Best Loft Ladders Guide
Every loft, big or small requires a way to get into it and for most of us that way is a loft ladder. These are much more than a simple means of getting from one from place to another however, they are a safety feature in of themselves with a myriad of types and sizes to choose from. It may not sound a daunting task but finding the right ladder for you is not always as simple as it may first appear. So, let’s start by asking ourselves the right questions.
Things to Consider When Buying a Loft Ladder
Like anything else in your home, choosing the right ladder requires a keen understanding of your exact needs. Most Loft Ladders can get you from A to B but in every case that is very rarely all you need to consider. Below we have a few of the things you’ll want to take into account to make sure your home gets the best.
Ladder safety (as after school assembly as it may sound) has been and remains to be a very important consideration. Testament to that, HSE statistics have determined that in 2020/21 of the 693,000 reported workplace injuries 8%, that’s roughly 60,000, are related to falls from heights. These risks are not limited to tradespeople alone and so features dedicated to mitigating them such as handrails or rubber supports, should not be discounted. Especially for those whose lofts are built higher up than normal.
It is also important to ensure that the ladder you purchase is one you feel you can comfortably install, or one you are happy to have someone install for you. This may feel like an unnecessary cost, but a loose fitting can easily make the difference between a long-lasting and sturdy ladder or one that fails after only a few weeks. When looking, keep an eye out for those that which come with full installation instructions, ones supplied with hatches or even specialised lock and release systems. All of these can make fitting them an easier task.
Size & Weight
There's no getting around that the size of your ladder will determine its suitability for your loft. As we’ve mentioned above, there a quite a few measurements to take before you can start your search. Once you’ve decided on the type of ladder you want, you absolutely must know what your floor to ceiling height is (or floor to floor in the case of a sliding ladder). This is true for any ladder and will very quickly narrow down your options.
From this point, you’ll either need your storage measurements (for sliding ladders), meaning the length and height of the ladder once stored OR the size of your loft opening (concertina/folding ladders). This is the length x width measurement needed to ensure your ladder/ hatch will be able be fit flush and secure in this opening.
This is all in addition to determining how much weight you’ll need the ladder to hold. As a general rule of thumb, most loft ladders begin at loads of 100kg with some options ranging up to 175kg. This is approximately 16 to 28 stone, a threshold that makes most ladders suitable for most general use. However, for those looking to make use of a loft ladder for other purposes you will need to take into account not just your own weight by the weight of any tools or equipment you may be carrying with you.
Ease of Use
Whilst all of the above are key considerations, they must be kept in the right context. If you want to determine which type of ladder you’ll need, it’s size, how much weight it needs to hold and if it has all the necessary safety features, you first need to be sure of who is using it and how often.
Will it just be you or will your friends and family be going up to loft as well? Are there any special considerations you need to take into account? Are you storing anything potentially flammable to the point that your ladder may need some fire-resistant properties? All good questions and ones that, if answered, will make finding your perfect ladder that much easier.
Types of Loft Ladder
Different styles of ladder are suitable for different applications. Whether it be an issue of space, height or simple usability each of these different types has been made for a specific range of uses. Knowing what they are is a must if you want to make sure your ladder is suitable for your needs.
Probably the first thing that comes to mind when you think of a loft ladder, traditional sliding ladders offer a straightforward design and because of this are typically easier to fit. Being constructed with two or three sections that slide and lock in place together, they can be used within small openings making them a common sight amongst more modern homes.
A few things to take into account, however: Sliding ladders are normally mounted onto your loft floor, not your hatch. This means you will need to take your floor-to-floor height into consideration when shopping for the right model. Also, for these ladders to function as intended your hatch will either already have to drop down or will need to be converted – another additional cost to keep track of if your chosen ladder doesn’t come with trapdoor hinges supplied to allow for said conversion.
Finally, you will need to keep space in mind. Namely the storage length and height, measurements of how much room the ladder will take up when not use as well as its maximum height whilst being stowed away. Without first getting these numbers you run the risk of getting a ladder that simply won’t fit or will be big to use.
Most sliding ladders will either be wooden or made from lightweight aluminium, though their actual construction will differ only very slightly. However, for lofts with more stringent height and storage limits Telescopic Ladders provide an excellent solution. These offer a more sleek, innovative design which tends to involve the need for only a single button. Pressing it releases the tread, locks it and allows for an overall sturdy frame.
