Adding an attic ladder


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Old 02-23-22, 04:42 PM
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Adding an attic ladder

I'd like to add an attic ladder in my garage. There is about 22 1/4 inches between the edge of one rafters and the next....it pretty much has the same truss design as what I see in another thread.

Could you guys walk me through what I would need like I was just a little kid....well I still am at heart.

Thanks!

This is basically what it looks like up there...

Ceiling storage in Garage beams 2x4 trusses HELP
 
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Old 02-23-22, 05:07 PM
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You can easily install an attic access stairway but you don't have much storage capability on trusses.
 
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Old 02-23-22, 06:11 PM
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As mentioned in another recent thread, the bottom chord on trusses is only rated for 7-10 lbs per square foot, which is for the weight of drywall and insulation. Most trusses are not built for attic storage, unless you are putting empty cardboard boxes up there.
 
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Old 02-24-22, 01:22 PM
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Ohh....thanks for the warning! Probably saved my tail!

Do you guys have a link or some basics on installing an attic ladder? I can youtube it.....BUT I am scared my situation is a little bit unique. Like do I have to frame something? What's the basic idea if you don't mind. I just need to be able to walk up there and get to other parts of the attic when I need to.

Thanks!
 
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Old 02-24-22, 01:52 PM
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Measure carefully between trusses as it looks like the standard opening is 22-1/2".

What is the distance from the ceiling to the floor ?
If it were me installing a pull down staircase the first thing I'd do is to install the short blocking. (blue)
Glue and screws.
Then I'd double up the wood on the trusses...... full length. (red)

 
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Old 02-24-22, 01:58 PM
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It's a little tricky by yourself. You either need to have someone helping you or access to the attic via a ladder (such as when the ceiling is not drywalled or insulated yet.)

Best way I have found is to get the ladder up in the attic first, along with a pack of cedar shims, the fasteners you will use (casing nails or structural screws) your hammer, drill, tape measure,, and maybe a prybar. Take a few large scraps of plywood with you to have a flat area to work on around the perimeter of the opening.

Frame your rough opening in per the specs on the installation instructions. Follow their directions over anything I might suggest. Basically you will be adding a piece of blocking (between joists) in front of and behind the ladder. Then measure how thick the door panel is. Typically is 1/4" z 3/8" thick. Cut two 2x4s about 32" long, and add a scrap of plywood or wood that same thickness (same thickness as the door) that is about 3 1/2" x 3 1/2" on each end of that 2x4 as a shim.

When you fasten those two 2x4s to the joists on either side of your door opening, placing them flat against the ceiling, the shims face the ceiling and that spaces the 2x4 down from the ceiling 1/4" - 3/8" leaving room for the thickness of the door. The jamb is flush with the ceiling... the door is not.

If you don't have drywall on your ceiling yet, you would want to shim those 2x4s down 5/8" plus the thickness of the door.

Once both 2x4s are installed securely, you just drop the prehung attic ladder down onto them, place shims near all 4 corners, and fasten it to the rough opening through the jamb. Measure it diagonally in both directions (those measurements should be equal) to ensure it is square in the opening before you nail it off for good.

Then you can go down, or tell your helper to remove the 2x4s and pull the ladder down. At that point you should add more shims and fasteners along the sides, ensuring the jambs are straight and not bowed in or out. If you measure the width between the sides, it should be the same in the middle as it is on the ends.

Come down using your extension ladder... not the rungs of the new ladder, because you still need to cut them to length.

To cut them to length, ensure the ladder is all the way down, and use a straight edge to approximate where the front portion of that last section will land, and measure the length that last section needs to be cut to. Use a level to make a level reference line on the side of the middle section then use a sliding t bevel to make a pattern of the angle, then use the sliding t bevel to mark the legs you need to cut. Flip the ladder down and double check that you are marking and cutting the angle the correct direction, since you don't want it to be backwards.

It's usually best to make this cut longer than you think it needs to be, because you don't want to make the mistake of cutting it too short. You can always cut it again if it's too long.

When buying an attic ladder you need to know 2 things, you width (22 1/2") and the ceiling height.

You should really watch a few videos, as seeing it is likely going to make more of an impression than reading about it.
 
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Old 02-24-22, 02:53 PM
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Do you guys have a link or some basics on installing an attic ladder?
Here are the installation instruction for a Werner attic ladder. I installed this in my garage, with a modification to make it fire proof. But it gives you all the details needed.

Your attic, if the pictures are correct, is not very tall, an attic ladder is kind of a waste, a good fireproof attic door might be sufficient!

Spread plywood across all the trusses, as long as your storing xmass decorations and not engine blocks, even though I am guilty of that, you will be fine!

https://images.thdstatic.com/catalog...de842f01a6.pdf
 
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Old 02-25-22, 07:01 AM
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Be sure to distinguish between an attic ladder and attic stairs.
 
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Old 02-25-22, 07:24 AM
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The industry calls them ladders. Stairs have a minimum tread width and minimum riser height along with other code requirements, so you really can't call a pull down access "stairs".
 
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Old 02-26-22, 08:19 AM
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Thank you for the clarification, XSleeper. I was thinking of a unit I installed for a friend several years ago which fit a narrow opening in the ceiling and pushed up into the attic instead of folding as most units do. I guess they are obsolete.
 
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Old 02-26-22, 10:05 AM
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I guess I've never seen such a thing! That being said, as far as sturdiness goes, the aluminum units sure feel sturdier than the wooden ones do, if price is not the biggest factor.
 
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Old 02-26-22, 05:55 PM
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Wow! Digesting this. I did not think that I'd get this much hand holding.

I appreciate it!!
 
 

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