How to Build a Folding Attic Access Ladder

What You'll Need
Attic ladder
Pencil to trace

By creating an attic access ladder, you can have an easy way to climb up into your attic space. Whether you need to get into your attic to check your roof or insulation or to retrieve items from storage, a ladder will give you access to the space, but tuck neatly out of the way when not needed.

Step 1—Check the Area

Make sure there will be enough room to install the ladder and then to climb through your attic entrance. Make sure there are no plumbing pipes or electrical wires that will be affected by installing the ladder.

Though in most cases the ladder will fit, if it won't or you need to work around sensitive areas, hire a professional to avoid doing permanent damage done to your home by trying to do it yourself.

Step 2—Determine Where to Install the Access Ladder

Plan the ladder opening parallel to your joists. You can make an opening anywhere in your home that is directly below the attic. A good location is one that makes it convenient to access the attic.

Nail two nails through the ceiling from inside the attic along one of the joists. This joist will act as one of the long sides of the opening.

Step 3—Align the Ladder Template

From the ceiling below the attic, align the ladder template with the nails you nailed through the ceiling. Carefully trace the template onto the ceiling so that you know where to cut for the framing. After you are done tracing the template, cut an opening in the ceiling using a hand saw.

After that part of the ceiling is removed, cut the lumber for the frame. Attach the pieces the frame to the opening using 3-inch screws so that it will hold.

Step 4—Build Temporary Supports

Build temporary supports by placing boards about 6 inches from each of the smaller edges. Make sure you will still be able to pass the ladder up through the boards to someone waiting in the attic.

After the ladder has been passed up, fasten it in the way the manufacturer directed, using the tools that came in the kit with the ladder. Once the ladder is in place, remove the supports carefully and open the door without extending the ladder.

Step 5—Add Finishing Touches

With one person holding the unit from below and one from above, square the unit inside the attic and finish fastening it to the frame you have built. Trim the shins once the unit is secure.

Extend the ladder fully and cut down the legs so that it fits properly on the floor. Make sure that the hinges do not have any gaps when the ladder is fully extended. If you like, you can paint or stain your door to give it a finished look.