"Pull-down" folding stairs for attics

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Old 11-11-05, 08:17 AM
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Question "Pull-down" folding stairs for attics

I need to replace my folding attic stairway. It's probably about 50 years old and made of wood. Over time the heat, etc. has caused it to warp. The steps are separating from the joints on the rails. Mounting bolts are coming loose -- hazardous.

I've been surfing the net and I see that most of the newer attic stairs are made of metal -- aluminum and even steel.

Is this an installation job for a do-it-yourselfer or would it be better to have it professionally installed? And by whom? A handy man? For safety, I would think the installer should have at least some experience. It looks fairly to simple to do, but requires some tools that I don't have and it would be a pretty tight space to work in.

Any comments would be much appreciated ...
 
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Old 11-28-05, 12:42 PM
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Assuming the dimensions of the new stairs are the same or slightly smaller, it's a very easy installation. But it takes two people- one underneath and one above. Basically just hold in place (from below) and nail to existing frame (from above). Different story if you have to create or modify the frame (ceiling joists)
The big box stores carry standard sizes, and they are framed in wood but might have aluminum treads.
 
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Old 12-26-05, 12:00 PM
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Is there any way to get a "not so standard" size? Our opening to the attic is smaller than what I'm seeing on lowes/home depot's websites...would you have to make it yourself or is there somewhere you can go to find the "off sizes"? Thanks!
 
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Old 01-01-06, 03:03 PM
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pull down folding stairs

It would be easier to modify your joistwork than to find smaller stairs. Besides, the skinnier the stairs, the skinnier the boxes you will be able to take up. It is not that difficult. Once the old stairs are removed, you will have to cut out one of the joists the length of your stairs +3". This will allow for a board to extend across the end from the now two adjacent joists and the joist you just cut off on both ends. The joist piece you just removed (and cut off 3") can now be moved sideways to the width necessary to fit your stairs +3/4". This will allow for shim space. Believe me, you don't want an exact fit, because the person on bottom will have to shove the unit up to you and you will have to set it down on cross boards. And too tight a fit will not make for a happy day. The cross boards I am talking about are 1x4's screwed to the joisting across the width of the stairs at either end. They will be removed after the person on top secures the stairs to the joist work.
Good luck with it, and if it is summer, choose to be on bottom.
 
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Old 12-18-06, 05:24 PM
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Watch for Pull Requirement

Originally Posted by notsohandy View Post
I need to replace my folding attic stairway. It's probably about 50 years old and made of wood. Over time the heat, etc. has caused it to warp. The steps are separating from the joints on the rails. Mounting bolts are coming loose -- hazardous.

I've been surfing the net and I see that most of the newer attic stairs are made of metal -- aluminum and even steel.

Is this an installation job for a do-it-yourselfer or would it be better to have it professionally installed? And by whom? A handy man? For safety, I would think the installer should have at least some experience. It looks fairly to simple to do, but requires some tools that I don't have and it would be a pretty tight space to work in.

Any comments would be much appreciated ...
Watch for the amount of pull required to open the stairs. I installed a set of new Werner Steel Stairs that are advertised as being "easy opening". Easy must be for a 300 pound muscle man. This was for a woman weighing only 110 pounds. She could not budge the stairs. When I called Werner to ask about their quote of them being easy to open they admitted that it took 130 pounds of pull to get them to start opening. That is anything BUT easy opening. The rep immediately offered, without my asking, to send me any of their other stairs AT NO COST FOR THE STAIRS OR THE SHIPPING and told me I could keep the stell stairs. So they know that there is a problem with these stairs. Plus as you climb the steps, when you get to the area where the panel is located, you cannot stick your toe out beyond the edge of the step, leaving you with only a very narrow strip on which to stand. So I asked them to send the aluminum ladder as a replacement. It arrived - but it too requires more pull than this 110 pound woman can muster. Louisville stairs appear to be no better. The old style spring and hinge combination worked - but none of the new ones use that style anymore.

Anyone have any ideas ?????
 
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