Nobody likes climbing up into their attic. But you can’t deny how convenient it is to have all of that extra storage space.
So what do people even store in their attics? It’s the stuff they no longer need but aren’t quite ready to get rid of. So most people almost never need to access their attic.
However, there inevitably comes a time when you need to get up there and scour around for that one old, photo album or antique you are ready to sell. And in those moments, you’ll be grateful for a reliable attic ladder.
Older homes have ladders that are scary, wobbly, and downright unsafe. And they are especially unsafe if you are carrying a heavy box up or down the ladder.
If you want to avoid a broken leg, you need to buy an attic ladder that you can rely on. Read below to determine the best type of home attic ladder for you.
Where Is Your Attic Access?
If you’re a millennial, you may remember the show, Hey Arnold. It’s the show that caused many kids to ask their parents if they could move up into the attic.
To access his room, Arnold would pull a chain in the hallway upstairs, and a staircase was lowered from the ceiling, allowing him access to his bedroom, complete with a ceiling full of windows.
While your attic might not be the ultimate hangout spot like Arnold’s was, your access point is likely in the same spot. Many homes feature attic openings in the hallway upstairs.
When an attic is located in a hallway, you likely have lower ceilings, and less width to work with.
Some houses have attic access inside storage closets. In these instances, you don’t even need to install a ladder, as you can just climb up the shelves. Not sure why builders in the 1940s thought that was a great idea.
And still, other homes feature attic access in the garage. This provides the most space when considering what the best attic ladder is for your home.
When analyzing your attic entrance, consider the width of the opening, and of the room down below. And consider the height of the ceiling and how long the ladder needs to be.
Preassembled ladders come in predetermined lengths. So make sure to choose a ladder that is perfectly sized for your home.
Weight Rating of the Attic Ladder
Bigger ladders can generally support more weight. However, they add bulk. You’ll want to ensure the new attic ladder that you buy can hold the heaviest person in your home who might use the ladder. Add a little extra weight, to account for anything they may be carrying up and down from the ladder.
But the heavier the ladder you choose, the more weight your house needs to support. When installing a stronger, heavier ladder, additional framing and support beams may need to be installed at the ladder opening.
Consider Your Framing
The framing in your attic supports the structural integrity of your home. That means that you can’t change it in order to accommodate a ladder unless you plan on completing an entire roof and attic renovation.
So you’re going to want to choose a ladder that can be installed in your current framing. For many homes, this means installing them in the gap between two trusses. These are when beams or planks are connected via metal connectors.
However, if your attic just uses standard rafters and joists, you might be able to reorganize the layout of these, as doing so won’t affect the structural integrity of the home.
Ladders that can accommodate either type of framing situation are available.
The material of the ladder is another important consideration. You can opt for either metal or wood. Metal ladders are often made of aluminum.
Aluminum is strong, cheap, and lightweight. This makes it possible to have a ladder that can hold a lot of fo weight, but doesn’t weigh a ton and doesn’t require additional framing.
It’s also rust-resistant. This is an important consideration in, especially humid climates. Even in Florida, an aluminum ladder can last a very long time.
Wood is not a bad choice either. It’s cheap and easy to install and assemble. However, it can be quite heavy. For a taller ladder, wood might not be the best option due to its excess weight.
It’s also more prone to the effects of moisture, as it can expand and contract based on current humidity levels. Therefore, wood is better suited to drier climates.
Type of Ladder
Then you get to choose the actual type of ladder. There are a variety of loft adders available, based on your preferred folding style or step style.
Folding ladders are those that fold into themselves on hinges. Retractable ladders are those that extend straight out and are generally easier to use. For added effects, you can choose a scissor-style ladder, which looks super cool.
The type of step is another consideration. Some attic ladders will use flat steps, similar to a staircase. Others will use round rungs, which are the thing bars used on traditional ladders.
It’s easier to keep your balance, especially when holding weight, on a stair-style ladder. But rungs use less material overall and may be cheaper and lighter.
You can choose additional features for your ladder as well. Some will have a handrail that you can hold onto as you move up and down the ladder. And some even have insulation panels added to it, to prevent energy loss through your attic opening.
Because attic opening normal have gaps, it’s a huge source of energy waste in most homes. So an attic ladder that addresses this problem can help save you money.
Play It Safe
As you can see, choosing an attic ladder isn’t as easy as it seems. There are a lot of factors to consider.
Since attic ladders are a common source of accidents and injuries, it pays to do your research and choose a ladder that you can confidently climb up and down without any issues.
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