Read this before you start
Who needs more storage space? We all do! You may have an untapped goldmine of storage space just over your head, but it is probably too impractical to access. Of course we are referring to your attic, which unfortunately has only a small access door through one of your closets. Every time you need to get into your attic you have to clear out the clothes in the closet and find a stepladder. Maybe it is time to consider a disappearing stairway and put the attic space to good use. (If your attic does not have any flooring, you will need to get ½” sheets of plywood to create a platform to put the space into use.)
Folding stair kits are available in widths of 25” to 30” and lengths of 54” to 60”. They generally come pre-assembled and ready to install into a roughed-in opening in your ceiling. They are easily finished with a casing around the edges and a few coats of paint. Then easy attic access is just a moment away.
To plan this project, scout out the best location for your new disappearing stairway. Select the room you want to install it in and make sure there is enough room for the stairs to unfold easily. Then you need to scope out the attic. You will want to install the new stairway parallel with your ceiling joists. This way you should only need to cut 1 joist length to create your rough opening. In the area you plan to cut the opening, check for any wiring that may need to be re-routed.
Skill Level & Time
• Beginner - 5 to 6 hours
• Intermediate - 4 to 5 hours
• Advanced - 3 to 4 hours
This project is not recommended if you have trusses or limited standing room in your attic.
Always wear eye protection when working with power tools and striking tools.
If you do not have a floor in your attic, be careful as you walk around up there. Lay a few short planks across the joists to give yourself a place to work and put your tools on.
When building the rough opening in your ceiling, be sure to double-up the headers on either end of the rough-in frame as explained in the steps below.
Using a hammer and nails to install the rough opening can cause your drywall to loosen or crack. Use a screw gun and long screws instead.
When cutting the drywall in your ceiling, put down a drop cloth and turn off your HVAC system. This will help control the dust.