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How do I Install Attic Steps?

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  • Written By: Autumn Rivers
  • Edited By: J.T. Gale
  • Last Modified Date: 29 November 2016
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An attic that is hard to reach typically is not very useful to the homeowner, which is where attic steps come in. There are several types available and many can be installed without the use of a professional company. Pull-down steps are some of the most common to be installed by the homeowner, but it is usually advised that at least one other person help with the installation.

Typically, the first step to installing pull-down attic steps should be reading the instructions that often come with them. You will then need to decide where to place the ladder, as its location should provide plenty of headroom and space to comfortably climb up the steps. Place the ladder where it will be installed. Tools generally used for installation include a flashlight, hammer or drill, protective eye wear, a tape measure, a saw, two 1 inch (about 2.5 cm) by 4 inch (about 10.2 cm) boards, and about 20 wood screws. You should place the attic steps inside the attic while you prepare the area.

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The majority of attics include a diagram or dimensions for the opening, so you can align this with the screws and trace the outline on the ceiling. You will then screw two 1x4 boards from one side of the attic opening to the other, using quarter-inch spacers so that the boards are slightly below the ceiling. Carefully push the attic steps down from the attic and rest them against the two boards, making sure they are centered.

Attic steps usually come with a hinge on one side, and you should next place that side against the framing member of the attic opening. You should then attach the framing member to the steps by screwing through the frame. Each side of the attic steps typically should receive at least three screws arranged in a staggered pattern for the best durability.

One of the last steps is to saw off any remaining part of the stairs if they are too tall for the ceiling. The final step is to remove the two wooden boards that were screwed in at the beginning of the project as they were merely there for support and correct placement of the steps. Now you should have functional drop-down stairs for your attic. If you are interested in saving heated or conditioned air in your home, the next project will likely be insulating the area around the new steps.

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