attic ladder with drywall screws?


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Old 11-08-14, 09:26 AM
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attic ladder with drywall screws?

I just noticed that the attic stairs in my new house (built earlier this year) were installed with drywall screws. Upon further inspection, I also noticed that the stairs were installed so that the bottom of the frame is about 2" below the bottom of the ceiling; the result is that some of the holes in the frame plates that should have 16d nails don't even have drywall screws.

I think the builder installed the stair frame too low because it's impossible to find an attic ladder for a 10'7" ceiling that fits a rough opening of only 22.5" x 54". Most of the ladders I've seen for that rough opening size only work for up to a 10'3" ceiling height.

Based on this, I have two questions:

1. How unsafe is the attic ladder as it stands now, with drywall screws?

2. Can anyone tell me where to find an attic ladder that fits a rough opening of 22.5" x 54" and works for a ceiling height of 10'7"? If not, what other options do I have?
 
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Old 11-08-14, 09:30 AM
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Welcome to the forums Patrick!

Drywall screws are brittle and prone to break

Generally a new house comes with a 1 yr warranty so that might be something to check on.
 
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Old 11-08-14, 09:41 AM
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Well, a scissor style ladder might work for you, but they sure aren't gonna be cheap. Search for Fakro scissor ladder. Model LSF2247 will go to 10' 6" with an additional step added. Close to 800 buckaroos!
 
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Old 11-08-14, 09:47 AM
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Thanks guys. I've broken more than one drywall screw in my time, so I was kind of freaked out when I saw them holding the ladder frame up (as I was 10' above a concrete garage floor…). The builder hasn't been particularly helpful in addressing issues but I suppose it's worth a try.

Regarding scissor stairs, I also found one by Rainbow that would work, but it's also $800…. Yikes.

What about using a ladder for a 10'3" ceiling and just putting a 4" wooden platform under it when I need to access the attic? Seems okay for me, but probably wouldn't pass an inspection if I ever sold the house…?
 
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Old 11-08-14, 09:53 AM
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Normally the 1 yr warranty is mandated by law. I don't know what all it covers but if this is something that falls under the warranty he can be made to fix it. Has he built other houses similar to yours with an attic ladder?
 
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Old 11-08-14, 10:00 AM
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I'll omit the story, but to accommodate a set of stairs that ended with one leg on a landing and the other 4" short of the concrete I built a 4" high box that was put in place every time the ladder was used. In your case, if you install the ladder as it should be it sounds like it will be a step short. A similar landing pad could be used, although not the most convenient, to support the bottom of the ladder and act as a small step.

I see you are in cold country so I'll add that pull down stairs are noted for air leakage and heat loss. Just another project to add to you to-do list .

Bud
 
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Old 11-08-14, 12:11 PM
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I've been in some houses that use a 6x6 block under the ladder that is only pulled out when access is needed. Should give you the clearance needed to work with your ceiling height.

Yeah, drywall screws seem to be used for everything. I just demo'd a shower that had previously been repaired. they repaired the cement backer board with drywall screws.....most were rusted out. Not safe in your situation.
 
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Old 11-09-14, 02:14 PM
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I found a ladder from Lowe's that might work, but it seems kind of expensive at $340 for a wooden ladder:

FAKRO 10-3/4-ft Wood 300-lb Type IA Attic Ladder
Item #: 316801 | Model #: 66853

Any thoughts on this one?

It has a 22" x 54" rough opening and is supposed to fit ceiling heights from 7'11" to 10'9".
 
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Old 11-09-14, 02:43 PM
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Fakro is a good brand from what I see. Is the builder paying? You might want to call Fakro or visit their site and make sure of how it can cover that wide a range.
 
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Old 11-09-14, 04:28 PM
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It looks like I'm gonna have to give Fakro a call, because all of the wooden ladders on their website work for a max ceiling height of 10'1".

I've already contacted the builder for a few other fixes on the house, and he has done the bare minimum (or less) in most cases. I don't think I'm going to call him on this one because I know that I won't be satisfied with his solution. When I'm 10 feet above a concrete floor, I want to make sure that I'm on a good, well-installed ladder, so I want to have full control over how this issue is addressed... It's disappointing that a builder would let this happen, but I'm just glad I noticed it before an accident occurred.
 
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Old 11-10-14, 05:03 AM
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depends on the shear strength of the screws but i'd guess drywall screws aren't the best solution,,, i used carriage bolts & 3" wood screws for our new ladder - articulated aluminum - which replaced the old rickety wooden pull-down,,, garage ceiling height's 10'
 
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Old 11-10-14, 06:37 AM
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I'll lay odds there is some sort of add-on legs required for the higher ceiling. Several Australian sites had something similar.
 
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Old 11-10-14, 10:29 AM
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I can't help but think that a bigger concern for the OP might be all of the other short-cuts the so-called "builder" took on the rest of the house. Anyone trying to save a few dollars on a few visible fasteners is also likely to cheat on larger-ticket (but hidden) items., such as framing members, concrete strength, and plumbing and electrical components.

To me, it's truly a shame that in some parts of the country, anyone with a dog and a pick-up truck can call himself a builder. The master-builder designation is reserved for those also owning a shovel and a hammer.
 
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Old 11-10-14, 06:08 PM
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Yes, unfortunately the "builder" cut other corners as well. Which seems odd to me, because he did so many extra cosmetic things like use solid wooden doors for all the interior doors, tray ceiling in the master bedroom, etc. But I guess he builds what sells, not what lasts.

I called around before buying the house and every tradesman I talked to spoke very highly of the builder. I also hired several different inspectors to look at the house before purchase (a general inspector, plumber, roofer, electrician, and HVAC contractor). All the inspectors found things, mostly small stuff, nickel-and-dime shortcuts, and inattention to detail in hidden areas. Anyway, it's a spec house in a small town, so I guess that's how it goes. By comparison to the other options around here it is fantastic, so I'm not really complaining in general. The only thing that has me upset is this attic ladder situation, since it is so hazardous. This is my second house, the first being a 1950s fixer upper, so I'm used to everything not being perfect (even though basic things like attic ladders should be pretty darned close to perfect in a new house…)

I e-mailed Fakro this afternoon to ask if the ladder really works for up to 10'9" ceilings. Both Menards and Lowes carry it, with the same model number, and neither mention extension legs, so I am hoping that I hear good news from Fakro tomorrow. If so, I'll probably order it and install it in sometime in the next few weeks.
 
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Old 11-11-14, 08:50 AM
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I just heard from Fakro customer service. It turns out that the wooden ladder really does work for ceilings up to 10'9". Their metal scissor ladder works if you add steps, but it would cost twice as much (about $600 vs $300 at Menards). Both ladders have the same weight limit of 300 lbs so I'm not sure what the advantage would be for the scissor ladder. Does anyone have experience with that type of ladder?

Anyway, here's what Fakro customer service said:

"Fakro insulated smart attic ladders are sturdy, high-quality units.

Our LWP wooden-folding attic ladder is available in longer lengths (10'9") in the dimension specified (22 1/2" x 54"), item number 66853. This length for this model is not advertised on our website.
The LST (22x54, item 66822) is our metal scissor ladder that is also available in ceiling heights up to 10'10". Purchasing two (LSS-31) extra steps lengthens the unit to a range of 10'2" to 10'10".
Please also view or download our Smart Attic Ladder catalog for more information and specifications.

Thank-you for your interest in Fakro products.

Let us know if you have any other questions."
 
 

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