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Creating attic access

Ok, so we bought a house back in Sept. The previous owners added onto the living room, and created an attic space over that addition (the rest of the house has no attic), but didn't put in any way to access that attic space. We had a chimney fire and now need to access the attic space to replace the pipe. We also want to check on the insulation as we had ice dams this winter.

So, I assume the first thing I need to do is figure out if was done with trusses or beams since that will dictate the easiest size and shape of the access hatch? Is there anyway to do that with out punching a hole in the ceiling and looking?

Once I've figured that one, cut a hole of appropriate size, cut a panel in the required size, frame the hole with trim (attached to the ceiling beams/trusses with drywall to wood screws?) for the panel to sit on. Add some weather stripping to the hatch and insulate the hatch door itself?

Am I missing anything obvious?

(if there's already a thread on this please point me to it, I looked but couldn't find it.)

Re: Creating attic access

Perhaps the attic access can be made from the outside ?

Re: Creating attic access

There's not a good place for it outside.

Re: Creating attic access


Buy an inexpensive stud finder and drag it across the ceiling. It will become obvious which way the rafters are running. Electronic stud finders are quite accurate and can be had for less than $20.

Re: Creating attic access

Attic access must be a certian minimum size, check with your local building department.
Locate the direction of the joists, as described by ordjen.
Cut the drywall to size and remove.
Now you'll be able to look inside the attic.
To create an opening, double the joists that will create the outer perimeters of the access lengthwise, nail the new joists to the existing joists, cut the joist in between them for the appropriate width, and double block perpendicularily where the cuts end. Nail. Now you have the rough access opening.
You can install an access cover with a folding ladder built in - or - build a cover as you described. Finish it correctly, and you have a thing which is not an eye sore.

Re: Creating attic access

When installing pre-made fold down attic stairs, be careful of where the stairs will fold down to.

Most pre made stair kits come with pretty decent instructions. Available at the big box stores.

Re: Creating attic access

Not going to bother with stairs, there's not enough space for storage and the like really, I doubt there's enough space for me to stand upright even at the peak, and I'm short! and the square footage isn't much, but if we need to access it now, then likely we will in the future too, so its worth making the permenent access point.

Thanks for the help guys!

Re: Creating attic access

For future readers the minimum sized attic access hole is 22"X30" to allow a dressed-out Fireman with a hose to go in easily- this is code in many areas now!


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