How to Choose an Attic Ladder System

Not all that long ago, the attic ladder and stairway industry operated with no set of minimum standards in place. But in the late 1990s, the industry finally decided to become more organized and safety-conscious by implementing a series of building regulations.

Still, there are a wide range of different attic-ladder and hidden-stairway systems available. Here are some considerations to keep in mind when purchasing and installing your own attic ladder.

Pull-Down Ladders

Pull-down attic ladders descend from the attic hatchway in one piece, which is attached to the rectangular hatch door. This type of attic ladder system is traditionally sturdier and more stable than the folding ladder system, however, it is substantially more difficult to install.

Folding Ladders

Folding attic ladders are simply that: attic ladders that fold up to fit inside the ceiling hatch. This type of ladder installation is better suited for smaller attics or attics in which there is not a lot of room for gaining entrance.

Folding ladders can be purchased in either wood or aluminum. Wooden ladders are easier to fold, but aluminum ladders are lighter and resistant to rot and splinters. It comes down to your preference.

Whenever purchasing an attic ladder, it’s a good idea to choose one with at least a 250- to 300-pound weight limit.

Building Codes

Because many local authorities have stringent laws and fire codes in place regarding firewalls, you must find out if your municipality allows the installation of an attic ladder system.

Before you purchase an attic ladder, be sure you check the dimensions very carefully. Some attic ladders may list the dimensions from the floor to the ceiling, while others may list them from the floor to the attic floor.

Read the Instructions

Before you begin your attic ladder installation, be sure to read over the instructions at least two times. Installing an attic ladder system isn’t the easiest job in the world, and, if you’ve never done it before, it can prove challenging. Don’t forget—check your floor to make sure that it is level. If it isn't, all of your hard work could be for nothing.