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The Basics of Aluminum Loft Ladders

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An aluminum loft ladder is designed to make access easy. A loft is an area with an open ceiling, especially in a garret or attic, used for storage. Lofts are traditionally reached by pull-down stairs that emerge through the top of the room below. However, most people find that reaching the roof via pull-down stairs is not practical or safe. Loft ladders appeared to make it easy and secure to get up to the roof.

Aluminum is a “springy” material that makes aluminum loft ladders strong yet very flexible. This trait helps prevent damage to the ladder and injury for the climber in case of accidental load or impact to the top of the ladder.

An aluminum loft ladder generally comprises a bottom section with steps and side rails that join together at the top of the ladder to form a “T” shape. The bottom section may be straight or curved (concave or convex). A concave (inwardly curving) bottom section better fits new construction roofs, while a convex (outwardly curving) bottom section is more appropriate for roofs with a lower pitch. The top “T” section is designed to enable the ladder to be secured to rafters, purlins, or beams. There are several styles of connections that can be used.

The standard loft ladder has 18 steps — one step every 12″ (30 cm). The step platform is 8″ x 18″, which is the running length. As a result, each step tread has a surface area of 2 square feet or 0.2 square meters.

Typically aluminum loft ladders are secured to rafters at the lower end and rest on bracket “feet” upper end. There are several methods of attachment to the rafters and brackets available. One is a steel plate with bolt holes, while another uses L-channel that fits into notches in the rafter. In addition, some loft ladders have one or more rubber “snubbers” mounted to prevent damage to roofing felt during installation on roof slope and movement when walking up or down the ladder.

The lightweight aluminum of loft ladders makes it easy to carry, handle, and move around on the roof. It is simple to climb without handrails or support rails since there are 18 steps with an average step width of 12″. The maximum recommended standing load for a standard loft ladder is 200 lbs., or 90 Kg.

Loft ladders are available in various sizes, from a 10′ (3 m) length for low pitch roofs to as much as an 8:12 roof pitch. The most common measurements are 12′, 14′, and 16′. Longer loft ladders can be made as required. Each ladder size should have only one specific application in your area. For example, if you own a 16′ loft ladder, don’t use it for roof pitches below 6/12; rather, give it to someone who has a higher pitch roof.

Some loft ladders are sectional; that is, they have several sections that join together. Sectional designs are especially useful when the roof pitch is very high or if you want to store the sections indoors.

Be sure to follow all manufacturer recommendations, warnings, and labels on loft ladders. When in doubt about proper use, always consult a professional contractor.

Abel Eino
the authorAbel Eino