About the Author: Connie

Hi everyone! I'm Connie, I'm a single mom and I live in Ky. Over the past few years I've had to learn to do a lot of things that I'd never thought I could do. Hopefully, I'll be able to help some of you get the courage to attempt your own do it yourself projects!

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Add Attic Stairs for Access to Extra Storage


Seems like everyone I know is in desperate need of more storage space. With all the things we tend to collect on a daily basis, our closets are packed full! I have lots of closets and still can’t find the space to put the vacuum cleaner away!

But, don’t worry, many of us have an untapped source of wasted space - the attic! It’s a perfect place to store all kinds of things that aren’t needed all the time. Especially seasonal stuff like Christmas decorations and even folding lawn chairs.

If you’re lucky you actually have a stairway tucked in an upstairs corner that leads up to your attic. But, if like most of us you have a small square opening in the top of one of your closets or a hallway, then using that space can be hard to do.

You can easily add a folding attic stairs to allow you to take advantage of all that open space! They may seem hard to install, but you really can do it yourself!

No matter what brand of folding attic stairs you buy, the technique for installation is pretty much the same. However, before shopping for a set of stairs you’ll need to measure the opening to the attic.

Installing the stairs is a project that almost any one can do as long as you know a little about carpentry work. It’s very unlikely that you’ll be able to find steps that will fit the existing hole exactly. You’ll probably have to enlarge the opening to make it fit.

Remove the trap door on the attic opening and remove all the trim around the hole, down to the bare rafters. Measure the opening and then measure the frame of the steps. The opening will need to be 1/2 inch larger than the frame.

Measure and mark the drywall and cut it away using a utility knife. If you’d prefer once you’ve got the cut started in the drywall you can use a small saw to finish cutting it.

Now you’re ready to measure and cut the rafters. You’re probably not going to be able to use a jigsaw, it will be easier with a good sharp hand saw.

It will probably be easier to cut the rafters from inside the attic, you’ll have to install the stairs from inside the attic anyway. Just make sure to put everything in the attic so you’ll have it close at hand.

Now you will need to make a frame to fit around the stair frame. There is already a frame on the stairs, but you need to make one to mount inside the opening to have something to secure the stairs to. Place the frame inside the hole and mount it to the ceiling rafters.

Once you’ve gotten the rafters cut away and the new frame in place, use two pieces of scrap lumber and screw them onto each end of the opening onto the ceiling. These will only be temporary to hold the stairs in place until you get them installed and should only extend 1/2 beyond the opening.

Insert the attic stairs into the opening and secure them to the surrounding frame. There should be screws included with the steps, but if there’s not any you’ll need to buy some 3 or 3 1/2 inch screws. Check the manufacturers directions for the suggested position of the screws.

Next remove the temporary boards and attach the trimming. Allow about 1/4 of an inch gap between the stairs and the trim so that the stairs won’t stick when you try to open them.

All that’s left to do is to cut the stairs to the correct length to sit on the floor properly. Be very careful with your measurements, if you cut them too short the stairs won’t reach the floor!

Unfold the stairs leaving the bottom section folded to the back. Hold a scrap piece of board to the side of the stairs and measure how far you need them to go to touch the floor and mark the place. Do each side separately in case the floor isn’t completely level on both sides of the stairs.

Now that you’ve gotten the stairs cut to the right length, you’re ready to pack all that stuff up into the attic and out of your way!

There Is 1 Response So Far. »

  1. Pull down ladders are one of the biggest “holes” in your home causing tremendous energy loss. It is a door to the outside but is normally nothing more than a 1/8″ piece of plywood and no seal. Insulate and seal your attic stairs with a stair cover. An alternative to energy wasting pull down stairs is an attic access hatch. visit http://www.batticdoor.com for more details.

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