Having access to an attic or a room directly under your home’s roof is what an Attic ladder is designed for. They fold up and store conveniently out of the way, yet when needed they give you quick and easy access. That said, there are many different makes and styles of attic ladders and stairs you can choose from.
The most common type is the wooden loft ladder. This type of ladder is found in makes that fold up, are telescopic or an accordion design. You’ll find them made from everything from pine wood to oak and others as well. In fact, many people elect for a custom made loft ladder to give their home a distinctive look and feel.
With any of these ladders, you can find they will either permanently attach to the loft, or they may be fastened right to the side of the loft opening. Which model is right for you is only a matter of personal choice.
Here’s a video on how a folding loft ladder works:
Table of Contents
- Versa Lift Attic Ladder Safety Railing
- Wooden Attic Ladders
- Telescopic Loft Ladder
- The Convenience Of Electric Loft Ladders
- Recommended Attic Ladders
- Folding Attic Ladder – 3 Tips For Selecting The Right One
Versa Lift Attic Ladder Safety Railing
Using your loft ladder to gain access to the attic can often be a bit hazardous at times. Going up the narrow ladder and trying to carry down boxes can be a little tricky for just about anyone. This is where the Versa Lift Attic Ladder Safety Railing can make things much safer.
This safety railing is designed to fit around five of the commonly used ladder opening sizes and not only provides a railing to hang onto but because it has a floor bump that goes all the way around the opening, you’ll always know where the edge of the opening is. This means you won’t accidentally step over the edge.
The thing I like the most about this Versa Safety Railing is that I have something to hold onto when I get up to the top of the attic or loft area. It gives you a more secure and more confident feeling when going both up and down the ladder.
The rails are made of solid steel and built to fit openings from 54-60 inches long and 22.5-30 inches wide. So it will fit just about any size of loft opening.
You’ll also find dual grab bars that make getting up and down easier. What these bars will do is make it possible for you to begin going down the ladder without having to get down on your knees, or even bend over to take your first step. It’s always that first step that is the trickiest, but with the grab bar, it’s a breeze.
Installing this Versa Lift Railing is simple enough for anyone with even the most basic of handyman skills. All you need are some basic tools to bolt it into the existing studs and an hour or so of time to get it set up and ready to go.
Finding this safety railing kit in home improvement stores can often be challenging. Your best bet is to shop online at websites such as Amazon, which has it for the lowest price I’ve found online.
Wooden Attic Ladders
When it comes to choosing a ladder to get up into the attic or a loft, you have a lot of different choices in styles and materials. One of the most common ones being a wooden loft ladder. That said, here are some things to you want to know about them.
Before going out and choosing one to buy, take a moment to consider the style and design of your loft. This is because you’ll find ladders in various types of wood and wood finishes. You’ll want to match it up to your current appearance.
Next, do you want a folding ladder or one that is permanent? For just an ordinary attic space, a folding unit will work great. But for a loft area that is getting daily traffic, I’d go with a permanent ladder. It’s less hassle in always having to lower and raise it back up, and they are much safer since it is mounted with hardware.
Safety with any loft ladder is important. Don’t underestimate how easy it is to slip or fall on the ladder. They make these with handrails and even rubber on the steps to help them with better safety. You might want to keep that in mind when you go to get one.
One of the things about a wood loft ladder is that would crack over the course of time. You’ll want to check it from time to time to see if any cracks have developed or hardware has come loose, etc. It happens even to the best of them. The last thing you want to happen is a major accident that could have been prevented with a quick inspection.
By taking a few extra minutes to think about your needs in a ladder, as well as the design of the space, you can make the right choice in any wooden loft ladder. Once you know what you need you can go online to one of many sites and find exactly what you want.
Telescopic Loft Ladder
When you have a very small opening, or an area like a closet, where you need access to get into your attic, a telescopic loft ladder is an ideal solution. This ladder is specifically designed for tight openings. That said, one of the more popular telescoping ladders is one from Werner.
