If you are using your attic or loft for storing household items that do not have a permanent home, you are probably using a step ladder to access your loft storage area. Even assuming your step ladder is high enough you are still left with a monkey-style climb from the ladder into your loft. A built in loft ladder is much safer.
Standard homes have a loft access panel in the ceiling, often at the top of the stairs in a difficult to access position. There are different kinds of loft ladders that can all do the job equally well.
If you are nervous on ladders then consider a heavy duty loft ladder. It is stronger and you will feel more secure while climbing it. You can buy a DIY loft hatch and ladder kit, but the cost of having a specialist loft company in to do the complete loft ladder installation is much less than you think.
Be aware that all aluminium ladders flex when they are used. If you are not happy on a ladder then consider buying a timber loft ladder. Wood loft ladders are heavier, but you can always fit an electric motor to take the heavy or awkward lifting. You should also think about ladders that have a hand rail option for added security.
Loft Ladder Options
There are four main types of attic ladders, sliding, folding, concertina and telescopic loft ladders. You can choose between an aluminium loft ladder and a timber loft ladder. You can have electric powered loft ladders, which can be extremely useful. Any loft conversion specialist or loft ladder supply company will design a bespoke, custom loft ladder to suit your specific needs and location.
Aluminium and Steel Loft Ladders
These are lightweight compared to timber ladders, especially those loft ladders made from aluminium.
Concertina and sliding ladders are usually metal. These aluminium attic ladders are easily motorized with an electric motor option, complete with remote control.
Concertina ladders take up very little space, but they do flex as you climb them, which can be disconcerting. They are useful as emergency ladders and for access to flat roofs. If you have a suspended ceiling and you need to access your loft through that then a concertina ladder might be the best solution. Concertina ladders can even be used in a vertical access position, where space is extremely limited.
Telesteps loft ladders are an amazingly compact and lightweight loft access solution. A Telesteps attic ladder fits onto the internal frame that is already there around your loft access cover. When you open the cover you pull down your Telesteps telescopic ladder using an attached cord and just un-telescope it.
You can buy Telesteps loft ladders that have manual or automatic locking for each tread, a really worthwhile safety feature in any telescopic loft ladder. They are supplied in a variety of widths and lengths to suit different sizes of loft access panel and different ceiling heights.
Timber Loft Ladders
Folding and sliding loft ladders can be made from timber, steel or aluminium. There are usually two or three sections to a sliding or folding ladder. Loft access panels may need to be larger to accommodate these styles of ladders. If you want to store large items in your attic, then consider fitting a larger loft access and folding loft ladder. A folding or sliding ladder is normally attached to a hinged, drop down loft access cover and can be pulled down manually when the loft door is opened; motorised options are also popular.
Any built in loft ladder is infinitely safer than a freestanding step ladder where you have to swing off the top and into the attic.