Bunnings logo with a piece of holly.
Project listShopping cart

Sign in to your account

Project list

Sign in to your account

An attic ladder ascending into a ceiling in a hallway

Overview

Make the most of all of that space in your roof with an attic ladder. Whether you already have an existing cavity in your roof or need to create a new one, we'll show you how to safely frame and install a ladder to suit your needs.

Steps

1Prepare the attic opening in your ceiling

Measure the width and length of the attic ladder. Then determine the centre point in your hall for the ladder. Measure half the width of the attic ladder from the roof centre line to one side. This will be where one side of the cavity is. Repeat the process at the other end to get a clean line for the opening edge. Use a level to join the marks for your first length line. Repeat the process on the other side then mark out the lines for the ends of the cavity.

A person measuring across a ceiling from an exposed rafter

2Cut the attic opening in your ceiling

Cut along the lines with your plasterboard saw, making sure there are no cables or pipes in the roof where you are cutting.

A person cutting a hole in a ceiling using a plaster saw

3Create your framework around the opening

Work out whether you need to remove any ceiling joists in your cavity. If you do, make sure they aren't load bearing. Measure and cut noggins, which are horizontal pieces of timber around the frame, and fix them to the bearing boards. This will reinforce the area and prevent the ceiling from sagging.

A person using a nail gun to attach a noggin around a hole in a ceiling

4Put the ladder into position

Get someone to help you put the ladder up into position. Temporarily brace the ladder by hammering some scrap pieces of timber into the roof at each end. At the far end, nail the timber over the edge to help you to hold the ladder in. At the near end, the block should only cover the frame and not the door.

A person lifting an attic ladder into position in a hole in a ceiling

5Get the ladder into place

Square up the ladder against one of the noggins. Carefully open the door and attach the ladder casing to the ceiling frame. Make sure the ladder is straight before screwing in or nailing.
A person lifting an attic ladder into position in a hole in a ceiling

6Pack the unfixed side to square off the ladder

Next, the side that hasn't been fixed yet needs to be packed. Break some packers to the width of the ladder kit and insert in the gap. Make sure the fit is tight because if it's too loose, it will pull the frame out of square. Then screw the framing onto that side as well.
A person inserting packers into a gap between an attic ladder and a ceiling

7Cut the ladder feet off for a square finish

To ensure the ladder stands flush on the ground, measure from the ladder towards the ground and then cut that amount off the bottom step. Transfer that measurement from the join down. Then mark it off on the ladder and cut off the feet with a handsaw. Replace the plastic feet at the ends of the attic ladder.
A person marking a line on the feet of an attic ladder

8Finishing touches

Now go back and screw in any more screws that you missed because the ladder was folded up. After ensuring everything is square and the ladder closes okay, you can remove the temporary blocks. To finish, put architraves around the cavity to clean up the job and you're done.
An attic ladder ascending into a ceiling in a hallway

Suggested products

More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.