Getting the Right Fit

You'll need at least three critical measurements: the width and length of the rough opening, and the ceiling height (image 3, left). Measure the rough opening's width and length in three different spots, at the top and bottom of the framing. Choose a stair that fits into the smallest of these measurements and is long enough for your ceiling height; you may have to trim to fit. For a folding or sliding stair in a closet or other tight space, you also need to measure how much swing clearance and landing length the stair will need when lowered. Drop a plumb bob from the header and measure out from it to find this distance.

Buying Stairs

Click through photos 4 through 7, at left, for a simple guide. Look for a stair with a load rating of at least 300 pounds, which have the sturdiest treads, stringers, and hinges.

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