Ladder Installation

1. Choose location, with possible consequence to choice of best ladder. A hallway will have least consequence of cut joists, and easiest compensation in crossing and doubling frames. Think of safety and comfort of egress in the attic, over easy approach at bottom. Symmetry of placement in a ceiling usually matters less than freedom to get around a deployed ladder in a hallway. Be very willing to not use the location of an existing opening.

2. Choose the ladder. Within living spaces, choose a ladder with a insulated, gasketed door. In a garage without fire separation of attic spaces, choose a fire-rated ladder. A pull-down ladder will serve at least cost. A wood ladder has best customization flexibility. Plan the ladder deployment to clear obstacles, and to reach the floor with shallowest-possible angle. Apply finish in multiple coats to a wood ladder.

3. Clear obstacles, and prepare the rough-opening frame.  Within living spaces and with need of insulation, use tall RO framing. 2x10 serves well in many cases. Block framing to bear loads during cut transitions. Follow local building codes.

4. Decide location in elevation, of the ladder frame vs. joists and the ceiling surface. With ceiling imperfections, it usually works to have the ladder door face slightly recessed, with its own sense of horizontal.

5. Cut the opening. Use dust barriers if needed. Protect floors with blankets. Plan cuts and temporary supports to avoid dropping materials and propagation into surrounding ceiling area. A well-set RO frame serves as a saw guide. Ensure the ladder frame will not load and break edges upon insertion, but avoid oversize opening. In living spaces, or a garage, the ceiling must be finished air-tight, fire-tight, up to the ladder frame.

6. Remove the ladder step assemblies, probably as a unit. Steps are unstable weight and obstruct access to screw the ladder frame to the rough opening.

7. Remove the ladder door for one-person ladder installation, especially if there is no other attic access. Leave the door installed if you can, to ensure the frame is square to the door, as the frame is attached. To remove the door, with the door closed, first detach each spring in turn. Spring tension may be hard to overcome, and that may be aided by detaching a limit arm from the ladder frame, and using the limit arm as a spring lever.

8. Install the door and frame assembly or just the frame, to the rough opening, working with shims, and if possible, with adjustment freedoms left in the RO frame, to minimize gaps outboard of the ladder frame. The door must work squarely within the ladder frame, as screws are finally set. Set the door angle adjuster (option) to chosen position, or to shallowest angle.

9. Install the steps assembly at highest position, up from the door top face and closest to the top, hinge-end, of the door.. A lower position on the door, if an option, may be set, if needed to reach the floor at chosen door angle.

10. With the bottom steps assembly removed or folded-back, measure the distance to the floor from the leading-edge bottom of the next-higher section. If greater than the length available in the bottom steps section, choose a steeper angle setting. If there was a planning error, and the received steps assembly (with three sections) can't reach the floor, use a kit or other resources to customize the ladder with a fourth section.

11. Mark the bottom leading edge of the bottom section, and sloped cuts relative to that, by template or by angle measurement. Test, cut and fit. Smooth the cuts.

12. Attach leveler legs, if employed.