Older style houses used to have almost an entire floor that was known as the attic space.  There would be this huge door basically on the ceiling of the second floor that you pulled down and basically just hopped up the stairs.

Although there are still homes like that, in reality most new houses have much smaller hatches making it hard to have built in stairs or ladders.   If you have been resorting to getting out that step ladder from the garage, and dragging it up 2 flights just so you can stand on the very top of it on your toes to peer into your attic, there are safer ways!

This is how we were entering our attic and it was only really to take a quick look at the roof as we insulated the top part.  But I was thinking there would be some good storage areas up there if we set it up right.  I did some research and found a few attic stairs that came with the framework and basically folded down when you needed them and tucked away when you didn’t.  You don’t have to have a separate ladder; it becomes part of the hatch which I thought was a cool way to utilize the attic space better.

folding attic stairsCredit: amazon.com

Folding Attic Scissor Stairs - For Small Openings 22 x 31 inches Rough Opening!

This is about the size of our attic hatch.  I really didn’t think you could get a set of fold away stairs for this small but you can.  Check out the picture.  They take up very little room when folded back up into the hatch lid because they are scissor metal style which tucks away neatly.  You can use this style on many sizes of openings but I was excited to see they would fit a 22 x 31 inch opening, which is an average size of new houses.

folding attic stairsCredit: amazon.com

Aluminum Folding Attic Ladder

If you have a larger opening that is more rectangle, approx 22 x 54 inches, this particular heavier aluminum ladder will fit that opening.  It comes with an insulated door, and this makes it easier to tote up boxes for storage.

Folding attic stairsCredit: amazon.com
Pull Down Attic Ladder Insulating Stair Cover 25" x 54" x 11"
Amazon Price: $108.95 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 16, 2016)

Insulation Attic Stair Cover Kit

We all know how much heat can be lost through the roof, so if you have a large attic entrance that you use regularly you don’t want tons of insulation falling on you when you open the hatch but you don’t want to lose heat either.  This kit will cover the entrance so that you don’t get hit with insulation but at the same time there is not the same heat loss.  This works well on those larger hatch openings.

folding attic stairsCredit: amazon.com

Telescopic Loft Ladder

If you prefer not to have a ladder or set of stairs folded away on the attic entrance cover, you can simply get these easy to use and store ladders that extend easily and quickly.  If your entrance is in your closet you could keep this ladder folded down in the back of your closet or somewhere handy for when you need to get up there.  It is quite compact when not in use.

attic pulldown stairsCredit: amazon.com
Attic Ease AEPSB Ladder Pull System Kit Finish, Brass
Amazon Price: $23.95 $19.17 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 16, 2016)

Attic Ladder Pull System

If you have a larger entrance with the stairs or ladder attached and are relying on that string hanging from the ceiling to open it, maybe it is time for a better system.  This one comes with a brass hook, and you can store the pole nearby, and when you need to go upstairs, you simply hook the door and pull it down.  This way you don’t need a step ladder to get to the ladder!

folding attic stairsCredit: amazon.com
Attic Dek Flooring -Pack of 4 panels (Gray) (24" x 16")
Amazon Price: $33.72 Buy Now
(price as of Nov 16, 2016)

Attic Flooring

Once you have figured out how to get up into this space with safety, are you now balancing off the joists?  One false move and you are coming through the ceiling somewhere in the house.  This is where I am right now.  I don’t need the space finished but I wouldn’t mind some way of storing near the hatch or being able to walk without fear of falling through.  These click together floors span the joist space to make it safe to walk up there as well as store things.  In effect this creates an instant floor without disturbing insulation between the joists.

Attic Stairs and Storage

If you are running out of storage space, even after a good cleanout, especially for seasonal items, the attic can be utilized.  But depending on your style of home, it can be hard to get access without creating a huge opening to get a stair case installed.  I realized after much research that you don’t need to make that opening massive, as there are ladders and stairs that will fit into the hatch of even the smallest openings. 

This is much easier than balancing on the top of that step ladder, which was not that user friendly as my opening to the attic is in a bedroom closet.  But I could see the metal scissor kit fitting in mine.

Replace the Sliding Piece of Wood with an Attic Stairs Hatch

Find the stairs or ladder kit that fits the rough opening of your hatch and then attach the one piece hinged door with the ladder.  Some DIY is needed, but once installed you won’t have that dreaded feeling of trying to figure out where you last saw the step ladder and how to get up there or sliding that piece of wood around up there to gain access.

Even if it is not for storage it is a good idea to check the space up there for wetness, roof leaks, and mold and for getting more insulation inside.  Make getting up there easier and safer!

So if you thought “well my attic hatch is only 22 x 31 inches, no way a staircase will fit there”…check again!  Yes you can fit one!