How to Install an Attic Hatch and Ladder - Part 1

What You'll Need
Attic ladder
Measuring tape
Spirit level
Step ladder
Lumber to frame hatch
Finish nails
Dust mask
Safety gloves

If your home has an attic but no attic hatch or stairs, you are missing out on access to large areas of space that you could put to good use. Attic storage space is not only useful, but it can also add value to your home. In the first installment of this 3-part guide (part 2, part 3), you will learn how to measure and mark up the access to the ladder, remove insulation and other items in the attic, and open up the attic.

Step 1 - Measure the Attic Opening

If you have an opening in your attic or a former opening, measure where you want the attic hatch to go. If you have never had anything like that in your home, consider convenient locations to place the hatch, such as a hallway or in a cupboard or storage place. Use your tape measure to work out how wide and long you want the attic hatch to be. Keep in mind how big your ladder will be, as you don't want an enormous hatch over a small ladder.

Step 2 - Mark and Cut Out the Hatch

Once you are clear on where the attic hatch should go, use your chalk or pencil to make marks. Use the spirit level to ensure that all of these marks are completely straight. Next, cut through the drywall that covers the attic. Put on your dust mask at this point, as the inside of the attic will probably have old insulation in it.

Step 3 - Clear Out the Attic

Standing on the step ladder and wearing gloves and a dust mask, cut out the insulation that is in the way of your hatch. Place this insulation in a plastic bag. You may have to dispose of this yourself rather than leaving it out for the garbage men.

Step 4 - Cutting the Opening

When the insulation is cleared away, measure the right amount for the opening again and then start cutting through the wood of the attic. You may need to remove the joists that are in the way using a circular saw. In that case, the parts of the hatch will keep the joists supported as you proceed.

A view of floating basement stairs from the bottom.Time to go in the opposite direction, here are some guidelines for how to build basement stairs.