attic ladder1 resized 600Installing an attic ladder can give you a significant amount of storage space where you didn’t have any before. For it to be useful, many people like to add a surface so that you can walk in the attic (assuming you have the space).

This can be a lengthy process as you can’t just throw some plywood on top of the joists.

There are a couple of pitfalls here.

  • You will have electrical cables and maybe even some plumbing or gas lines running through the attic across the joists.

So if you just lay plywood across them, you may pinch or damage them. You will need to add some furring strips on top of the joists to elevate the plywood. In this way, it will not touch the cables or piping. 2”x 2” strips are good for this. You can cut them to length so that they don’t interfere with the location of the cables or pipes.

  • Once you have the strips secured to the top of the joists, along comes problem number two: you can’t get a full sheet of plywood into the attic.

The standard size opening for an attic ladder is 22 ½” x 54”. If you are lucky, you will only have to cut a sheet of plywood one time down the middle of its length. That will leave you with a 24” x 8’ piece of plywood to pull through the opening. It will fit on a diagonal assuming the roof doesn’t get in the way of you pulling it into the attic. Once you have it in the attic, you can secure it into the strips on top of the joists.

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