Fitting an Attic Ladder

Filed Under: Do it yourself, Home repair, Remodeling    by: ITC

When you want to get into your attic there is no reason why you should not use an ordinary ladder, provided it is secured to the opening in some way – by hooks and eyes perhaps, but whatever you do, never use a pair of step ladders. In trying to climb out of the attic and groping for the top of the steps with your foot, you could easily knock them over, leaving you stranded, or worse you might fall with the ladder causing physical injury.

One drawback to using a normal ladder is that you will need somewhere to store it and you will have to go to the trouble of digging it out of storage every time you want to get into the roof space — or it may be in use elsewhere in the house.

A much more satisfactory solution to the problem of climbing into your attic is the proprietary extendable attic ladder. This sits just above the trapdoor on hinges or pivots screwed to the inside or top of the opening frame and can be pulled down whenever you need it. Such a ladder, with its own built-in storage, makes your attic much more usable and accessible.

Purpose-made attic ladders are usually produced in aluminum with 2 or Sin wide treads. Most have two or three sliding sections with a safety catch that must be released before they can be extended. Some are linked to the trapdoor by a special bracket so that they come immediately to hand when you open it up.

When closed, the ladder lies across the tops of the joists next to the trapdoor, but it swings upwards over the opening before it can be pulled down, so it is essential that there is enough height above the opening for this.

Another important factor is the size of the opening itself which must be large enough to allow the ladder to pass through. This is not usually a problem if you are making a new opening, but if you want to fit the ladder to an existing opening, you will have to take some careful measurements. You will also need to know the distance from the floor of the attic (not the ceiling) to the floor of the room below.

For extremely limited attic space, there is a concertina attic ladder that folds up compactly rather than sliding.

Attic ladders can be simple or complex in design with risers and balustrades just like a proper staircase. Most come with some form of automatic trapdoor catch operated by relatively light finger-tip pressure on the door itself.

Obviously, the method of installing an attic ladder varies from one make and model to another, but usually it is quite a simple procedure. Often all that is necessary is to screw the hinges or pivots to the framework of the opening (on the same side as the trapdoor hinges) and fit the automatic catch to the other side of the opening. There may also be travel stops to adjust on the ladder and a bracket to fit to the trapdoor to hold the ladder so that it is easily reached.

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