How to Build Wooden Pull Down Attic Stairs

Lead Image
  • 5-10 hours
  • Advanced
  • 250-800
What You'll Need
Wooden attic stairs kit
Tape measure
Set square

Pull down wooden stairs can help you open up your attic as a useful area. Once they’re installed, you can finish the attic with insulation and drywall and make another room for living out of it. If you prefer, you can simply cover the floor with plywood and use it for storage, which is something that’s always needed in any house. It’s a big job, and you’ll need to have help to fit the stairs in place. Life will be much simpler if you buy a pre-made kit of wooden stairs for the attic.

Attic Access

The first thing you’ll need is access to your attic. The size of the opening you’ll need to make will be in the wooden stairs kit. You’ll already have an access opening to your attic and you need to go up and see if this is suitable. Bear in mind that when you’re making the square to hold the stairs, you shouldn’t cut through more than one joist with the approval of a structural engineer. You definitely can’t cut through any joist that’s attached to a braced rafter. That’s part of the structure supporting the roof of your house.

When you’ve located a suitable space, make it out with your pencil and tape measure. Use a set square to ensure the opening is properly square. Measure everything several times to be certain you have the proper dimensions, then cut through with your jigsaw.

Preparing the Attic

You’ll be doing a great deal of work from the attic as you put in the wooden stairs. For that, you’ll need somewhere to stand. Lay plywood in the area around the opening and screw it in place so it stays firm. You’ll also need good lighting to see what you’re doing. For this, bring some light up to the attic and run the extension cords down through the opening. Plug them in.

Fitting the Stairs

To this point, you’ll have been able to accomplish everything alone. To fit the wooden stairs kit you’ll need help. Look at the instructions. You’ll need to start by installing supports all around the hole. This will give strength to the structure. Use 2 x 6 lumber for this, cut to size, and screw into place on the joists for added stability. After you’ve made this surround, you’ll be able to attach the mechanism for the top of the stairs. This is what holds it in place, and also the hinges that open after you’ve opened the hatch.


As you approach the final stage, you’ll need to attach the wooden stairs to the hinges. Someone else will have to hold them in place as you insert the bolts and tighten them. The last step is to have a hatch of wood cut to the correct size. Attach to the fame of the opening with hinges, and have a sliding lock on the other side. When you open the hatch the wooden stairs will open and come down.