Attic ladder provides access to out-of-way storage

Q: My garage is overflowing with junk and I need to clean it up. I was thinking of shelving and cabinets, but then the idea of pull-down stairs dawned on me. What is the cost and difficulty of installing them?

A: Don’t feel bad. If you are like most people, you still have boxes of unopened things from when you moved into the house, probably years ago.

You could spend several hundred dollars on shelving and cabinets for the garage, or you could spend around $100 for an attic ladder. Cabinets would decrease the amount of floor space in your garage, whereas an attic ladder would not.

I have installed attic ladders in all my houses, and as far as storage is concerned, it is one of the best things I could have done. I also installed lights in my attic, and the framing of my roof is such that I can walk from one side to the other. It’s also a great place to hide things because nobody else will go up there. Realize though, that you will have to cut into the fire-rated ceiling and home inspectors will not like this. There are systems available however, that will restore it.

One of the most important aspects of installing the ladder is where to install it.

First, look in the attic to see what obstructions will need to be avoided. Gain entry into the attic by moving the drywall cutout that the builder used to cover the attic access. Move over to the fire wall, and cut a small hole in it so you can peer into the garage’s attic space (you can repair this later). From here you can determine the best place to locate the ladder.

You can poke a hole through the ceiling with a metal coat hanger, and then once you are in the attic, you can look for the coat hanger and see what challenges that location presents. Choose an area that is high enough so that as you enter the attic, you won’t hit your head. Look for electrical cables, pipes, and ductwork to avoid. It’s sometimes better to choose another location than to move obstructions. Also, make sure you have at least 2 feet of space in front of the ladder once it is pulled down.

Your roof is either constructed using a hand-framed system with 16-inch centers or roof trusses with 24-inch centers. Your house probably has trusses, which cannot be cut. Trusses are engineered from smaller dimensional lumber to act as a structural unit, so cutting it will compromise its strength and cause structural failure. With trusses, you simply buy a ladder that is 22½-inches wide (the distance between trusses). The unit slides right in.

Once you decide where to install the ladder, it is time to cut the rough opening in the garage’s ceiling. Use a drywall saw (about $6) to cut the opening to the manufacturer’s specified dimensions.

Next, you need to frame the opening to provide the proper support for the stair unit. With a truss system, you will need to cut support blocks to form the rectangle for the opening. Use corner hangers (35 cents each) to strengthen the framed opening. Make sure the opening is square, and secure the corner hangers to the framing.

Cut two lengths of 1×4 to use as temporary cleats and screw them through the ceiling into the trusses. The ladder unit weighs about 50 pounds, so it sure is nice to have a helper guide it into the opening while you lift it into place. The ladder unit will rest on the temporary cleats until you secure the unit to the framing. Buy a pack of shims ($1) and square the unit in the opening. Then, nail the unit to the framing using 16d nails per the manufacturer’s recommendations. You also can use 3-inch deck screws, but predrill the frame to avoid splitting.

Remove the temporary cleats and extend the ladder to the floor in its full open position. Next, cut the legs of the ladder to length. Measure along the ladder on both legs to the floor. The legs will be slightly different because of irregularities in the garage floor. Take measurements at the front and the back of both legs to make the angled cut conform to the floor.

Finally, trim the rough opening with door casing or other molding. Miter the cuts at the corners. Use 4d nails to attach the casing, then paint the molding and the underside of the ladder unit to match the ceiling.

You also can install a light switch just inside the opening and run lights in the attic. Additionally, you can build a walkway to act as an aisle down the trusses, and add shelving to your heart’s delight. You may like it so much, you’ll look for excuses to go up there.

Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and president of Pro Handyman Corp. Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and president of Pro Handyman Corp. Questions may be sent by email to: Mike Klimek is a licensed contractor and president of Pro Handyman Corp. Questions may be sent by email to: questions@pro-handyman.com. Or, mail to: P.O. Box 96761, Las Vegas, NV 89193. His Web address is: www.pro-handyman.com.

ad-high_impact_4
Life
Kids become firefighters at Fire Station 98 open house
Henderson residents wore fire hats, learned about CPR and met firefighters at the Fire Station 98 open house Saturday, August 11, 2018. (Marcus Villagran Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
People from all over the world attend RollerCon 2018
RollerCon 2018 is a five-day convention focused on the roller derby community and culture at Westgate in Las Vegas. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Camp Broadway teaches kids how to sing and dance
The Smith Center's seventh annual Camp Broadway musical theater program gives 150 kids ages 6-17 an opportunity to learn musical theater skills from industry professionals over a five-day period. Marcus Villagran/ Las Vegas Review-Journal @brokejournalist
Las Vegas police officer on being PETA's Sexiest Vegan Next Door
Las Vegas police officer David Anthony talks vegan lifestyle and how he feels about being voted PETA's sexiest Vegan next door from his home on Monday, July 9, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
'NO H8' Campaign comes to Las Vegas
Hundreds of locals participate in the NO H8 campaign founded by Adam Bouska and Jeff Parshley as a response to Proposition 8, a California ban on same-sex marriage. The campaign has since evolved to represent equal treatment for all. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas
Over 40,000 People Attend The 4th Of July Parade In Summerlin In Las Vegas. (Janna Karel Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Star Wars and Golden Knights mashup at downtown art shop
Star Wars and Vegas Golden Knights fans attend the Boba Fett Golden Knight Paint Class at The Bubblegum Gallery in Las Vegas, Friday, June 29, 2018. (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
Bark-Andre Furry meets Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog
Two of NHL's furriest fans met at the Forum Shops in Caesars Palace on Tuesday, June 18, 2018, in Las Vegas. Vegas Golden Knights superfan Bark-Andre Furry and Washington Capitals superfan Ovie the Bulldog shared a plate of meatballs and spaghetti with help from Logan, "The Girl with the Hat." (Marcus Villagran/Las Vegas Review-Journal) @brokejournalist
TOP NEWS
News Headlines
ad-infeed_1
ads_infeed_2
Local Spotlight
Home and Garden Video
Add Event
Home Front Page Footer Listing
Circular
You May Like

You May Like