How to Fit a Loft Ladder
We all need some space from time to time. If you’re a homeowner looking to create a bit of extra space in your home, what you need could be right above your head. The loft space in most homes is a bundle of unrealised potential, but the first step is getting up there. And to do that, you’ll need to fit a loft ladder.
What Tools Will I Need?
- Tape measure
- Carpenter’s square
- Craft Knife
The next thing to think about is the loft hatch. If you’re in the market for a loft ladder, you’ve probably got an opening already. It’s important to measure this and ensure that any loft ladder you choose will fit. The hatch needs to be large enough to house the ladder, whilst accommodating a small amount for movement around the edges.
The two loft hatches most favoured by our customers are the GL250 and the GL250-03 made by Manthorpe Building Products. These loft hatches are stylish, affordable, and easy to install. The GL250 features a traditional slide lock and “lift up” functionality, whereas the GL250-03 has an innovative twisting locking mechanism. Once you’ve fitted your loft hatch, it’s time to install the ladder.
How to Install a Loft Ladder
Loft Ladders should almost always be installed by two people where possible, one above and one below using a temporary means of access such as a stepladder. The work area should also be well lit and cleared of any hazards before work begins. The last thing you want when fitting a ladder is an injury that will prevent you from using it.
Fitting Aluminium Slider Ladders
Aluminium ladders will consist of two or three sections that slide on top of each other, allowing the ladder to lie flat when stowed. When in operation a pivot mounting connected to the top of the ladder allows it to tilt down through the opening, after which the lower sections can be slid down and locked into place. When purchasing you should find that suppliers provide the maximum and minimum dimensions necessary for installation, while measuring for these remember to measure from floor to loft floor not floor to ceiling.
To assemble, you will need to attach hinge guide brackets to the uppermost section of the ladder, installing top and bottom stops, as necessary. Once this is done, the brackets can be screwed into place in your loft opening. One person should be screwing the ladder into place whilst the other holds it securely from the bottom. The ladder can then be held at an appropriate angle (65 to 80 degrees) and the stop ends can be tightened to ensure the ladder has a that as a default angle when in use. The handrail can be attached on either the left or right hand side, with some systems offering multiple placement options.
Fitting Folding Timber Ladders
As their name suggests, these ladders are fitted to the door of your loft hatch and can be folded out for use. As opposed to installing aluminium ladders these are a bit more complex due to their heavier weight. This weight means that a suitable frame, capable of supporting the ladder must be built, though if you are working with a kit it is likely that this frame will be provided.
The frame should be lowered into a suitable opening matching the specifications of your chosen ladder, making sure there is a small gap around the edges to allow for some movement so you can get the frame squared to your ceiling. The frame can then be screwed into the rafters from above, with between six to eight 70mm screws. It is important that while you are fitting the frame that a strong support has been built underneath which will be able to both support its weight and hold it in place. Ideally a second person should also aid with this support. When fixing the screws, you should pack out between the rafters and the frame to avoid the timber bowing.
The actual ladder can then be secured to the inside of the frame, on the back of the hatch door with fixing brackets followed by the installation of struts and springs. Individual installation guides should be consulted for the specifics here as every ladder can be little bit different. When everything has been fitted, you should be able to drop the ladder down and tighten any fixings as needed.
The next step is to cut the end of the ladder to size, so it meets with your floor. You should measure down to the floor from the top of the ladder and mark your cutting points clearly. As you can imagine, it is incredibly important not to make any mistakes as this stage, so you should measure at least twice to be absolute sure you are cutting the timber correctly. The ends should be cut square so that plastic feet can be screwed to the bottom. Finally, a latch can be attached to the loft door so it can be closed and secured when not in use.
Fitting Concertina Ladders
Like aluminium ladders these are simpler to install alternatives to timber options. Concertina ladders are also one of the most space saving of the four options here, able to be stowed as a small compact block. To accommodate this space saving design, when extended they form a series of criss-crossed stiles with treads in between, secured with bolts for added stability and to prevent accidental retraction.
As most come fully assembled, fitting is stress-free and can be completed fairly quickly by DIYers of almost all levels. The ladder comes securely attached to a metal plate which can be fixed to the side of your hatch frame above the hinges using suitable fixings such as L-brackets or strong screws. Normally operated with a pole, electric variants are also available for added ease of use.
Fitting Telescopic Loft Ladders
Ideal for narrower loft hatches, Telescopic ladders, like Concertina are designed to save space in smaller lofts and roof spaces. Normally adjustable to multiple heights, these ladders are made from induvial sections which when stowed are stored within a hollow compartment of the section below.
Another simple install job, this ladder can be fixed using two mounting brackets screwed into your hatch frame above the hinges roughly 188mm either side of the centre line. A sub-frame, created from a carrier bar, springs, tubes and swivel arms/pins can then be fixed which will allow the ladder to pivot up and down. The top of the ladder can be secured to these swivel arms using bolts tightly screwed in with an allen key.
Like aluminium ladders, telescopic ladders can be stowed and extended using a simple locking mechanism and operating pole.
How Much Will Fitting a Loft Ladder Cost?
At Roofing Megastore, we have a variety of loft ladders which can provide secure and safe access to your loft.
£44 - £99
Timber Ladder Kits
£123 - £134
£184 - £192
Available in a range of heights and at different budget levels, you’ll be sure to find the right ladder for you.