Over the years, we’ve had countless customers ask us: is an attic ladder worth it? After all, not many homeowners are aware of the benefits of getting one.
Sure, they boost your attic’s accessibility and safety. However, are the costs and risks worth these benefits?
This article will discuss important things you need to know about attic ladders so you can decide if it’s a necessary addition to your home.
How Does an Attic Ladder Help?
An attic ladder is a retractable stair device users can pull down from the ceiling to access their attic. You can fold it up into a frame when you’re not using it, so it doesn’t take up any unnecessary space.
These apparatuses usually consist of ladders with wide steps and a steep slope, with a drawstring that hangs down from the ceiling. Homeowners can choose from wood, metal, aluminum, and fiberglass options.
Is an Attic Ladder Necessary?
For property owners who want to maximize their attic use, yes, attic ladders are necessary. Installing one in your home makes trips to and from the attic faster, more convenient, and safer.
Without this mechanism, you have to get a ladder every time you visit your attic. This scenario makes it less likely for homeowners to make the most out of their usable space.
Are Attic Ladders Required by Code?
No, attic ladders are not required by code for non-habitable spaces. However, the law mandates access openings, and we still recommend prioritizing safety when dealing with these instruments.
The reason behind the non-restriction is that experts consider these devices ladders and not stairs. The only exception is that an attic ladder in a garage should have fire resistance equivalent to that of a ½ drywall. If you use trusses or rafters to secure your ceiling, they also have to observe the same fire resistance level.
Here’s why: Recent fire statistics reveal that 6,600 residential fires start in garages every year and lead to 30 deaths, 400 injuries, and $457 million worth of property damage. The leading cause of these fires is electrical malfunctions.
However, even without code compliance, we highly recommend observing safety regulations. After all, poorly installed attic ladders can cause unnecessary accidents and damage.
In most cases, manufacturers print specific installation instructions and warnings on their products. Here are a few reminders:
- Check the ladder for damage once you receive it. Look for cracks, bends, and splinters.
- Don’t remove the plastic straps immediately. Read the instructions first.
- There’s no one-size-fits-all measurement for attic ladders. You need to follow the guide for your product.
- As with the measurement process, you need a helper during installation. Working on the project on your own can lead to inaccurate measurements and uneven stairs.
- You need the right ladder size and enough space to mount and dismount from the device.
If this procedure is too complicated for you, it’s best to request a free inspection from an attic ladder service provider. After all, these mechanisms last long. Having professionals on your side ensures you can maximize their lifespan.
What Are the Benefits of Installing an Attic Ladder?
If you haven’t decided yet on whether to install an attic ladder or not, let us help you out. We’ve listed seven top benefits below.
1. Achieve Quick and Safe Access
Using a short-step ladder or a full-size one from the garage can be a pain for property owners. Apart from taking too much time, they could be dangerous.
If you want quick and safe access to your attic, we recommend installing an attic ladder immediately.
2. Enhance Energy Efficiency
When you enhance access to your attic, you can examine your insulation system and check for signs of damage. Choosing the right attic ladder for your home ensures your air doesn’t leak in and out of your attic, helping you cut down hefty energy bills.
3. Enjoy More Attic Space
The increased convenience of having an attic ladder can help you maximize the use of your attic space. This advantage opens a new range of possibilities, from seasonal decorations to camping gear to kitchen supplies.
4. Boost Home Value
Adding an attic ladder to your home is one of the most affordable and impactful investments you can make for your property. Attic ladders help you get more value out of your attic space, and in turn, the home improvement increases the price value of your home.
The self-storage industry is now worth $39.5 billion, with an average monthly cost of $89.12 per 5.9 square feet. People are willing to pay for additional storage space, which means that attic access and use can boost your home’s value.
5. Expand Livable Space
If you want a cost-effective way to add another bedroom, game room, or office space, you can use your attic for such purposes. Having an attic ladder in sight will make this dream a reality without breaking the bank.
6. Allow Easy Maintenance Access
Installing an attic ladder makes it more convenient to maintain structural integrity, insulation, and wiring. The ease of access will encourage regular checks that can reveal early signs of damage.
7. Various Applications
While their name suggests otherwise, attic stairs can work well for other spaces in your home. For instance, we recommend using them for accessing other storage areas and rooftops.
How Long Do Attic Ladders Last?
In most cases, pull-down attic ladders last anywhere between 30 to 60 years, usually averaging 40 years. Some factors shorten this time frame, including usage frequency, exposure to excessive weight, and unnecessary modifications.
The good news is attic ladders don’t require much maintenance. You only need to clean the ladder, trapdoor, hinges, lock fittings, and draught excluders with a wet cloth and soapy water.
How Much Do Attic Ladders Cost?
Now that we’ve discussed reasons to invest in an attic ladder and its lifespan, let’s talk about the average costs for materials plus installation. It’s the last factor to consider if an attic ladder is indeed worth it.
Here’s what you need to know: On average, these mechanisms cost $100 to $200 to purchase and $200 to $500 for professional installation. Here are factors that affect your expenses:
- Ceiling height: Most ceilings fall within eight to nine feet. If your ceiling exceeds this limit, expect to spend more on installation. Read our guide to learn more on how to determine what size attic ladder you need.
- Location: Your residence affects the costs of your installation. For instance, urban areas may require higher fees because of more expensive materials and labor charges.
- Ladder particulars: There are several types of attic ladders available on the market, including telescoping, folding, scissor-style, and electric ones. Additionally, you can choose from various materials.
Replating an existing setup could reach up to $450 and even more for additional modifications. If you need a new ladder or open wall, expect your bill to reach $750. In extreme cases, some homeowners have to shell out up to $2,500 for an attic ladder.
So, is an attic ladder worth it? For most homeowners, the answer is yes.
Think of all its benefits, from providing safe access to your attic to boosting your home value. Now, if your costs reach the high averages, you might spend $700 for materials and installation. It may seem like an expensive home addition, but it could serve your needs for 30 years. These figures will amount to roughly $23 per year — or about $2 per month.
Ultimately, adding an attic ladder is worth it if you can keep costs down. You should at least see the costs added to an increase in your home value as it will increase accessibility and potential storage capabilities.
Make this easy and impactful improvement to your home. Check out some of the best attic ladders available here.