Things to look for in a good attic stair


Choosing the right attic ladder can be tricky. Here’s a simple list to help you get the best features.

Height:

Often the type and style of your attic stair are determined by the floor to ceiling height in the room you want to install it. Take a tape measure and run it up the wall. Make sure you run it right to the ceiling board (don’t stop at the architrave) to get an accurate measure.

Most attic stairs are designed for ceilings up to 2.8 meters in height. These generally suit your more modern homes from 1950 onwards. Older villas often require taller more specialist stairs. The features of these can vary widely as some have nifty spring loaded mechanisms to slowly lower the ladder towards you. Others may require you stand on a chair to reach and lower the ladder.

Hatch size

Generally the larger the hatch the better. This will allow you more access to take bigger boxes and objects into the attic space. However, often hallways and ceiling braces can limit the size you can install. For example, if you have a more modern home you may have ‘trusses’ in the attic. Stairs often have to be positioned between these. So this can have an impact on hatch size.

Finish:

Some stairs will come with a pre-painted hatch. These are often a spray painted finish and they save a lot of time in painting and filling after they are installed. If these are available we often advise them as an option. Normally you will still need to paint the border around the stair once it’s set in place.

Draught seal:

Some stairs will have a draught seal installed. These are really good as they will slow heat loss and prevent dust from blowing into the hallway below. We strongly advise choosing a stair with a draught seal if you have a ventilated concrete tile roof.

Insulation:

Heat rises and is lost through the ceiling. Therefore we often specify attic staors with insulated hatches to reduce heat loss. Sometimes if you need a specialist stair this feature is not always availble. However you can source a peice of polyester blanket insulation to flop over the hatch hole as you exit the ceiling. This will help reduce heat loss when the stair is folded away.

Hand rail:

Often forgotten about but so simple and essential. Having a rail to grab makes the experience far easier when carrying suitcases and boxes into the ceiling space. Most of our stair ranges have hand rails.

Rubber feet:

Having felt or rubber feet at the bottom of the ladder can help to protect wooden flooring from marks. If you dont have these you can get hold of adhiesive pads which work very well.

Strength:

Most stairs are designed to take at least 160kg in weight which is often enough for most needs. However if a heavy person lives in the house or you are installing stairs in a garage or workshop where you might carry heavier things into the ceiling you might want to consider 200kg steel stairs.

Quality Brands and realiability:

We prefer the quality of Fakro and Sellwood Attic stairs as the timber joinery is well made and parts are available. There are cheaper options from DIY merchants however we have found the springs and mechanisms can break over time and parts are not available.

Sellwood have a handy spring loaded cam that can lower the ladder slowly. They have great joinery too. However we often find the stairs are blank and not insulated or pre-painted. These are still great stairs and are made in New Zealand. We think these area great choices for specialist needs (tall ceilings and tight access)

Fakro stairs are made in Poland from nordic pine. They are insulated, have draught seals and come pre-painted. The wooden joinery has a slightly lower weight loading however for domestic installations we find this stair exceptional value. Fakro do offer taller units for villas however these do not have the spring loaded cam that can lower the ladder slowly like the Sellwood.

If you have any questions on Attic stairs pop us an email as we can help steer you to the right model.

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