How to Install Loft Ladders: The Complete Homeowner’s Guide

Are you interested in installing a loft ladder in your home? Maybe you just finished the attic and need a safe way to get up and down. Perhaps you just need to replace the loft ladder that came pre-installed with the house.

Whatever the case might be, installing loft ladders isn’t hard. All you need to do is follow the tried-and-true steps.

However, there are several things that you should know before and during the loft ladder installation.

See below for an in-depth guide on what you should know about installing loft ladders in your home. Be sure to consider them all as you begin the process!

1. Gather Some Help

If you plan to perform a DIY loft ladder installation, then you’ll want to make sure you have the proper headcount for the job.

Installing the attic ladder shouldn’t take any more than 2 to 3 people. The main reason is to ensure you have someone in the attic and on the floor at all times.

If you were to fully close the ladder while you’re in the attic, you might risk getting stuck in the attic without anyone there to open it.

2. Find the Right Location

For some of you, there’s already a pre-installed opening for which you have access to the attic above. Others of you don’t currently have an opening or you want to create one that’s more accessible.

There are a few important factors to consider when choosing the right location. First, don’t ever put the opening too close to an exterior wall. If you do, you might not have the headspace to safely climb up to the loft.

Second, be sure to check the positioning of your ceiling joists. Most traditional homes will have ceiling joists that are 100 x 50mm, but it’s always better to double-check.

Last, consider the area that the ladder will be when it’s down and locked into place. Is it taking up too much space? Will it be in the way? 

3. What Material Will You Use?

Generally speaking, loft ladders are made out of two different materials: wood and aluminum. The material that you choose will play a bigger role than you might think.

First, you should consider which one will fit your home’s aesthetic. If the material is too different from the layout of your home, then it will stick out like a sore thumb.

For example, if the walls of your home have crown molding and chair rail along the walls, then you might want to shop for wooden loft ladders to match the theme.

Next, you’ll want to consider the style of the loft ladder. There are scissor-style loft ladders, folding loft ladders, telescopic loft ladders, and so on.

You’ll also want to think through things such as handrails. Will every member of your household be able to safely climb the loft ladder that you install? Will a certain style of ladder be better suited for your home’s layout? Take the time to decide.

4. Cut a Hole and Attach Header Boards

Now that you’ve found the right location to install your loft ladder and found the right material of ladder to use, it’s time to cut a hole.

Be sure to get the right loft ladder dimensions in order to cut the right size of the square that you’re installing. Use chalk to give yourself an outline you can follow as you cut the hole.

Next, cut the right size of header boards (usually 2 x 6 will do) and attach them using a nail gun. 

Once the header boards are in place, you’ll want to create support boards to place underneath the hole you’ve cut. It’s important to do this step before installing the ladder.

Purchase 1 x 4 support boards that you can outline the hole with. Leave around 1/4 of an inch so that the attic header boards can sit on.

5. Wedge the Ladder and Support Boards

The support boards that you’ve just installed will be what you place your loft ladder on top of. 

Before you wedge the ladder and attic assembly into place, be sure to have someone on the floor level pull the legs of the ladder down to fully extend the hinges. 

Use a level to ensure that the frame, hinges, and ladder is level. Shim the wedges in between the stairs and the ceiling joists. Once they’re finally in place, be sure to double-check that the shims are tight and don’t jostle.

6. Fully Extend the Ladder

Now that the shims are secured, it’s time to make sure that the ladder fits from the attic down to the floor below.

If you notice that the ladder doesn’t reach all the way down to the floor, then you’ll need to exchange your ladder for the right size. 

More than likely, your ladder might be too long for the distance between your ceiling and floor. If that’s the case, then you can cut the bottom section and get it to flush perfectly with the floor. 

Make proper measurements to ensure that you’re cutting them the right length. It’s better to make a few edits than cut too much off and the loft ladder end up being too short.

Follow These Steps When Installing Loft Ladders

Now that you’ve seen all the proper factors to consider and steps to take when installing loft ladders, it’s time to get the project in motion.

Take the time to find the right loft ladder for your need. Consider the size, aesthetic, purpose, and so on to get the perfect attic ladder for your intended use of it.

Be sure to browse our website for more articles on loft ladders, as well as many other helpful topics.