For those looking to make the most out of their loft floor space, Concertina Ladders may be the better option. These ladders, unlike the above, are stored on your hatch door and thus leave the loft completely free of obstruction. Easy to operate, they either can be manually pulled down or, in some of the higher-end cases, electrically powered. Being manufactured from metal, it is also important to note that whilst they see use in homes all across the country Concertina’s, especially powered, are well established for use in the commercial sector.
Because they are stored on the loft door, many brands will also simply include the door alongside the ladder. This eliminates any potential sizing issues and more importantly, all but guarantees that the ladder can be adequately secured. However, it doesn’t take away the need for your tape measure altogether. Regardless of whether a hatch is included or not you will need to know, alongside the floor to ceiling height, your loft opening size to ensure the hatch/ladder you buy will fit comfortably with a secure enough seal.
Like their sliding alternatives, folding ladders are most commonly seen as either wooden or metal and share the Concertina feature of being available with a hatch door supplied. In fact, folding ladders will almost always come with one as without they would not be able to be operated normally. This can be a benefit and drawback, as whilst it may mean you can be more confident in your purchase, it is equally true that the purchase may be slightly pricier.
There is an argument to be made for this, however, as folding ladders also boast a similar amount of space saving to Concertina models, being fitted directly onto the hatch. This in addition to a design that looks and feels more like a traditional ladder. One is easier to use, as the three or four sections can link to create a single side rail to hold onto. With some models also offering the option of an additional handrail.
Of course, to accommodate this style folding ladders will require a certain amount of space between your two floors to unfold safely. Known as a swing clearance, this can severely limit their use in narrow hallways. Though, aside from this small caveat, the ladders are otherwise fairly straightforward to install, requiring only the need to fit the ladders arms and fixings to your loft opening and secure the frame. Bear in mind that whilst wooden ladders may be able to be cut to size, aluminium ones will need to be ordered to meet your floor to ceiling height (or floor to fixing position).
Our Favourite Loft Ladders
With the basics out of the way, let’s start looking at some ladders. Below are just some of our favourites.
Abru 2.69m 2 Section Aluminium Loft Ladder
A fantastic choice for projects with a smaller budget. This 2-section ladder from Abru offers a classic and highly effective design, able to reach heights of up to 2.69m or 8ft 10inches. It has a maximum load of 150kg and comes complete with a full set of installation instructions and a universal stowing pole to help with its operation. Most of all, it is DIY friendly and can be installed without the need for additional help.
Youngman Telescopic Loft Ladder
Youngman is a brand whose name comes up often for those looking for their next ladder and for good reason. This telescopic model offers the ideal solution to the problem of accessing smaller lofts, benefiting from an incredibly low-profile. Despite this it is also still very durable, manufactured from anodised aluminium. As for its technical features, besides the integrated rubber feat for safety and stability, it can be adjusted to three distinct heights (ranging from 2.17 to 2.88m) and boasts an automatic locking and release system. A system which allows it to be as easily installed as any other conventional sliding ladder, if not more so.
Fakro LWF 45 – Fire Resistant Folding Wooden Lift Ladder and Hatch
Designed to guarantee reliable fire resistance for up to 45 minutes, the LWF by Fakro places itself amongst some of the safest ladders out there. This resistance has been achieved with a hatch seal which, when exposed to heat, will expand to prevent fire from breaching it. To further ensure that those who use this ladder are comfortable, the LWF is supplied with a handrail, non-slip step tread and an intentionally short gap between the top tread and loft floor.
Fakro LSZ – Scissor Metal Loft Ladder and Hatch
Built to withstand a permissible load of 200kg, the LSZ is suitable for virtually anything the modern home could throw at it. Slightly on the higher end price wise, it makes up for it wonderfully with a structure intended for easy height adjustment and compact storing. It comes complete with a fully insulated 3.6cm hatch and is delivered pre-assembled to make its fitting as quick and hassle-free as possible.
Our award-winning team is here to help. Simply give us a call on 01295 565 565 or talk to us via our online chat and we’ll be happy to assist in picking out the ideal products for your next project.