Installing pull down stairs can be a difficult task. Before you begin take extra care reading the manufactures instructions as well as the safety warnings. A contractor should be called in to verify that the attic floor is sturdy, the location and application before you begin as well.
Tools and Supplies
• Step ladder
• Flash Light
• Safety Gear
• Drywall saw
• Framing Square
• Pull down Stairs
• 3” Wood screws
• Joist framing lumber
• ¼” boards
• Wood shims
• Paint or stain
Making the Rough Opening
Locate the ceiling joist that will be one long edge of your opening, once you have done that place two nails adjacent to the joist by driving them into the ceiling.
There are usually templates provided with the product for you to use for the rough opening, if for some reason you do not have a template you can use a framing square that is aligned with the nails to draw the opening.
Now take your saw and cut the opening in the ceiling. Only cut the ceiling material, do not cut through any joists that may be in the opening yet.
Framing the Opening
If your opening is between two joists then your frame work will be fairly simple. You will need to cut two small pieces to fit between the joists on either side of the opening (these are going to be your headers).
Take wood screws (approximately 3”) and secure these headers. You will need to place three fasteners into the edges of the headers to complete the frame design.
If you have an opening with an exposed joist the process will be a bit different. You will need to cut four pieces of lumber long enough so they can overhang the joists on either side by at least six inches.
Secure them together with the wood screws (3”) by laying one flat and standing the other on its end (repeated).
Once this is done you will have what is commonly referred to as a hog frame or hog trough. The frame will need to be placed perpendicular to the ceiling joist about two feet from either end of the opening.
Now you can secure the frame to the joist with the 3” wood screws.
Installing the Stairs
You will need to cut two 1×4 inch pieces that are wider than the rough opening. These will act as a temporary support for the stairs.
Now you will need the help of another person for this part. One person needs to stand in the room below the attic while the other stays in the attic. Place the stairs on the temporary supports; make sure you hinge the side of the unit in the correct location.
According to the manufactures instructions fasten the stairs to the rough opening, then have the person below remove the temporary supports and open the stair doorway with extending the stairs themselves.
You will now need to shim the stair unit until it is square. Make sure to trim any shims that are exposed, as well as trimming the stair legs until they sit flush with the floor.
Finishing Your Pull down Stairs
All you have left to do now is placing the trim around the stair opening you created, to cover the seam. Then you can stain or paint the stair way door and enjoy the results.