Werner has been making ladders of all types for over 60 years now, and this model is a solid choice for anyone with very tight space limitations. It is so much better than trying to use a step stool or other means to get up into the attic or loft area. I know, I’ve done that myself for years until I made the decision that I need a safer solution.
Aluminum Loft Ladders
There are some great advantages to having an aluminum loft ladder instead of a wood counterpart. The biggest is the fact this type of ladder will never splinter or crack. That’s a big benefit in using aluminum over wood, not to mention how much lighter they are. The question then becomes…which model of the aluminum ladder is best?
The Convenience Of Electric Loft Ladders
If you’re searching for loft or attic ladders, one of the types you may not have considered yet are the electric loft ladders. Just as you might think, they automatically lower and raise back up with a simple push of a switch. Why would anyone need something like this? There are several reasons that you’ll soon see.
Getting up and into the attic or loft can be a challenge on the best of days. Using a ladder or step stool is not only a hassle but downright dangerous. Standard loft ladders work well, but having to lower and raise them up is not easy for some people. This is even truer if you are using your loft on a constant basis.
You can find these loft ladders in either wood or aluminum and in various heights. I will say that wooden ladders are more expensive than their aluminum counterparts, but they also come in different finishes and can look quite nice.
How do Electric Attic Ladders Operate?
Electric attic ladders operate by either a wall switch that will automatically lower or raises it or through a remote control unit. The remote is an upgrade and will cost you more, but the convenience makes it worthwhile to many.
These ladders come with all the basic features you would find on a normal ladder. For example, you’ll find wide stair treads with rubber coated bottoms, handrails for added safety and other features as well. One of the most important things to look for is an emergency cut-off sensor. What this does is it will automatically sense something in the way such as your pet, or even your child, and stop before creating an accident. It’s a nice feature that I highly recommend having.
Although you can clearly see the benefits of this ladder, there are drawbacks as well. The main one being the electrical work. Unless you are skilled in wiring you’ll need to hire an electrician to wire it up for you. Not a huge expense, but one you need to be prepared for.
The other drawback is the cost. Expect to pay much more for an electric loft ladder than a standard pull down. It only goes without saying. This is why you need to consider how often you’re using the space before making a final decision.
You can shop for a new ladder through the internet or by visiting your local home improvement store. Generally speaking, you can usually find some very good deals online.
Recommended Attic Ladders
Louisville Ladder S224P Wooden Attic Ladder
Finding a loft ladder for your home is easy, finding one that is not only useful but easy to install is a different story. This is where the Louisville loft ladder S224P comes in. Here’s a look.
One of the nicer features of this attic ladder is how it can be used with all types of ceiling heights. Have a 7-foot ceiling? No problem. Have an 8.5-foot ceiling? Again, not a problem. This is not common to other makes of the attic or loft ladders.
The dimensions needed for the ladder to fit are only 22.5 x 54 inches, making it a simple fit for smaller openings. This Louisville Ladder also features an EZ-Hang strap that is exclusive to their line of wooden loft ladders. This aids in making the install much easier than other models.
Load capacity on this model is 250 pounds, including items being carried up or down the ladder. Again, this is more than adequate in most cases. On models with springs, the tension is adjustable, but on newer models, the company has gas cylinders to make it even better for opening and closing.
Steps include a wire rod under each one to give some added strength and support, although I’m not too sure it really makes much of any difference. There shouldn’t be any support problems for you on the steps as it is. But this is a nice added benefit that Louisville included.
The Louisville Ladder S224P Wooden Attic Ladder is backed with a solid warranty and meets or exceeds all U.S. Safety Standards as set forth by ANSI and OSHA.
Reviews on Amazon for this ladder have been very positive. Most users have commented on how easy it is to install, as well as how simple it is to use. All in all, if you’re looking for a simple solution for gaining access to your attic or loft area, this loft ladder from Louisville is well worth checking out.
