How Much Does Attic Ladder Installation Cost?
Gaining access to usable storage space in the attic is easy and cost-effective. Attic ladder installation cost averages just $490, with a range of $340 to $1,240.
- The typical cost to install an attic ladder ranges from $340 to $1,240, while the national average cost is $490.
- There are several factors that affect the cost of attic ladder installation, including the type of ladder, the cost of labor and permits, preparation work, the choice between a prefabricated and a custom ladder, and the cost for additional attic renovations.
- The main benefits of installing an attic ladder include easy attic access, increased home value, space savings, and energy efficiency.
- A handy homeowner may be able to install an attic ladder as a DIY project by using a prefabricated ladder and DIY installation kit; however, it can be a lengthy project that many prefer to leave to a professional.
When holiday decorations and seasonal toy bins start to overwhelm a home, it may be time to consider that extra space in the attic. But what if it’s hard to access? Many homes have accessible attics of varying sizes, and they can be ideal for storing rarely used items—or creating a cozy loft. However, if the attic is old, it’s possible that accessing the space is difficult. Installing an attic access ladder that’s easy to use and fits the budget will make storing those infrequently used items more manageable.
According to HomeAdvisor, attic ladder installation cost ranges from $340 to $1,240, including labor and materials, while the average cost to install an attic ladder comes in at $490. The price to install an attic ladder depends on the ladder length, material, labor, permits, and more. Prefabricated kits are available, but many homeowners prefer to have a custom attic ladder installed to suit their design preferences and available space. This guide includes the helpful details homeowners need to know as they consider the cost to install an attic ladder.
Factors in Calculating Attic Ladder Installation Cost
Most homes have a small access door leading to unused attic space, but it may be missing an accompanying ladder. Sometimes that door may be covered by a previous remodeling job, leaving homeowners uncertain about how to access the attic. In this case, homeowners can expect to pay more for a retractable attic ladder, since additional construction is necessary.
Other factors that affect attic ladder installation cost include the materials, labor rates, permits, and other attic renovations. These additional projects could be as small as framing the entry door or as complex as installing a new HVAC system, with the extent of the project affecting the cost.
Homeowners who plan to use their attic for storage purposes typically don’t install heating and cooling systems, but it’s a must if they plan to turn it into livable space. Alternatively, simply adding some insulation or fans can be sufficient for storing common household items.
There are three types of attic ladders: wood, aluminum, and stainless steel. Homeowners will want to consider their design preference, budget, weight, and physical strength when choosing a ladder for the attic. They’ll also need to evaluate the height from ceiling to floor, as that will affect the total cost of the ladder. Most ceilings are 8 to 9 feet tall, but a 12-foot ceiling requires a custom ladder, which can become costly depending on the material.
- Wooden ladders are the most common type with the lowest starting price point and the easiest to match the home’s color scheme. They can be heavy and prone to moisture problems in wet climates.
- Aluminum ladders are lightweight and the most affordable overall. A popular option, they can hold significant weight if manufactured properly and won’t require extra reinforcement in the ceiling.
- Stainless steel ladders tend to be the most expensive and are the heaviest option. They are moisture-resistant, fireproof, and ideal for high-use attic storage.
The best-quality attic ladders will have a minimum weight capacity of 250 to 300 pounds.
The labor cost to install an attic ladder may vary significantly based on the customer’s geographic location, the amount of construction needed, and any additional renovations. Installing attic ladders takes approximately 4 hours for most contractors, and they typically charge $60 per hour. Installations that don’t require extra or difficult work could take as little as 2 hours.
It’s possible that homeowners will need to acquire proper permits before installing an attic door with a ladder. The most likely scenario is that a permit is required when homeowners are doing significant renovations to an attic, such as electrical or plumbing work. However, homeowners can ask a contractor or architect about permits ahead of time to avoid problems down the road. A renovation permit typically starts around $150.
In a perfect world, a contractor would have to install only the attic drop-down ladder without additional work. But as with many other construction projects, there are often extra tasks that must be completed. This could include anything from widening the entry to rerouting any HVAC or removing insulation.
Some attic entries are too small and must have the door widened before the ladder is installed. This may require the contractor to cut away part of a ceiling joist, which will add to the labor costs. In this case, additional drywall, attic access framing, and even painting will likely be required to finish the overall look of the attic access. Homeowners can expect to pay about the same rate of $60 to $65 per hour for prep work.
Prefab vs. Custom Attic Ladder
Most attic ladders are prefabricated kits, which is what the range of attic ladder installation costs is based on. Prefab kits are usually sufficient for most homes with a standard 8- or 9-foot ceiling, even if a wider entry needs to be made.
