choose the design. The type of ramming in the attic also helps. In some cases, the ladder might fit into the access hatch itself, while others might need you to cut an entirely new opening.
The joint or truss spacing operation is also important. The standard size ladder is build to fit 24-inch spacing, but gaps in framing can make this difficult. Check out professional help if required.
- The tools you would need in installing a DIY attic ladder kit such as Keller or Lowe’s include hammer, step ladder, screwdriver, carpenter square, saw, lag screws, nails, and so on.
- It is a good idea to do some research on the location, orientation, space, and design that suits your attic and lifestyle. This can save money in the long run.
- Always use braces and shims, temporary support slats, or install the additional frame to the joists to keep the frame intact.
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Are ceiling joists load bearing?
A joist is a horizontal structural member, running across an open space, that is used to transfer loads to vertical members, typically, floors & ceilings. Many times, if the joists run perpendicular to the wall, it is load bearing. This is not always the case, but is a good starting point.