Pull Down Staircase Installation

Looking for good materials on the proper installation of pulldown staircases …:mrgreen:

There isn’t any cut-and-dry method. You will no doubt have to cut at least one ceiling joist and maybe up to three, depending on the direction of the joists, their spacing, and the direction that the folding stair must take. Depending on the span, depth, spacing and species and grade of wood used for the joists, and the position of the access stair relative to the joist supports, you’ll have to header the ends of the opening, maybe with a single piece, or maybe a double, and you may also have to double up the joists on the sides, or maybe add another joist or two bwteeen two existing joists, and install joist hangers. So what I’m saying is, it could range from structurally very simple to structurally complicated, depending on all those factors.

I’m not saying you need an engineer, but at least the advice of someone who is well experienced in framing should be sought, if you do not have such expertise. If you know a good engineer or a competent architect, so much the better. Or you might find an architect or engineer who will treat this as a routine consulation and do it either very inexpensively, or as I would, for no charge. It only takes about a minute to do the calculations required. Good luck.

Find a manufacturer and get the instructons from there. that is the easiest thing to do. I can tell you that in my area that 80-90% are installed incorrectly in some way. The items I find most are:

  • Improper nails or screws. I often see drywall or deck screws used not the proper 16d nails or 1/4"x3" lag screws.
  • Improper nailing pattern. Many times manufacturer will have sticker that says, “PUT NAIL HERE DUMMY”
  • Legs not cut properly.
  • Frame not headed off properly
  • Gaps at hinges
    *]Loose hinge bolts
    Hope this helps




Numerous guides and instructions available here:

FYI this is not DIY, unless you are very familiar with ceiling/roof structure framing.

Hell, half or more that I see installed by “professionals”, using that term VERY loosely, are wrong in some form or fashion and compromising the structural integrity has been posted on numerous threads, concerning these.

Nice graphic Shawn but you need one with the drywall screws through that label :wink:
I’ll look for one.

You’re in Wisconsin with high winter degree days…I’d recommend replacing them with a pre-built weatherstripped, insulated attic hatch (unless the attic is a heated area). Pull down stairs are about the most inefficient things I have seen…hard to weatherstrip and insulate well.

Brian, here is an example of just what you described except in reverse.
The attic temp. was 146f and the heat was just coming through the pull down stair, imagine the heat loss in the winter.


If the 98.1 deg registering in the upper left of the image is the lower surface temperature of the stairs hatch, then it’s time to do something. That temp is in the operating range of radiant ceiling heat…no need to have it “on” in the summer to drive the A/C system into overtime. Thanks for the image.

No problem Brian, I should have had my range and focus set better on the camera, but I’m just getting use to it. The client said this is the hardest room in the house to heat, wonder why?

Also found missing insulation in the kitchen ceiling.

Had a draw inspection the other day and for the first time in 3 years not only was the pull down fire rated but it was installed with nails. On site was a female framing crew that was rocking, doh’t know if that has anything to do wtih or not. :smiley:

Here’s today’s note the craftsmanship of the joist hanger installation for the stair rough in that has to be by the book, NOT and I guess we’ll have to print all instruction labels bilingual from now on. The screw location looks intentional to me.

The vast majority of female construction workers I’ve met took painstaking pride in their work.

That picture with the screw in the label is great!!! Classic :roll:

Necesita clavos aqui, entiendo?

Thanks for the great pointers!

LOL, I get a kick out of those blatantly ignored warnings, especially the one that has the screw drilled through it.