Sometimes a custom attic ladder is needed when the ceiling is higher than average or when a unique design is preferred. Secret doors and ladders are appealing but do come at a higher cost. Homeowners will want to consult with an architect or interior designer to determine the best custom attic ladder option for their home.
Additional Attic Renovations
To make the attic more usable and temperature controlled for storing personal belongings, homeowners can consider additional renovations. Installing an attic fan to keep the temperature from getting too hot is a good option for homes in warmer climates. It typically costs around $380 to $880 to install an attic fan. Alternatively, homeowners in cooler climates might prefer to add insulation in the attic for an average cost of $1,700 to $2,100.
To enjoy the most climate-controlled attic, homeowners who live in more extreme climates might prefer to install a full HVAC system at an average cost of $600 to $20,000. This is a common cost to finish an attic and turn it into a living space, not just to maintain a steady temperature for storage.
Types of Attic Ladders
There are three types of attic ladders based on the materials from which they’re made: aluminum, stainless steel, and wood. Homeowners may prefer one type over another depending on whether it’s an attic ladder in the garage or in the house. Overall budget is another factor to consider, since the cost of each type ranges from $180 to $2,000, not including labor. The best attic ladders are likely to meet the necessary weight capacity, ease of use, and design aesthetic the customer prefers.
|Attic Ladder Type||Average Cost (Materials Only)|
|Aluminum||$230 to $580|
|Stainless steel||$380 to $2,000|
|Wood||$180 to $1,000|
Aluminum is a popular choice, since it’s a lightweight material that comes at an affordable price. This material resists rusting and corrosion when manufactured properly, and it’s strong enough to carry a hefty load. However, aluminum ladders typically come in only silver or black, which may not appeal to all homeowners. The average cost of aluminum attic ladders is $230 to $580.
A stainless steel attic ladder is an ideal choice for homeowners who expect to use their attic frequently. It’s the most durable material, though it’s also the heaviest and most expensive. However, stainless steel is resistant to moisture, which is a benefit for homes in wetter climates. Homeowners could pay between $380 and $2,000 for a stainless steel attic ladder.
Wooden attic ladders tend to be a popular choice for many homeowners who prefer a more custom look. The wood can easily be painted or designed to match the home’s interior. However, wooden attic ladders can sometimes be heavier than expected, and they are susceptible to moisture rot if the attic isn’t well insulated. The average cost of wooden attic ladders is $180 to $1,000.
Benefits of Installing an Attic Ladder
Installing an attic ladder is only one step toward using neglected attic space, yet it offers a number of benefits for homeowners. The convenience of a pull-down attic ladder makes it easy for homeowners to use additional space in their own home, and it can add to a home’s value and energy efficiency. Here are more details about the benefits of attic ladder installation.
Easy Attic Access
Some attics are built with an access door in an inconvenient location. It may be impossible to build a stairway to access the attic, or the attic is still too high when a step stool is used. Alternatively, the attic may be used on rare occasions, which makes the cost of building stairs prohibitive. Instead, an attic ladder that can telescope, or retract, into the ceiling is a more affordable and easy choice to gain access to underutilized attic space.
Increased Home Value
In terms of increased home value, it’s important to make a distinction between a simple attic ladder installation and a complete attic renovation that includes a ladder installation. For instance, if adding an attic ladder is only part of the overall project to create a fully livable loft, then the total renovation could add a 56 percent return on investment (ROI).
But just adding a ladder will not necessarily add measurable value—though it can make it more attractive to a prospective buyer. The added value is found in the addition of extra storage space and potential living space. If increasing the home’s value is important, then homeowners can consider what else they can do to improve their attic during the installation, whether it’s adding insulation, lighting, or fans.
In this age of consumerism, it’s common for homeowners to accumulate more goods than they frequently use. Rather than filling up needed living space, homeowners can utilize their attics for free storage. It’s a cheaper alternative to renting a storage unit that becomes a costly investment year over year.
Homeowners might also prefer to remove excess storage from their garage and move it into their attic. This allows them to keep cars inside the garage and protect storage items from bad weather and theft.
A drafty attic entry can be a source of frustration and extra costs. When homeowners budget for attic ladder installation costs, they may want to consider adding insulation around the attic entry. This can seal the door against hot and cold air that could otherwise escape. Adding weather stripping or a foam gasket are two additional options to help increase the energy efficiency. Ensuring a proper seal can help homeowners save money over time and make the attic space more appealing to a potential home buyer.
