How to Replace Attic Ladders

Old attic ladders can start falling apart after a certain point, which is why it is important to replace them whenever required. Through this guide, we will take you through all the steps that will teach you how to replace an attic ladder. Let’s get started.

Make Measurements

Before you remove your old attic ladder, you should measure its length as well as the dimensions of the opening so that you can figure out the precise requirements for the new ladder.

You can then buy your new ladder accordingly. If you already have one, then you might have to make the necessary adjustments to the opening itself so that it fits in place.

Gather Supplies

The next thing to do is to gather up all the tools and supplies that you will need to remove the existing ladder and install the new one. Some of these tools include squares, a drill, a hammer, support boards, screws, measuring tape, wrench saw and more.

Make sure you thoroughly go through the user manual that came with your new ladder so you don’t miss out on anything.

Remove the Old Ladder

Go through the following steps to remove your old ladder:

  • Detach all the nails and trims that connect the ladder to the opening of the attic.
  • Hold the ladder down in place either by installing temporary boards or by asking someone to help you out.
  • Remove the nails and screws that are attached to any of the attic boards.
  • Grab a reciprocating saw and remove the stairs of the ladder by cutting off the hinges on them.
  • Lower the ladder and place it aside.

Prepare the Opening

Check the opening once again to ensure that it can hold the new ladder in place. If there is any remaining trim or nails or screws, you should remove them. Measure the opening once again so that you can determine its compatibility with the new ladder.

Install Temporary Boards

Next, you should install wooden boards around the opening using screws that can hold the new ladder in place when you are installing it. This will allow it to stay steady whenever you screw in the other nails.

Usually, your user manual will describe this step in sufficient detail so that you can figure out what exactly to do, such as the size of the boards and their precise location.

Install Pull Rope

Your new attic ladder will usually come with a pull cord or rope that you must attach to the door of the attic. This tends to differ according to the brand, so make sure you figure out how this pull rope works and how to install it to the door.

Generally, you should place it through the hole of the door and keep its length long enough to allow you to reach it from the floor.

Center the Ladder

The next thing to do is center the ladder in place. The hinges should be on the correct side in a way that they rest firmly against the support door at the back. You can use the support doors to help you hold the ladder in place.

For this, make sure that you ask someone else to help you so that one person is in the attic while one is standing downstairs.

Secure and Pull

Drill in the nails and screws so that the ladder stays in place against the door. Two or three of these should be enough for the time being, as you can install the rest later on. You can then pull out the ladder completely to move on to the next steps.

Adjust Framing

The opening frame of the attic should be uniform in its length and width so that it is perfectly square. You can determine this by measuring the length of the diagonal corners or dimensions.

If the dimensions do not match each other closely, you will need to add a few shims to adjust the frame until they are equal enough.

Install the Ladder

You can now permanently install the ladder in place. Drill in some screws on the other side of the ladder and secure the previous screws tightly in place as well. If there are any other structures that your user manual highlights, then install those too at this point.

Move it around a bit to ensure that everything is firmly secured so that no issues can arise later on.

Establish Height

At this point, you should also detach the temporary wooden support boards that you had installed earlier.

You can then establish the height between the opening and the floor so that you can figure out if you need to make any other adjustments to the ladder and the stairs.

Extend the Ladder

Once you determine the height, extend the ladder by pulling out its folded half onto the floor. The feet should perfectly meet the floor. If the feet are given separately, you will need to attach those to the bottom of the ladder.

In case they are too long, you can cut the ladder legs using a saw before installing the feet.

Brush Up

That should complete the overall process. To finish up, inspect the structure and see if there are any protruding shims or extra wood in any part. If so, remove them carefully.

You can now also re-attach the trim around the door of the attic. If you want to paint the door, you can do that as well at this stage.

Add Insulation

You should install the necessary insulation covers such as caulk, foam or strips on either side. This will help fill up any excess gaps so that pests, air, condensation and more do not make their way from one side to the other.

Concluding Remarks

Those were all the steps you should follow to replace your attic ladder. Make sure that you wear the right safety equipment and carefully follow the specifications mentioned in the instruction manual, if any, so that you can keep track of the requirements for the particular brand as well.