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How do I measure my existing pull down attic stairs or opening to replace them?

I have some broken (wood) pull-down attic stairs. What do I measure to find what to order here? I see all sizes, but none match what I think the size of my opening is. I am measuring the "cover" (the part visible when the stairs are closed, which fits neatly into the "door frame"-like framed opening in the ceiling). It's 24" X 52" and the ceiling height is 10'. But I find nothing that seems to match that for sale on the Home Depot site. Am I measuring the wrong things?
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Posted 2015-07-01T23:30:37+0000  by WmHBlair WmHBlair
Attic ladders are sized based on the rough opening.  That's dimensions between the framing of your attic joists, which is typically 24" on center.  So with a 24" on center and framing lumber being 1 1/2" thick, the dimension between the inside edges of the two joists is 22 1/2"  (24" - 3/4" - 3/4").  The length is simply the dimension between the two pieces of lumber that form the end of the opening.  I'd guess that you have a 22 1/2 by 54" ladder but...

Get up there and measure the opening.  Remember you're measuring the opening, not the inside dimension of the frame of the ladder.  The ladder should have a manufacturer's tag attached to it somewhere.  The model number should help you identify the ladder size as well.

Removing the old ladder and installing the new one is generally a two person job.

Posted 2015-07-02T12:13:42+0000  by Adam444

Hello WmhBlair, and welcome to the community!

I found a link to our vendor Werner Ladders, they have a web page dedicated to choosing a attic ladder & how to measure for it.

Posted 2015-07-02T15:30:04+0000  by Angelo_HD_CHI
Thanks for the explanation and the web site link. That was exactly what I needed to see to understand what to measure. I've been able to select the replacement ladder. I'll get one of my regular handymen to actually do the installation. But the information allowed me to select the best product offered by Home Depot for my specific need. Thanks again!
Posted 2015-07-03T01:39:18+0000  by WmHBlair

I saw this picture on Werner's website too and almost included it in my message:

Unfortunately it's not very clear because they show an already installed ladder.  If you measure the inside dimension of the installed ladder, the dimension won't be correct and potentially confusing.  The red lines in the same picture show the correct points to measure.  Of course, the long dimension needs to be done was well.

If the OP has a handyman, then the best bet would be just to let him handle it.  That way the responsibility for getting the correct size is passed to him.
Posted 2015-07-03T10:15:15+0000  by Adam444
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