Attic Ladder Installation: DIY vs. Hiring a Professional
DIY attic ladder installation can be tempting to avid DIYers, since there are installation kits that come prefabricated. While some installation jobs can be fairly straightforward, others end up becoming a lesson in patience and fortitude. Homeowners often think it will take a few hours to install an attic ladder, when it could take the entire day or more. Sometimes there are many more steps than just installing the stairs, which can turn that 4-hour project into a weeklong ordeal of epic proportions.
As with most other construction projects, attic ladder installation is best left to a contractor who has lots of experience with the complications that can arise. If the entry needs to be expanded and there’s a ceiling joist in the way, for example, contractors have the know-how and equipment to safely expand the attic door. A contractor will also know how to accurately measure the space and order the correctly sized ladder that the ceiling can support. And even though most attic ladders come in a DIY kit, installing one safely and accurately is labor intensive.
If other renovations are included in the project, then a contractor or even an electrician is still the safest bet to install other elements like fans, lights, insulation, new flooring, and vents. Plus, they’ll be licensed and insured in case anything unusual happens. Rather than dealing with any of these tasks—plus the access door framing and painting—homeowners usually prefer to let the pro handle the job.
How to Save Money on Attic Ladder Installation Cost
Installing an attic ladder can be done at a relatively low cost, but it never hurts to find ways to stretch a dollar even further. Homeowners can use these tips to help reduce costs and stay within budget.
- Shop around. Obtain at least three quotes from reputable contractors to find the best quality and price for your budget.
- Choose a low-cost material. Choose a cheaper aluminum ladder if you don’t expect to use the attic frequently.
- Combine projects. Decide how much you plan to renovate to make the attic usable so the job can be bid and completed at the same time. Speak with a contractor about alternative options that stay within your budget.
- Buy a kit on sale. Shop around for prefab kits during holiday seasons, when there are more savings and deals available.
- Invest now for savings later. Budget a little extra for insulation around the access door for long-term energy-efficiency savings.
- Ask about discounts. Many companies offer discounts to senior citizens, military personnel, or first responders. Sales may also be posted on company websites or social media accounts.
Questions to Ask About Attic Ladder Installation
Homeowners may be uncertain about the process of installing a new attic ladder and the considerations they will want to discuss with a contractor. To feel more confident about the conversation, use any of these helpful questions when calling for quotes from local businesses.
- How many attic ladders have you installed before?
- Are you licensed and insured?
- Do you offer a free on-site inspection and estimate?
- Do you charge for labor only, or do you include the cost of the ladder and finishing materials too?
- What type of ladder should I install if I plan to use my attic a few times a month?
- How can I choose a ladder that matches my design style?
- What if my access entry is too small for a ladder installation?
- Should the attic ladder touch the ground or not?
- Can you also insulate my attic and add lighting at the same time? If so, what will that cost?
- What would you recommend to insulate the access door so I don’t experience drafts from the attic?
- What will it cost to install a custom ladder since my ceilings are higher than average?
- How long will it take to install the ladder (or complete all renovations)?
- Will your employees do the finish work with the frame, drywall, and paint?
- What if I’m not satisfied with their work?
- Do you offer a warranty for your work?
- Does the attic ladder come with a warranty?
With an average cost of $490 for an attic ladder installation, the project is relatively low cost and fast for a pro to complete. Still, there may be additional questions homeowners may have about attic ladders and what to expect. Here are some frequently asked questions and answers that can provide more insights into the process.
Q. How long does it take to install an attic ladder?
A pro can usually install a prefab attic ladder in about 4 hours. This applies to the most straightforward installations where the entry is already the right size and no unforeseen complications arise. (Ideally, the initial inspection will prevent surprises from happening on the day of installation.) If a custom ladder is being installed, this process may take longer.
Q. Do attic ladders need to touch the ground?
Yes, for safety and stability, an attic ladder needs to touch the ground. This prevents the ladder from wobbling while being used, and it alleviates any strain on the ceiling that could occur from the weight of the ladder or the person using it. Having the ladder touch the ground also makes a smooth transition for homeowners to step onto the floor with less risk of falling.
Q. How do I know what size attic ladder I need?
The height of the ceiling is what determines the size of attic ladder needed. Most prefab attic ladders are built for average ceiling heights up to 9 feet tall, but custom ladders are needed for ceilings higher than that. Ladders also come in slightly different widths, so it’s best to verify the entry measurements as well. This is where a pro comes in handy, since they’re experienced at making the right measurements and choosing an appropriate attic ladder.
Q. Do attic ladders increase home value?
On their own, attic ladders have a smaller impact on a home’s value than an entire attic renovation. The major benefit of an attic ladder is that it increases access to the usable storage space, which is appealing to homeowners and prospective buyers.