How to Install Attic Stairs

With these attic stair installation steps, you'll find yourself putting together either a new attic, or one that needs to be made a little bigger for heavy shifting. Learn more about how to install attic stairs with ease...
Attics are a great space for one to store away old furniture or cartons of unused clothes and other knickknacks that don't need to be kept in one's open home space. Attics don't always have to be a place to put away storage for later use, or just in case it comes in handy one day, but can also be turned into something quite innovative if you allow your mind to think out of the box. It can serve as an extra bedroom space for say a guest, or you can turn it into your own private space to climb up to and just revel in.

You can always turn it into something that is more fun and relaxing, or as a needed time to time distraction. We look into how you can turn an attic you've always wanted to make bigger, into maybe a pull down attic or one that you can build into the floor.

Steps on Installing Attic Stairs

When beginning your home improvement move, make sure you have all the available tools that go into putting this massive job together. It isn't as hard as it sounds, and requires that you have a knack of knowing your measurements and a sense of gauging just what needs to come in line from step 1 to step 2. Before we get into the attic stair installation process, we first assess if you have all the tools and equipment at hand, to carry out this project.
  • Chalk
  • Saw (drywall)
  • Header
  • Nails / screws
  • Cleats (1x3)
  • Frame (1x8)
  • 16d nails
  • Two sets of spring drums
  • Cable pulley
  • Drill
  • Three 1 inch screws
  • Wrench
  • 6 one inch long screws
  • Cable holders
  • Casing molding
We now move on to how you can get started on installing your pull down attic stairs, that will help you put together a very efficient way of working your way up and down your attic ladder.

Steps What to Do
1. Before you cut out the access door of your existing / non-existing attic frame in the ceiling, chalk out an outline of how big you'd like that opening to be. When doing this make sure you don't damage any existing wires or pipes that may be present in the ceiling structure. When that is done, cut out your desired opening with a drywall saw and then get moving to step 2.
2. What you will have when you cut out your frame, is either wood blocking your path, or ceiling joists. Cut this out, leaving only the header from the hatchway intact, using it to form just one of end of that open frame cut.
3. Then nail the header that you have on hand in the middle of the joists at the far end of the frame opening, so that the framework is complete. Then using the screws / nails, you can then place in your drywall ceiling to this new framework, from down below, working your way upward.
4. For now, you need to screw in a pair of the 1x3 cleats (temporary) across the rough framework opening. While doing this, keep aside another frame made by yourself of a 1x8 circumference frame, that fits just right into the framework.
5. Using the 16d nails, hold down the frame over the cleats from the top, and drive them in nice and firmly.
6. After you do this, you can then remove the 1x3 cleats that were just temporary.
7. Using the staircase's hinge, place the door panel on one end of the framework. Make sure it fits fine when you lower the swinging door into the frame.
8. Using the two sets of spring drums, screw these into the 1x8 framework just above the hinge of the door, towards the header.
9. The right hand drum springs set will also be affixed in the same fashion on the other side of the framework, to give yourself a two sided pulley system. Then attach the header between both spring drum sets, which will hold one incline of the staircase.
10. Using the cable pulley, place each one on either side of the framework (that is the 1x8), and place it roughly 20 inches from the header that is bang opposite the hinge of the door panel. Using the one inch long screw, secure your pulley on either end, but before you do so make sure you drive in pilot holes to avoid the frame-work from falling away.
11. Using the stair treads, slip each one into the dadoes that are placed in the two stringers. Each pine tread should be driven down in place using the screws, using a wrench to tighten these against the ladder rod that passes just below each tread. The header guide frame which is above the door panel needs the treads to fit in right, so leave out three pieces of the same from the top.
12. Once you climb halfway up to complete the last part of your work, have someone supervise as you drive in the stringers until the slide bars present on the header guide of the framework drop into place when it comes to the channel grooves. Here you can then add in your last three treads that you left out in the last step.
13. The door guide frame can then be slid into place over the staircase, where it should then be attached to the door panel with the six 1 inch long screws.
14. To the side of each stringer, affix your cable holders with the help of the pilot holes that are near the fourth tread. The spring drum's closest cable near the header can then be gently pulled out across the pulley and then to the cable holder that is placed against the door. Once that is in place, hook it onto the holder. Repeat this for the other end of the stair's drum as well when connecting the cable.
15. Lastly, alter the tension of the cables until the staircase moves in and out-of-place without friction or restraint. The last step is to nail casing molding around where the attic opening is, to allow the paint to blend in with the surrounding color. If the door doesn't close right, keep adjusting the cables until it smoothly fits into place.

With these steps, you can experiment with different ways on creating an opening that is easy to use and big enough for you to enter. That way you'll be able to take stuff up and transfer them anywhere you please depending on how big an attic opening you prefer. Remember to use attic vents in that space you have, to allow air to circulate, thus avoiding musty, moldy situations from taking place.
By Naomi Sarah
Published: 1/8/2011
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