So I need to install my attic stairs in a frame running PERPENDICULAR to
the attic joists (not parallel which is the easier way). So I'll be
cutting through 2 joists.
If you look here:
Read Step #2, specifically the last sentence which refers to Figure 3
(that's basically what I need to do), where it states "The double joist
sections shown in Figure 3 must be long enough to be supported by a load
bearing wall at both ends."
Here's my issue, the stairs will be installed in the middle of a
hallway, lined by 2 walls. Only ONE of those interior walls is load
bearing (supported by beams in the garage). The other wall is non-load
bearing (nothing supports it in the garage). So the only way I can make
the doubled up joists long enough to reach TWO load bearing walls is to
make it go ALL the way to the edge of the house so it reached an
exterior wall (that would be the 2nd load-bearing wall). That requires a
My problem....I can't get a 14' joist up into the attic.
-Is it possible to construct a 14' joist by somehow joining an 8' and a
6' joist? How? Assume that there is no way to support the 14' joist
except at the far ends of it, which will be resting on load-bearing
Of course, I may just say this is all way overkill since I'm only using
a folding aluminum staircase which really doesn't weigh much (compared
to the heavier wooden version) and I can probably get away with doubling
up the joists but just having it span two walls where only ONE is load-
bearing, and the other is just a regular non-load bearing interior wall.
Any opinions on this?
(After all, my neighbor has a wooden one and he didn't double-up
anything, and he's been using it for 15 years...)
Need clarification: "Only ONE of those interior walls is load
bearing (supported by beams in the garage). The other wall is non-load
bearing (nothing supports it in the garage)."
This hall is in the second story of the house above the garage. Is
that right? And is cannot be made to transfer a load to the foundation
because it's just some framing and drywall secured to the subfloor and
the ceiling joists. Is that correct?
Let's say that the left side of the RO can transfer weight via the
adjacent LB wall. The right side of the RO just rests on some framing
that's over the open space in the garage, so it could sag down the
ceiling of the garage. I have 3 ideas:
1. Down. Does not work to have a post in the middle of the garage.
2. Across. Probably not much shorter to put a strongback over the NLB
3. Up. Connecting to the roof framing may put a depression into the
What are your other options to locate the disappearing stairs other
than over the garage? I know that halls are preferred.
Tom- thanks for the reply. You are 100% correct in your assumptions. And
that's exactly the problem I foresaw, the POTENTIAL sagging of the
garage ceiling, which I doubt would EVER happen from the amount of
weight being put on it by 1/2 of an aluminum pull-down ladder, but then
again, building codes are building codes and I'm about as anal as they
First, RO & LB?
1. Down -> I already have 2 posts in the garage to bear the load of that
one interior wall, may eventually one day convert garage into livable
space, so, no more posts :-)
2. Across -> Correct, not much shorter...one guy at another forum
suggested putting up the 8' and 6', letting their ends butt up, then
securing them together with another 8' beam glued & lag screwed
together, to make it like a single piece, with the ideal solution being
to instead connect them with a 1/4" steel flitch lag bolted in a
3. Up -> Correct, I'd rather have to one day jack up the garage ceiling
and repair, rather than repair any roof damage in a worse case scenario
Hallway is preferred since I already have a scuttle hole there. Every
other room is a bedroom, kitchen, diningroom, or livingroom where it
would be unsightly and I'd get whipped by my wife.
Any other ideas? If no, just the abbreviation clarification :-). I can
try & break out my pythagorean theorem and see if I get somehow get a
2x6 14' long into the attic through the scuttle hole or through a 54"
hole since I need to rough-cut that anyway for the opening. I have 8'
ceilings, the attic is about 4' high before I'd hit a rafter, and at the
diagonal, a rafter is about 6' from the scuttle opening....I may be able
to squeeze it in....now comes the question of fitting it in my camry, is
it illegal to drive with the trunk open and about 6' of wood sticking
out? Otherwise about 8' sticking out a sunroof?
Here's an off the wall suggestion , not knowing the exact layout.
Build a triangular truss in the attic which rests between two load
walls and use it the way #3 solution was proposed -- to stabilize
the joist from above.....
Such a truss would not be as high as the attic ceiling and
would be a simple triangle, but I don't know the layout or if
the idea is even practical....
Just an idea.
RO - Rough Opening
LB - Load-bearing
First of all, a 14' 2x6 laid on its side will curve quite a bit, so
avoid any pieces with knots to do the following:
Transport: put a few blankets on the roof of the car. Lay the board on
the 5.5" face centered on the roof and centered on the length of the
vehicle. Front rope connects each end of the front bumper to the end
of the board. Rear rope connects each end of the read bumper to that
end of the board. Drive home slowly and no quick turns.
Attic insertion - With a helper in the attic, cover the far end of
the RO with plastic in the attic, add a little plastic on the ceiling
side of the near end of the RO to help the board slide. Use a 14'
piece of string to see how it's going to work. Helper will bow down
the leading end of the 2x6 as it enters the attic to avoid the
You are making a very basic error in your assumptions. The doubled
joist is not there just to support the fold down stairs. It will be
supporting the entire load that will be placed anywhere in the attic
above the joists you cut off.
Yes, you can make a built up joist. Takes more than one thickness,
really requires 3 (minimum) unless you make it a much larger (in depth)
one. You fasten a series of shorter 2x framing lumber staggering the
joints. I have done it. If your joists are 2x8 (say), the first run
would be a 6 & 8 laid end to end. Next would be three pieces cut so
you overlap the joint in the first one by a good margine (minimum 2ft
offset but more is better). 3rd layer is back to 6 & 8 but laid
opposite of the first one. Even better is to sandwich 3/8 or 1/2" ply
between each layer. Of course it also requires that you make liberal
use of construction adhesive and nail the p*** out of it.
Ooops. 2nd layer doesn't have to be 3 pieces. It can by two as long
as you can make a good lap on all three layers.
I was thinking of the one we built for my neighbor - 30 ft long
supporting the middle of a garage floor. Had the same problem of
getting long sticks into the basement.
Got it, basically sandwich the 8' and 6' joint (where the ends meet)
with two additional, figure about 4' long, 2x6's (same size), and liquid
nail and then 16d nail the crapload out of it from both sides.
Thanks for correcting my error, now that I understand it will be
supporting anything I store up there (and me when I walk around up there
to store things on the plywood floor I'll be laying down up there above
the insulation), I will make SURE to get either the 14' up there with
the excellent suggestions from Tom (thanks!), or build one up with your
suggestions. Thanks again!!!
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