Step 1: Cut out attic access opening

Cutting out attic access opening with a drywall handsaw
Photo: Karim Shamsi-Basha
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Snap chalk lines onto the ceiling to represent the rough opening of the attic staircase. This step is necessary regardless of whether you're expanding an existing hatchway or creating new attic access. Peek into the attic to make sure there aren't any ducts, wires or pipes in the way. Then cut out the rough opening with a drywall saw.
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    Tools List

    • drywall saw
      Drywall saw
    • drill
      Drill/driver
    • eye goggles
      Goggles
    • dust mask
      Dust mask

    Shopping List

    1. Sliding attic staircase

    2. Lumber to match existing ceiling joists
    used to reframe staircase opening

    3. 1x8s
    for building finished frame around staircase opening

    4. 1x3s
    used as temporary cleats for positioning the 1x8 frame

    5. 3 1/2-inch (16d) common nails

    6. 1 1/4-inch drywall screws or nails
    used to fasten drywall ceiling to framing

    7. Casing molding
    for trimming around staircase opening

    8. 1 1/2-inch finishing nails
    for attaching casing molding