Tips for Buying an Attic Ladder

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Tips for Buying an Attic Ladder

Attic ladders are the best way to open up your attic space for storage, living, or other needs. The majority of households in the United States are outfitted with folding ladders so the homeowner can safely access above the ceiling without sacrificing the lower floor plans living area.

telescoping attic ladder, folding attic ladder, and disappearing stairway attic ladder

These drop down ladders can be manufactured in different sizes, materials, and methods of operation.  So what’s the first step in picking the right attic ladder?

1. Know your measurements

Picking the right attic ladder starts with measuring the desired area of installation. You want to take the following measurements:

  1. Floor to ceiling height (folding and telescoping ladders)
  2. Lower floor to attic floor height. 
  3. Rough opening dimension? This is the dimension of the hole you will open or have opened in your ceiling. 

Other space criteria:

  • How much space do you have in your attic? This is not really relevant if you are shopping for a folding or telescoping ladder but if the attic will be used for your man cave and you want to frequently access your home away from home then you may want to think about purchasing a disappearing stairway. 
  • How much room on the lower level do you have to utilize? Think about the run of the ladder or stairway. The last thing you want is your Bessler stairway taking up your wife’s view of the television.

2.  Weight capacity and frequency of use

How often do you plan on using your ladder or stairway? Who will be operating the unit? Are you tall or short? Strong or weak? Big or small? All important things to think about before purchasing an attic ladder.

Drop down ladders carry different weight capacity ratings. Ladders found at your local big box hardware store typically have a rating of 250 to 350 lbs. The 250 lbs ladders do not withstand with heavy use season after season or year after year. They work OKAY if you have your 8 year old granddaughter storing teddy bears up there. Other than that, it is not recommended to go less than a 350 lbs weight rating. 

For the heavier men in this world, that will be packing totes filled with centerfold magazines; it is recommended to go with a ladder or stair that can with stand > a 350 lb. load. American Stairs has models that range from 350 lb capacity to an 800 lb capacity. 

3. Different styles and operation

Folding Attic Ladder:

Folding Attic ladders are the most traditional style of attic access. These were designed to save the most storage while still offering a heavy duty weight capacity. These ladders are typically the most economical but they are a little difficult to operate if you are on the shorter side. The ladder is built in three sections and folds down at your face. If you are short, it can sometimes be difficult to reach the top section.

Telescoping Attic Ladder:

Telescoping Attic ladders are sturdy, appealing to the eye, and easy to operate. These ladders descend to the ground in a scissor style manner. Rainbow Attic Stairs manufactures a high end scissor style attic stairway. If you are shorter then this is the style that I recommend. It comes standard with a hook pole for opening the door and pulling down the stairway. 

Pull down attic stairway:

Bessler pull down stairways are great if you have enough of an open area in your attic to stow the stairway when it is not in use. These are great for heavy use and smooth operation. They can be on the heavier side but operation is eases with a spring drum roll to help retract the stairway. When I think of a pull down stairway, only one name comes to mind. American Stairways, formerly known as Bessler Stairs. American Stairways manufactures the Cadillac of pull down attic stairways. 

If you have any more questions, please contact us by emailing or calling (800) 262-0231.We will be happy to answer any questions that you may have.