We have just put in an attic ladder in a shop. The problem is that we have a 10 ft ceiling and I can't reach it. What can I put on it to make it come down automatically with a remote control or switch?

My problem is not opening the hatch, but reaching the ladder itself. I can't reach the ladder to unfold it.

  • 7
    Could you tie a longer rope to the ladder? Jun 28, 2017 at 14:13
  • 19
    If hanging a long rope in the shop would be a hazard or an interference, then attach a metal handle or short loop of cord to the door and use a hook on a 4 or 5 ft long pole to pull the door down. A electrical mechanism would be very expensive and would be prone to failure. Jun 28, 2017 at 14:29
  • 4
    My attic ladder was sold with a 4ft rod with a hook on the end to pull the ladder down with (I also have 10ft ceilings).
    – brhans
    Jun 28, 2017 at 14:38
  • If you really want to electrify it (which seems like overkill), you might be able to adapt a gate opener or carriage door opener to do it. Though I'd be worried about safety.
    – Johnny
    Jun 28, 2017 at 16:01
  • I'd be worried about it not working then you're locked out.
    – Nick T
    Jun 29, 2017 at 16:21

5 Answers 5


There are kits you can buy, where you attach a metal ring to the door and then have a pole you store nearby to reach the ring and pull down on to extend the ladder


There are electric ladders exactly for this purpose. There is no cool video of this one

enter image description here

but the description says

These stairways are available in 2 different models. One is the S3000 Series which is semi-automatic meaning the door panel will open or close automatically, but the stairway sections must be manually folded or unfolded. The other model is the S4000 Series which is fully automated.

There seems to be a number of manufacturers, but at $3750 this one the systems are not cheap.


As Brhans and Machavity discuss re: premade products: make a hook.

You'll need a common hardware store J-hook, two eyes,and a 1" dowel.

Screw or bolt the eye into the bottom of the ladder. Screw the hook into one end of the dowel (predrill so it doesn't crack the dowel). Screw the other eye into the wall to give you a place to hang the dowel when you're not using it.

Use the dowel to hook the eye and pull the stairs down. It can also be used to nudge it back up.

  • I prefer d-rings to eye bolts for this, and I would also use a ferrule on the pole (a metal sleeve often brass) to further reinforce the weakened end.
    – hildred
    Jun 29, 2017 at 3:03
  • Then you'd pretty much have the product Machavity linked. In place of the ferrule you could use leftover 14AWG copper wire lashed. Jun 29, 2017 at 5:25
  • or string, or wet leather (which will shrink as it drys), but since I like crimped ferules on air hoses, I would use a ferule.
    – hildred
    Jun 29, 2017 at 5:34

My first thought would be a linear actuator. You can wire it up to a switch and when it is flipped, the actuator extends out to the length of its stroke. It might take some engineering to make the right mounting and brackets, but there are a ton of examples out there.


Of course, you wouldn't be able to pull the door down further than the stroke of the actuator, so you would have to take into consideration how much space you need to unfold the attic ladder and space to crawl up into the attic.

  • 4
    The problem is if the electromechanics fail and they're behind the hatch. If you have an alternate way into the attic, great. If not, you may have to pull out a Sawzall to make a new alternate hath.
    – RoboKaren
    Jun 28, 2017 at 16:36
  • @RoboKaren That is always a consideration. You could mount everything on the outside of the hatch (in the shop space), but it might not look right/good.
    – curt1893
    Jun 28, 2017 at 18:12
  • 1
    A manual way to open the hatch in addition to the electronic method would solve this issue.
    – user64688
    Jun 29, 2017 at 12:39

An extension to the pole and hook/eyelet would be to use magentism.

I'd consider a steel plate on the underside of the hatch, and a pole with a magnet on the end.

Or maybe the other way around so the magnet is permanently on the hatch and any steel-tipped pole would work.

To open the hatch you would pull the pole straight down, and to disconnect the magnet you'd slide it sideways off the metal plate.

Main advantage is there is no ugly looking hook poking out of the ceiling.

  • 2
    It might need to be a rare earth magnet in order to be powerful enough for its size to pull down, while not also pulling loose. And at that point you may have trouble disengaging it. Jun 29, 2017 at 16:12
  • @GalacticCowboy good point - the magnets of today are much stronger than the old red U shaped ones. To separate, you'd slide the magnet off an edge of the plate. However in hindsight I'd be worried about scratching the paint, so a chromed plate would probably preferred.
    – Criggie
    Jun 29, 2017 at 20:08

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.