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What are the Different Types of Attic Access?

By Tess C. Taylor
Updated May 16, 2024
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There are many choices and styles of attic steps, ladders, doors and entrances. Having access to an attic for use as a bonus room or storage space adds value to a home or office. Likewise, creating access to an attic that is both secure and energy efficient is equally important for any building structure.

The most common type of attic access style is the attic ladder and hatch system. This type of attic access is featured by a set of pull-down wooden and metal stairs that are concealed by a ceiling hatch. The ceiling hatch is generally the size of a door and is set within a recessed panel. When the ceiling hatch is lowered, the steps are revealed and can be brought down to floor level. Then the user climbs the stairs to the attic space.

Another type of attic access is the attic staircase. This staircase is built into the side of a room or hallway and leads to a large finished or unfinished roof attic space. In some cases, the attic stairs may access what’s known as a “frog,” or a finished room that’s located over a garage. In some buildings, the attic staircase leads to an attic that’s been converted to a loft area.

Attic steps can vary in materials from simple wooden attic ladders to more complex metal and wood structures. Attic access can be provided by a spiral staircase, which takes up less room that provides vertical accessibility to a room or storage space. Attic access may also be hidden from view behind doors, within rooms or an exterior access of the building.

When installing or replacing an attic access, it’s important to choose a style that best works for the type of use it will have. If the attic is accessed only on occasion, then a less elaborate system can be used. If the attic will see regular daily use or heavier traffic, then choosing a more complicated or sturdy access system that can withstand this type of use is critical.

Another concern with an attic access is how well it manages the flow of energy in the building where it is located. Due to being installed in the ceiling where heat or cool air can escape, the attic hatch or door must have adequate insulation in order to reduce energy waste. An attic access door should be easy to access, but not left open.

Lastly, a frequent concern with an attic access is security. This is especially important in homes and office buildings where an attic access can be used by trespassers to enter the structure. If the attic access is located along an outer less secure wall of the building, then a security feature such as an interior locking or alarm system can be installed to prevent break-ins.

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