What Are the Different Types of Roof Access?

A top-hinged roof window allows for roof access.
Attic ladders are a type of roof access product.
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  • Written By: Klaus Strasser
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 27 August 2014
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A roof access is a popular type of home accessory that can have many different functions. One of the most common types consists of a hatch that allows a person to climb onto a roof to do maintenance and as an emergency escape. The term may also refer to devices that allow sunlight and fresh air to enter a home through the roof area. There are many different types of products available in addition to hatches such as roof lights, which are like windows; glazed roofs that open; skylights that slide open; roof and sky lights that are manually or electrically-operated; pull-down stairs; attic ladders; and emergency escapes.

Many municipalities have guidelines for safe roof access. These regulations can determine which products can be installed. Accordingly, it can be a good idea to check building codes before making a decision about a roof access product for a home.

Like the name suggests, an opening roof is a type of roof that completely opens. It is usually manufactured by companies that design the product to fit the specific dimensions of a home. A motorized electrical device is generally used to open the roof, although for smaller models, manually-operated wenches can be used. Some of the purposes of the opening roof are to allow sunlight and fresh air into a residential property.


Attic ladders are considered a type of roof access product, however, they are generally intended for attic access only. The ladder can convert an attic from an unusable storage place into a dynamic part of the home. These ladders are usually customized to fit the measurements of a home, and are designed with safety in mind. Such safety features can include parts like spring-lever mechanisms and steel brackets. Most are equipped with a railing to ensure people do not fall while using them.

Roof ventilation allows air and sunlight into a dwelling. It can also vent hot air from an attic space, and replace it with cooler, fresher air. Such openings can also introduce light into the attic, which can deter cockroaches and unwanted animals from inhabiting the space.

Roof hatches have a very basic design, consisting of a small access opening installed on a roof. These typically range from 30 to 40 inches (76.2 to 101.6 cm) in diameter, and are usually made from materials like galvanized steel. In the installation process, a hole is cut into the roof according to the specific measurements of the hatch, which is then placed into the opening.

As a safety measure, roof access can also be important. In a fire, it may provide another means of escape for people. These emergency doors can vary in type, from a roof hatch with a ladder to a skylight that opens manually.


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