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    Instructions to Install a Folding Loft Ladder

    Paul Jacobs, who owns touchstonelofts.co.uk, says you can open a world of storage space by creating easy access to your loft. Loft storage is great for those things you use only occasionally or once a year, like holiday decorations. By installing folding loft steps, you can create an easy way to get to your loft that is safe and unobtrusive.

    1. Check the location for your ladder to make sure there is enough room to open the ladder to its full extent and that the loft area has enough head room for you to enter. Check to be sure there are no electrical or plumbing components that may be in your way. If you need to cut away a joist to install the ladder, contact a licensed contractor or structural engineer to make sure installing the ladder will not compromise the structural integrity of your roofing system. Usually you can fit the ladder between the joists.
    2. Check the direction of the joists in your location and plan so the opening is parallel to them.
    3. Drive two nails through the ceiling from the loft directly along one joist. This joist will be one of the longs sides of the frame for the opening.
    4. Align the template that came with the ladder with the nails from the ceiling below. Trace the template onto the ceiling. If you didn’t get a template, measure for the opening and use a framing square to outline for the cut out.
    5. Cut out the opening in the drywall in the ceiling using a utility knife or hand saw.
    6. Cut two pieces of lumber that will fit between the joists for the headers of the opening. Use the same size boards as your ceiling joists. They can be anything from 2- by 4-inch to 2- by 10-inch boards. Place the boards between the joists and screw in three 3-inch screws from the outside of the joists into the edges of the headers.
    7. Using the measurement of the short ends of the opening, cut two 1- by 4-inch boards 2 inches larger. Nail the boards to the short ends of the opening (into the headers) on the ceiling side, protruding 3/4 inch into the opening. This will be your support for the ladder while you are installing it.
    8. Hand the ladder unit to someone in the loft and have him place it on the temporary supports. Be careful to keep the hinged side of the ladder on the correct end and fasten it to the framing according to the manufacturer’s directions.
    9. Remove the supports on the ceiling and support the unit by holding it in place. Carefully open the door, but do not extend the ladder.
    10. Have the person in the loft square the unit while you support it from below. Then have your helper finish fastening the unit according to the manufacturer’s directions. Once fully attached, trim the shims.
    11. Fully extend the ladder and trim the legs so it fits tight against the floor. The hinges should not have any gaps when the ladder is extended.
    12. Place trim around the opening and paint or stain trim and door.
    13. Each manufacturer will have its own way of fastening the ladder. Deviation from the directions may void your warranty.
    14. Because there is heavy lifting involved, if you have any physical problems, you may want to hire someone to install the ladder for you.