Cost to Install Attic Stairs


Compare the cost to install a pull-down folding stair by doing it yourself with the labor and material cost a contractor will charge. Find out what steps are involved and how to plan the job. Enter your ZIP Code to adjust the cost to where you live.

By Gene and Katie Hamilton

We've installed two attic stairs in homes we've owned, and in both cases stretched their livability by making untapped space usable. The foldaway stairs, also called a pull-down folding attic ladder, made it easy to access otherwise difficult-to-reach areas and created plenty of open storage space.

The unit is a complete framed assembly with a folding, sectional ladder designed to be installed in a ceiling opening. That's the rub: you have to cut a rather large hole in the ceiling - not a job to be taken lightly. The unit is bolted into the rough opening, then trimmed with molding and painted for a finished look on the ceiling. Stair units are sold at home centers and lumberyards in a range of ceiling heights from 8 to 10 feet; there’s also a 12-foot model that’s designed for high ceilings, which you’ll find in some new and older homes.

This is a job that requires having a helper on hand. While someone is up in the attic opening muscling the stair unit in place, you need to have someone else in the room below standing on a ladder to adjust the unit in place.

While you'll save a whopping 66 percent by doing the job yourself, we suggest you hire a carpenter or contractor, who will charge $647 to install a good quality, three-section, 25-inch-wide unit for an 8 to 9 foot ceiling. This includes the labor and material. The job involves cutting through ceiling joists and reinforcing them with headers without destroying the integrity and strength of the joists - clearly a job for an experienced professional.

Consider your options for placing the stair with a carpenter who will inspect the ceiling joists and suggest the best location for the foldaway unit. Ideally, it should unfold into a room or hallway and be easily accessible. Schedule the inspection with the carpenter during the day so you'll have light in the attic. Have a ladder, flashlight and measuring tape handy.

That sums it up. Knowing the average cost to install attic stairs lets you compare doing it yourself with what you can expect to pay a contractor. To customize the cost to where you live add your ZIP Code in the cost box.

Cost updated 2014

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  • DIY   34% 
  • PRO 66%