What is an Attic Ladder?

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  • Written By: Sherry Holetzky
  • Edited By: Niki Foster
  • Last Modified Date: 05 October 2019
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An attic ladder is a simple set of folding stairs that can be accessed easily when someone needs to enter an overhead storage area. An attic ladder resembles a typical ladder when open, but folds on hinges for easy storage. It can then be pushed into the attic and hidden from view by a panel that rests flush against the ceiling.

The most popular design is a two-piece wooden attic ladder. This style has two sections with hinges between them that allow the ladder to fold in half. When unfolded, the ladder touches the floor at an angle, which makes climbing easier. Rather than thin rungs, an attic ladder has flat risers that range from 1-3 inches (approximately 2.5 to 7.5 cm) wide.

Metal and aluminum attic ladders are more expensive but they provide sturdier construction and are longer lasting than wooden ladders. This style may have rungs or risers, but with either type of tread, users must take care against slippage. Some are available with slip-resistant steps.

Telescoping attic ladders, usually made from aluminum, provide the best space-saving option. They have a more condensed design and, when open, the ladder goes straight down rather than lowering at an angle. A telescoping attic ladder is a good choice for a small space such as a crawlspace attic, or for use in a small room or closet.


An attic ladder is versatile, making it perfect for a house, apartment, garage, or commercial building such as an office or warehouse. Attic ladders allow home and business owners to free up space by replacing traditional stairways. This is an especially good option if space is minimal or the attic is seldom used.

When you do need access to the attic, an attic ladder is very simple to use. With average height ceilings, an attic ladder can be opened with a pull cord attached to the bottom panel. For higher ceilings, there is a ring on the panel which can be pulled using a long rod.

Attic ladders are fairly simple to assemble. Some are available pre-assembled, and a property owner can install them with minimal effort. Attic ladder manufacturers may also provide installation for a fee, or the property owner can hire a serviceman to complete the installation.


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