7 Best Attic Ladders [Expert Reviews for July 2020]

By Tom S.

Last Updated on

Accessing the attic is far easier and safer if you have a high-quality attic ladder. This type of climbing equipment is specifically designed to work on attics or other narrow storage areas. Unlike a regular type of ladder, it can retract and extend quickly when you pull the attic door. It also has a smaller and more lightweight structure compared to an extension, step, and multi-use ladder. If you need one for your home, you need to ensure that you buy the best model.

There are plenty of attic ladders sold today, so it can be a bit challenging to select the perfect model. Find out everything you need to know about an attic ladder as well as the top products you can choose from in this guide.

Louisville Ladder has been in the ladder manufacturing business for 70 years. They are widely recognized for their ability to provide durable and reliable climbing accessories and equipment. One of the many products they offer is the AA2210 Elite Attic Ladder.

The Louisville Ladder AA2210 model fits attic doors measuring around 22.5 by 54 inches. It is suited for ceilings measuring anywhere between 7 to 10 feet high.

It has a load-bearing capacity of 375 lbs so it can support your weight while ascending the steps and carrying a box of items for storage. To prevent slipping and other kinds of accidents, the ladder is equipped with groove steps and sturdy hinges. Additionally, the ladder permits a wider clearance so you can access the attic with greater ease.

The ladder is equipped with a gas cylinder so you don’t need to use a lot of force when you open or close the attic door.

Whether you need a replacement or a new aluminum ladder for your attic, the Louisville Ladder AA2210 attic ladder is definitely a suitable choice.

Why we like it

  • Fits a wide range of ceiling heights
  • 375 lb load bearing capacity
  • Heavy duty hinges help ladder unfold smoothly
  • Durable construction that reinforces stability

Our Verdict

This is the best attic ladder for the money that is currently on the market.

Our Rating

5/5

Another Louisville Ladder that made it to the top 7 list is the LL24P Wooden Attic Ladder. It’s a wooden ladder with a 250lbs capacity designed for attic doors with rough opening dimensions of 22.5 by 60 inches. It can extend around 8 to 10 feet.

Like the model above, the LL24P attic ladder comes with grooved steps and easy-to-grip handrails. Hence, it can provide you with enough traction so you can avoid slipping.

If the ladder won’t retract quickly when you close the door, you can adjust the tension springs connecting the power arms and the upper portion of the stairs.

This type of ladder comes with an E-Z support strap that allows quick and safe installation. Furthermore, the manufacturer provides a detailed set of instructions on how you can fit the ladder to your ceiling and flooring. Within a few hours, you can install the ladder without the help of a professional.

Why we like it

  • Wooden stairs compliment homes where aluminum doesn't work
  • Easy installation in a rough 22.5 x 60 in ceiling opening
  • Handrail for safety
  • Reinforced steps are durable

Our Verdict

Louisville’s wooden attic ladder is great for homes that want to have a cozy feel leading to their attic space or where aluminum stairs won’t work.

Our Rating

5/5

Louisville Ladder’s 16 AL228P Extension LadderAttic Ladder is an attic ladder designed to reach high ceilings. The item comes with an installation kit and a printed instruction manual. The kit includes support straps, pull cord, plywood shim, EZ hang straps, and roofing nails. Even with regular use, the ladder frames don’t get deformed easily thanks to the additional corner bracing.

Climbing this ladder won’t be a problem too! It has 3.375 inches deep steps that can reduce foot fatigue while you climb. These steps make the climb up to the attic stable and safe. The 16 AL228P ladder is suited for attics with openings measuring roughly 22.5 by 63 inches. It ensures that you can ascend the steps and carry large and bulky items for storage.

The 16 AL228P also comes with handrails on the sides so you can ascend the steps with confidence when you’re climbing heights of up to 12 feet.

Why we like it

  • Perfect for high ceilings in the house or in the garage
  • The complimentary hook and pole makes it easy to open the ladder
  • Heavy duty 350 lb. capacity
  • Easy installation

Our Verdict

This is a perfect ladder to use where the attics are located above a garage with a high ceiling because of the 10-12 foot reach.

