Loft Ladders: Why and How to Upgrade Yours

Have you ever struggled to carry a heavy or bulky item up to your loft? Chances are, then, that you noticed how rickety and inadequate your current loft ladder is. Loft ladders don’t always seem to be designed for heavy or frequent use. If this is the case with yours, or if you’re considering upgrading your loft from storage space to living space, there are a number of important issues to consider. It’s wise to have a plan because if you’ve ever tried to do a major home renovation without one, then you’re very well aware how difficult it can be. Many people in your position have successfully made better use of their loft space by upgrading their loft ladder. This post will explain why such an upgrade is the first thing you should do, and how to take the correct measurements so that it’s done right.

Loft Ladders: Key Features to Consider

If you’re shopping for loft ladders, take a few minutes to think about how you’re using the space now, and how it might be used in the future. The ideal way to ensure you acquire the right ladder for your particular needs is to do some research on what sort of loft ladder will be adequate for your specific needs. Be sure that your new loft ladder will allow you to make the best possible use of the space. If it doesn’t, then it’s not likely that you’ll fully exploit your loft’s potential. A strong and sturdy loft ladder is essential, because safety is the primary concern. You should also think about the maximum load the ladder will bear. This is the total of your weight plus the weight of the heaviest object you plan to move to or from the loft. While not strictly necessary, you might want to look for a ladder with bonus features like rubberised feet that prevent slipping and damaging your floors and carpet and handrails for extra security.

Loft Ladders: The Correct Measurements are Essential

Too often, it happens that a homeowner orders a loft ladder, only to find that it’s not quite the right size. Here’s a brief run-down on the key measurements you’ll need. In general, a good place to start is with the floor to ceiling height.  This is the vertical distance from the floor where the base of the ladder will sit to the ceiling of the room. This dimension is particularly important if you’re planning on installing a folding-style wooden loft ladder with integral hatch or concertina loft ladder.  Another important dimension is the floor to floor height. This is the vertical distance between the floor where the bottom of the ladder will rest and the floor of the loft. If you’re planning on fitting a sliding type ladder, this dimension is especially important. Compare your measurements with the minimum and maximum values cited for the loft ladder you’re considering.  Do be aware that although the ladder can be slightly adjusted, it’s best to choose one that closely conforms to your measurements.

Loft Ladders: More Important Dimensions

Whether you have an existing hatch or need to fit one, pay special attention to the ladder’s loft opening specification. For a ladder designed to go into an existing loft hatch (typically sliding and concertina designs) you will need to consider the minimum length and width of the hatch to find out if it will suit you.  If you are looking at a ladder which comes with its own hatch you will need to consider the outer frame dimensions. If it’s bigger than your existing hatch, then it’s a simple matter to enlarge the opening.  If it’s smaller, you’re likely to need a bit of framing done to ensure a good fit. Here’s a typical example: Let’s say you’ve measured your loft opening, and the size is 1100mm x 600mm. When shopping for a ladder, you find one that needs an opening of 1100mm x 700mm. This ladder will fit quite nicely with a little bit of work to the length of the hatch. You also need to consider both vertical and horizontal clearance.

Loft Ladder: Clearances are Critically Important

Vertical and horizontal clearance describes the distance in the loft between the hinged edge of the hatch vertically and horizontally to any nearby obstruction that you aren’t able to alter or relocate. This measurement takes into account the distance (arc) that the ladder must pass through to be fully deployed and resting on the floor. The bottom section of a two-section folding loft ladder, for example, describes an arc when it’s folded down toward the floor.  Also, measure the swing clearance, which is the distance from the loft hinge end to the end of the loft hatch to the nearest obstruction, which usually proves to be a wall. Finally, the ladder’s landing space should be considered. This is the distance from the hatch’s hinge to the place on the floor where the ladder’s feet rest, once it’s fully extended. Measure this distance horizontally along the floor.

Loft Ladders: Timber or Aluminium?

If the loft ladder is to be used in an area where it will be seen, then its appearance is important. For such applications, a timber ladder is the best choice. Such a ladder can be painted or stained to match the surrounding decor. If cost is a concern, then it’s wise to consider a loft ladder made from light and durable aluminium. Whilst an aluminium ladder isn’t as attractive as a timber one, the price is likely to be lower. It should be possible to find an aluminium loft ladder for about £70 for a sectional folding model. If you opt for the retractable concertina style ladder, expect to pay about £160.  A concertina ladder is a good choice for applications where either loft or floor access space is limited.

With all the types of loft ladders available, you’re sure to find the right one for your unique needs.

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