DIY – How to Install an Attic Drop-Down Closet
Do you want more closet space? Then how about building up? Is there room in your attic? Would you like to learn how to build a DIY drop-down closet? Learn how to create a custom DIY drop-down closet with these easy step-by-step directions:
Step 1: Measure the Attic
Inspect the attic to ensure that there's sufficient clearance and to determine the best location for the closet structure. The opening for the drop-down needs to be between two ceiling joists. Take accurate measurements to ensure the right location and fit, and then transfer the measurements to the ceiling below. Drill small pilot holes through the ceiling to mark the four corners of the opening. Use a straightedge and pencil to scribe a line between the holes to serve as a guide for cutting. Standard ceiling joists are 24 inches on center, so this cut-out is the full 22 inches between the joists. The length of the cut is 3 feet, in this case it is based on the height of the closet design, the pitch of the roof and support trusses.
Tip: Make sure to get assistance as needed throughout the duration of this project. You may need one or two helpers.
Step 2: Cut the Drywall
The best tool for cutting into drywall is a keyhole saw. Make sure the area above the cut-out is clear of wires, ductwork or other fixtures. Insert the tip of the saw into one of the holes and begin cutting, following the lines as a guide. Go slow and easy with the saw and avoid "forcing" the blade. Once the hole is cut, remove and discard the drywall piece.
Step 3: Create the Closet Box
Build the box framework for the closet using 3/4" birch plywood. Cut the pieces for the frame using a table saw and secure them together with wood glue and nails, then reinforce the seams with screws. Once the four sides of the box framework are together, install an upper shelf and then add a side piece to enclose one side of the upper compartment. The opposite side of the box is left open as the access side. Once the boxes is complete, prime and paints it and install a standard closet rod for hanging clothes.
Step 4: Construct a Box to House the Closet
Construct a second box, slightly larger than the dimensions of the closet framework, to serve as the enclosure for the closet. The outer box helps guide the closet structure up and down and keeps attic dust off the clothes and other contents. Since this second box will remain in the attic, it can be built out of rougher-grade AC plywood. Like the closet structure, the outer box is cut to maximize the vertical height between the opening and the roof. Secure the enclosure in the ceiling opening by screwing it directly to the joists so that it extends vertically into the attic. Leave the lid of the enclosure off during installation to allow for installing the cable that will raise and lower the closet.
Step 5: Create the Pulley System
Attach the cable to the top of the closet using an eyelet, and pass the cable up through the opening in the ceiling. The cable is threaded through a pulley that's attached to the outside of the enclosure box's lid. Plastic runners installed in each corner of the attic enclosure serve to guide the closet smoothly as it's raised and lowered. The cable used for this project is rated to hold up to 800 pounds. Leave plenty of extra cable length during the installation. It will be cut to length once the installation is complete.
Step 6: Lift the Closet Framework into the Attic
Lifting the closet framework into the attic is a three-person job: two below to lift the closet up to the opening and another in the attic to help pull it into the attic. Once the closets is lifted up and into position inside the enclosure, add temporary supports of scrap lumber, attach to the ceiling with screws, this will hold the box in position while the garage-door system is completed.
Tip: Always make sure to follow proper safety pre-cautions.
Step 7: Attach the Pulleys to the Trusses and Framework
In the attic, pulleys are secured to the roof trusses to hold the cable in place and connect it to the garage-door track. Attach the door opener to the track following the manufacturer's instructions.
Tip: If you're not familiar with installation of a garage-door opener, it's best to leave this part of the installation to a professional.
Step 8: Remove the Excess Cable
Once the system is installed, trim away the excess cable. When the closet and lift system are complete, the box structure can be lowered into the bedroom to access clothes and raised up to be concealed in the ceiling. The closet is raised and lowered by means of the remote control for the garage-door opener.