Werner's Easy Access Attic Ladder 5 - Cut Ceiling Joists Werner's Easy Access Attic Ladder 5 - Cut Ceiling Joists

In part 4 of this series on installing the Easy Access Ladder by Werner, we covered how to cut the necessary hole in your ceiling. In this part, you will learn how to cut your joists. Before proceeding, you must have either exposed joists or a correctly-sized hole at the desired location in the ceiling.

Goal: to cut out any joists that are in the way of your chosen location. Before cutting the joists, you must attach them to other joists in the attic to keep the ceiling from sagging or completely collapsing.

Step 1—Mark

If the room has a ceiling, and you have cut the required hole, go to Step 2. If the room has no ceiling, mark the joists according to (A) or (B) below.

(A) If the chosen location is parallel to the joists, mark the rough opening length on top of the joists. Do not cut the joist at this mark.

(B) If the chosen location is perpendicular to the joists, mark the rough opening width on top of the joists (see Figure 8). Do not cut the joist at this mark.

Step 2—Cut Joist Support Boards

Cut 2 joist-sized boards long enough to span two joists on each side of your chosen location (see Figure 9). These boards will support the joists that will be cut and help keep the ceiling from sagging or completely collapsing while you are working in the overhead space.

Step 3—Nail Joist Support Boards

Place these boards approximately 24 inches from the edge of your chosen location and nail them into the joists (see Figure 9).

Note: the 24-inch distance is needed to give you room to hammer nails into the frame that you will build in the next section.

Step 4—Mark Joists

Next, determine where the joist(s) should be cut. Figure 10 shows where to mark the joist(s) that span your chosen location. Note that the joist(s) should be marked back from the edge of your location a distance of twice the joist thickness (usually three inches). This leaves room for two joist-sized headers to be placed against each end of the cut joists.

Note: in some homes, especially older ones, the joists may be slightly thicker than the lumber you can currently buy. If your joists have a different thickness than the lumber you will be using for the headers, you will need to mark the joists back from the edge of your location a distance of two times the header thickness instead of the joist thickness.

Step 5—Cut Joists

Saw through the joist(s), being careful not to cut through the ceiling and making sure the cut ends of the joist(s) are flat and vertical.

Now that you've cut your joists, it's time to frame the new opening. Part 6 shows you how. Click here to purchase the Easy Access Attic Ladder by Werner.

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