In Alfred Hitchcock’s 1958 film “Vertigo,” the character played by James Stewart has an extreme fear of heights, acrophobia, and a false sense of rotational movement, vertigo. I suffer from neither of these, but am no fan of heights. Think of it as acrophobia lite. My fear isn’t so much related to height as it is to edges. Edges can terrify me. I realize it’s irrational, but trying to talk yourself rationally out of an irrational fear doesn’t work. I am no fan of cliffs.

Cliffs are easier for me to avoid than scaffolding. My current project needs every bit of the exterior worked on, and some of those bits are high up. Replacing an attic window 28' above grade requires a stable place to stand. In this situation scaffolding made the most sense. The gable peak is an additional 11' above the base of the attic window. I’ll use the top of the scaffold as a platform for an 8' step ladder, and possibly a small extension ladder.

To keep me calm at the top of the scaffold, and to create a stable platform for ladders,

I create a floor. The floor in this case is made up of 2 x 12's completely filling the top tier of the scaffold. My goal is to create not only a stable surface, but also a visually solid surface. If I can’t see the drop off the edge, I’m not scared of the drop off the edge. A solid surface is safer, more efficient to work from, and for me, really the only good option.

I access the surface by climbing out the attic window. Going directly from the stable attic floor to a stable work base is helpful. Climbing a ladder on and off the platform would continually put me in direct contact with the edge, so I avoid that option.

In addition to a solid platform underfoot, the scaffold needs to be stabilized. This involves having a connection between the scaffold and house. I had a few 2" pipe hangers on-site and they’ve proven to make great stabilizers. The pipe hanger end attaches to the pipe staging, and the strap end gets fastened to the house. If I do need to set a small extension ladder on my upper tier of scaffold, I’ll screw a cleat down to keep the base from kicking out.