Do you have a tight attic space, and need to get some equipment up there? If so, you’ll want to build an attic access door. You can do this by installing a standard exterior door that swings out from the house. This article will show how it’s done!
1. Measure the height of your attic to determine the size of the door you need.
When measuring the height of your attic, you need to determine two values – overall height, and over-all width. The over-all height is the total vertical distance from top to bottom. This includes any obstructions in your way, such as rafters or beams that stick out into the space. Measure this value at three locations around the opening in order to get an accurate idea of its size.
The over-all width is the maximum horizontal dimension across your access door. This will be needed if you’re planning on bringing large objects up into your attic through this opening. You won’t be able to fit anything too wide through a standard 36″ exterior door, so measure it carefully to ensure everything will go through!
2. Build the frame for your door.
Once you know how big of a door you need, you can start building the frame it will be installed in. Use 2×4 lumber to construct a rectangular frame that matches up with your measurements. You’ll want to use pressure-treated wood for this part since it’s going outside and will be exposed to weather and other elements; if you’re adding insulation as well, make sure the frame is compatible with whatever material you plan on using (foam board insulation may require an air gap between the two materials).
3. Cut holes through framing members as needed.
You may encounter obstructions such as beams or rafters as you build out the frame; these should be taken into account when working on the framing members, ensuring that they’re not too close to obstructions and can still be attached. You’ll also want to add framing where necessary – inside corners in particular may need extra support in order to hold up when the exterior door is installed.
4. Fill gaps along one side of your frame with lumber cut at an angle.
You’ll notice that the gap between two pieces of 2×4 lumber isn’t exactly filled by a single piece; this will prevent drafts from passing through and around your access door when it’s finished. Cut a few scrap pieces of 2×4 lumber into triangles and attach them into place, staggering their joints so they don’t line up and continue the gap into another section of your work.
5. Embed the door frame into the framing member of your house.
You should now have a completely framed exterior access door; all that’s left to do is set it in place and secure it (and insulate, if you want). Measure where to cut your house’s framing members to accommodate, then use brackets or other supports to attach the new exterior door into place. You could even build out this section using additional lumber if needed – just make sure the outside of your finished project fits in with nearby sections!
The next step is insulation – depending on what you plan on doing with your attic space, you may need more than one type of insulation installed around your access door. If so, be sure to install the insulation before you cover the opening with your exterior door, otherwise you may have some difficulties.
In order to install your exterior door, use a full-length hinge on one side and a regular hinge on the other; add weather stripping around any areas where there might be gaps between the door and your framing members. You can then attach closer hardware at the top of the door so it will shut properly when closed. For additional security, consider adding a deadbolt lock near each of your ground-level access points (e.g., garage doors).
Thank you for reading this article! I hope it has been helpful in showing how to build an attic access door – please leave comments or questions below if you have any! Thanks again 🙂