1 out of 5EasyRequires only basic carpentry skills
$110 for a two-story ladder; $150 for a three-story ladder
1 to 2 hours
In this video, Ask This Old House general contractor Tom Silva helps a homeowner install an emergency escape ladder.
Steps for installing a fire escape ladder:
- Take the template that comes with the fire escape ladder and tape it to the wall centered beneath the window and 6 inches below the window stool.
- Use a level to ensure the top of the template is perfectly level.
- Cut along the dotted lines on the template with a utility knife.
- Remove the template and finish cutting through the drywall along the scored lines.
- Pull out the severed piece of drywall and cut away any insulation from the rectangular hole.
- If there’s a stud in the opening, cut it out with a reciprocating saw.
- Make the first cut through the stud 3 inches below the bottom of the opening.
- Cut the top of the stud flush with the top of the opening.
- If the rough sill protrudes into the opening, make a series of closely spaced cuts into the underside of the sill, then chop out the waste with a hammer and chisel.
- Cut short pieces of 2×4 to fit inside the wall to provide solid nailing for the fire escape ladder. Secure the pieces with 3-inch screws.
- Press a thin piece of foil-faced insulation into the opening to act as an insulating thermal break.
- Remove the fire escape ladder from its metal box, then set the box into the opening.
- Bore a ⅛-inch-diameter pilot hole through each of the four mounting holes.
- Attach the box to the opening with four ¼-inch x 2½-inch lag screws. Secure the fire escape ladder with the two top screws.
- Drop the ladder out the window, and then have someone outside climb up two or three rungs of the ladder.
- While the person remains standing on the ladder, check the lag screws inside the metal box to ensure the ladder is being held securely in place.
- Retrieve the ladder, fold it up, and tuck it inside the box.
- Snap the protective cover onto the box to conceal the ladder.
- Patch the wall with spackling compound, then prime and paint.