How to Build an Attic Walkway Above the Insulation

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Attics are often left bare with exposed wood framing elements and insulation, creating a somewhat hostile environment. While you can navigate your way through an unfinished attic with careful steps on ceiling rafters so as not to fall through the ceiling below, a walkway composed of basic materials and minimal labor can provide a much easier and safer environment while allowing the use of the attic's abundant space for storage or other purposes.

Things You'll Need

  • Circular saw with carbide blade
  • Screw gun
  • 2 inch wood screws
  • Tape measure
  • Plywood (5/8 inch)
  • Chalk line
  • Saw horses
  • Measure and mark the plywood at 24 inch spacings along either direction, then stretch and snap a chalk line across these marks to create 24 inch strips. If you mark these lines across the long side of the plywood, it will create 4 foot strips that can be easier to move around in the tight spaces in the attic than strips cut in the long direction (most sheets of plywood are 8 or 10 feet long).

  • Set the plywood on the saw horses and line up the circular saw with the first cut guide line; you should cut strips off the end first (if cutting 4 foot strips) and place the saw horse under the larger part of the plywood so only the strip falls to the ground.

  • Repeat Steps 1 and 2 as necessary for additional walkway planks.

  • Set the first plank on the ceiling rafters closest to the attic entry. Most ceiling rafters are going to be spaced at 24 inches on center, so your newly cut 24 by 48 inch (or 24 by 96 inch if you cut the plywood lengthwise) plywood planks can be easily mounted in either direction on the rafters.

  • Center the edge of the plank over the rafter and drive a screw in each corner, and repeat on the following planks in any direction.

Tips & Warnings

  • For extra wide walkways, you can lay the plywood planks side by side to achieve a 4 foot wide walkway.

References

  • "Attics & Basements;" Matthew Paymar and Phil Schmidt; 2007.
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