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For access to the loft a ladder can only be used if you are onky using the roof space for light storage; most people will just keep the Christmas decorations and other clutter up there.
If, however, you are looking for something more permanent, then a ladder will not be sufficient.
This is because the Building Regulations prohibit the use of a ladder if you are creating a habitable room.
If you are creating a permanent living area or room than you will need to install fixed staircase access.
But, on the assumption that you are only using the attic for storage let's look at the different options that are available to you.
Just about all ladders are constructed in either aluminium or wood.
The alloy ladders are usually the cheapest to buy but if you’ve never used an aluminium ladder before you should be aware that they are very noisy when a person uses them.
Wooden ladders are quieter but tend to be more expensive, though many people prefer them to alloy.
There are several different types of ladders,the main ones being:
The sliding loft ladder.
Usually attached to the joists in the loft and can be found in either two or three section models.
Very easy to use and probably the most popular.
The folding loft ladder.
Does what it says on the tin. Or rather the rung.
The unit folds up, usually into three sections stacked on top of each other, and is a great space saver.
By far the most popular, and practical, option with the wooden variety being in the most common usage.
The concertina ladder.
The ultimate space saver though the least popular option and one which you may only wish to consider if the space is really limited.
We’re talking shoe box here.
All types must comply with British Standards of which there are two.
BS 7553 – G for occasional use
BS 7553 – H for heavy use
Which type of ladder you go for depends on personal preference, the space available and how often you are going to use it. And of course how easy it is to install.
In most cases it would be advisable to plump for a ladder that can handle heavy use – even if you aren’t planning to use it too frequently.
Remember that it isn’t just how often you will use the ladder that you have to think about – its also the weight of any loads you will be carrying up to the loft.
And don’t forget that once you’ve got your ladder you are either going to have to fix a new hatch or, if the original is in good nick, fit that with hinges.
If your property isn’t very old and has a trussed rafter style roof make sure you accurately measure the space above the hatch before selecting your ladder as the amount of room to work in is very restricted with this kind of roof.
Fitting The Ladder
No matter what type of ladder is to be fitted the basics are the same. The ladders brackets need to be fitted to the inside of the roof space.
They can be screwed directly on to the loft floor which has already been boarded, or to the joists.
After being fitted it is very important to check that the ladder is able to be folded up and down properly, and remains closed up once the hatch has been shut.
Another thing to be considered when fitting a loft ladder is the size of the existing hatch. If it is too small the hatch may have to be enlarged or a new one fitted.
When purchasing the new loft ladder it may be worthwhile adding a pre-made loft hatch to the shopping list.
As we have already pointed out metal ladders tend to be noisier than wooden ones when they are being opened up and closed. One way to avoid the clatter is to coat the folding section with candle wax.
For more info see the related pages below
Finding A Builder
Structural calculations for loft conversions are of course hugely important to ensure safety and that the proposed plans meet building regulations
What is the difference between planning permission and building regulations approval for loft conversions ?
Using And Fitting Loose Fill Insulation In Your Loft