How to Install a Loft Hatch

What You'll Need
Carpenter's saw
Tape measure
Door hinges
Four pieces of 1 by1/2 inch timber
Two pieces of 2 by 3 inch timber
Miter saw
Four pieces of architrave
Loft catch
Square piece of plywood fitted to hatch size

Installing a Loft Hatch is a fairly straightforward project for the DIY enthusiast with basic carpentry skills. There are a few safety measures to keep in mind, but the good thing about this project is that it does not require complicated or expensive tools.

Step 1: Measure and Enlarge Opening

Most loft storage spaces have an existing smaller access hole that will need to be enlarged. This will be placed between two beams in the loft space, and this will determine how much the hole can be enlarged while maintaining stability. These beams are normally about 2 by 6 feet and are not designed to support much weight. This is especially true with those loft spaces found in older homes. The loft beams are attached and held in place with stringers, which are smaller lengths of timber.

Mark off the dimensions for the new loft hole, and then check to make sure the stringers are still sufficient enough for support. One suggestion is to add some extra stringers to add to the strength of the ceiling itself. Place the two pieces of 2 by 3 inch timber along the edges of the new opening and screw these firmly in place.

Step 2: Cut New Opening

Carefully saw away the plaster and beam section to create your new loft opening. Cut two more pieces of timber to fit into each end of the new hole you just cut. Attach this timber to all three beams which two screws at each attachment point. Remove the first two supporting pieces of timber from the adjoining sides; now you have your new loft opening.

Step 3: Create Hatch Cover

Measure and take note of the dimensions of the loft hole you just created; the loft hatch is going to be sized slightly smaller to fit inside it. Cut four pieces of 3 by 1 inch timber and nail them together to make a box shape. If you plan on a simple push-up lid, use four pieces of 1 by 1/2 timber to make a lip for the lid to sit on; these will be nailed to the inside of the box.

Cut another four pieces of architrave timber and bevel the edges of each with a miter saw. Architrave refers to a molded band that frames a rectangular opening for added support. Nail each piece to the edges of the box you just fashioned. Nail the plywood in place to create the surface of the cover. 

Step 4: Install Hatch Cover

Attach the hinges to the edges of the hatch cover and secure them in place with screws. Enlist a helper to hold up the finished loft hatch cover and connect the hinges to the inside of the opening. If you want a catch to hold the hatch closed for safety reasons, fit and install this last.