Werner AA10 250-Pound Duty Rating Televator Aluminum Universal Telescoping Attic Ladder
As a do-it-yourself project, you’ll find this ladder to be pretty upfront and easy to install. The opening need only be 22 X 22 inches and the total time to install is roughly 2-3 hours at most. I want to mention that this unit does not include the door itself, although they do provide a handy template to use in making one yourself.
The instruction manual that comes included is very detailed. You won’t be guessing as to what to do next. That being the case, the instructions are easy enough to follow for anyone to put together. In fact, this loft ladder is designed to be a one-person job and it really is.
This Werner ladder features:
- 250-pound weight capacity
- Fits ceilings from 7’4″ to 10’3″
- Non-marring feet
- Ladder requires an opening of only 22 x 22 inches
- Wide 2-7/8″ steps
- Includes all hardware, templates, and instructions
Werner has been making ladders of all types for over 60 years now, and this model AA10 is a solid choice for anyone with very tight space limitations. It is so much better than trying to use a step stool or other means to get up into the attic or loft area. I know, I’ve done that myself for years until I made the decision that I need a safer solution.
Folding Attic Ladder – 3 Tips For Selecting The Right One
A folding attic ladder is a great way to not only gain access to your loft or attic but to also conserve space. That said, here’s what you should look for before purchasing any of the models of attic ladders on the market.
1. Weight Capacity – Be sure to check the weight capacity with any ladder for your attic because they will vary from model to model. For example, one ladder may have just a 200-pound capacity (which is a total of your individual weight and anything you are carrying up or down the ladder), while another ladder may have a 350-pound capacity.
Assess your needs and then shop accordingly. The last thing you want is to purchase and install a new ladder only to find out that you bought the wrong one.
2. Safety – This is a big key for obvious reasons. Regardless of the make or model, having an attic or loft ladder that is safe is most important. Look for models with handrails and stair treads to prevent slipping.
Also look for ones that are convenient and easy to use. What I mean here is to check out reviews from other users about how easy they are to fold down and put back up. If you get one that you have to struggle with in order to use it, then it really defeats the purpose.
3. Cost – The prices on folding loft ladders can range from around $100 all the way up to $300 or more. It depends on a variety of factors including they type of material they are constructed from, as well as weight capacity and many other factors. You really want to try and maintain your budget, but don’t skimp on what you truly need.
These three tips alone will help you make a better decision when it comes to buying a folding attic ladder. You can find reviews on our site of several of the top models to help you as well.
Q My attic is framed with trusses. What options do I have for converting it to living space?
A Trusses, used to frame roofs, are composed of many diagonal framing members fastened together to create a web – a network of wood that results in great strength and rigidity with relatively light weight. Unfortunately, trusses may prevent you from converting your attic to a living area unless the entire roof trusses are removed and replaced by a conventional pitched roof framing. This process is extremely expensive and time consuming, and mostly prohibitive.
Remember, do not alter trusses without first consulting a structural engineer. Removing any of the truss members will weaken the roof structure.
When building a new home, consider the future possibility of converting an attic to living space. This is an increasing popular strategy, allowing you to plan for growing family needs but delaying the construction until a later date. Speak to your architect and builder to accommodate for an attic living space at planning stage.
Q Can I put a bathroom in an attic?
A Yes, with careful planning. This means first assessing the condition of attic floor joists (existing ceiling joists) and strengthening them if necessary. This is particularly important if you want to include a bathtub. Speak to a building consultant or engineer to assess your plans and inspect your joists.
It is usually much easier to install a new bathroom near existing plumbing pipes and vent stacks, etc. This often means locating the new bathroom directly above an existing bathroom, kitchen or laundry. If it is not convenient to do this, you may need to use some imagination to gain access to drains, vents, and supply pipes. Solutions include concealing pipes in wall cavities , false ceilings, wardrobes , eaves or other out- of- the- way locations.
It’s a good idea to include a window in your bathroom for air circulation. If a window isn’t feasible, consider a vented skylight.
Q I don’t have a stairway to my attic. Where can I get space to put one in?