Our Rating

5/5

If you prefer using an aluminum ladder for your attic, the Werner Ladder AA1510 is a good choice. It has a lightweight aluminum ladder that fits even the smallest opening. The AA1510 model has a 250 lb carrying capacity, perfect for individuals who only need to access the attic once in a while.

Like the rest of the attic ladders sold today, this model also comes with a detailed installation manual. Read it carefully and pay attention to the measurements provided. To install this piece of equipment, you need to use a few tools such as a hammer, tape measure, awl, screwdrivers, adjustable pliers, saw, and a power drill.

Also, you must ensure that the attic has at least 44 inches clearance space for the uppermost section of the ladder. When installing the ladder and the rest of its components, you need to ensure that everything is placed in the correct angle.

When using or retracting the ladder, you need to check if the catches are engaged. Locate the catches and inspect them to ensure that each section is secured. This will help you prevent accidents especially when you push the ladder back to the attic.

Unlike the latest ladder models today, the Werner AA1510 still uses the old sliding mechanism. This might present issues in the long run especially if you frequently use the ladder.

Why we like it

  • Perfect ladder for small spaces like hallways and bedrooms
  • The aluminum finish is great for contemporary styles
  • Telescoping design

Our Verdict

This ladder is great for those custom applications where the attic is only accessible from a tight space or irregular position.

Our Rating

5/5

Not a fan of traditional sliding ladders? The Ohuhu Aluminum Telescopic ladder might be the right choice for you. With the best telescoping ladders, you won’t need to worry about snapping tension springs, jammed ladder sections or rusty ladder hinges. This type of ladder is specially designed to extend and retract in a few sections after pushing the release button.

Thanks to the lightweight material and compact design of this aluminum ladder, you can easily transport from the storage area to the attic door. This ladder model extends by up to 12.5ft and can carry up to 330lbs. It comes with a standard carrying strap to help you secure the compressed sections. The item roughly measures 40 by 23 by 5 inches, so it can fit most attic doors.

If you aren’t looking for a permanent solution, this may be the most cost-effective ladder you can use. Besides using it to access the attic, you can carry it to other parts of your home to perform chores such as cleaning hard to reach areas and replacing lightbulbs.

Why we like it

  • Extremely versatile - can be used for more than just accessing the attic
  • Convenient one button retraction for easy use
  • Premium aluminum alloy makes this super light
  • Locking mechanisms ensure stability
  • 330 lb weight capacity

Our Verdict

This is a great product if you don’t frequently access the ladder and want one ladder for multiple uses around the house.

Our Rating

5/5

Xtend + Climb is one of the most well-known ladder manufacturers in the world. The company has been around since 2001 creating climbing equipment and accessories. They have 47 patented inventions and hundreds of innovative and highly durable products. One of their most popular product offers is the 785P+ Pro Series telescoping ladders.

Xtend + Climb 785P+ is by far the tallest model in the Pro Series. It can extend to 15.5ft and compress to only 36.5 inches after retracting the sections. Thanks to its durable make and extensive reach, it can work perfectly for both residential and commercial applications.

If you are looking for a piece of multi-purpose climbing equipment, then the Xtend + Climb 785P+ model is a worthy pick. Besides using it for tasks such as cleaning the ceiling or removing defective gutters, it can double as an attic ladder.

Like the Ohuhu 12.5ft Telescoping Ladder, this item is also a non-permanent solution for your attic. It only measures 19.75 inches wide so it can fit even the smallest opening. With this ladder model, you can store unused items in the attic with great ease.

Why we like it

  • 15.5 ft height allows you to reach high ceilings
  • Professional grade aluminum construction
  • Angled locks to prevent injuries
  • Carrying handle for easy transportation
  • Double overmolded feet for grip and traction

Our Verdict

The Xtend + Climb 785P+ Pro is great for professionals and DIY’ers alike who need a versatile ladder that can reach high areas.

Our Rating

5/5

The last item that made it to the list is the Fakro LST 66821 Steel Scissor Attic Ladder. Compared to the rest of the ladders enumerated in the list, this model has the most expensive listing price. Nevertheless, it’s still one of the customer’s top choice. There are plenty of reasons why you would also love this equipment.

For starters, it has an impressive design. Unlike the conventional attic ladder, Fakro’s Steel Scissor Attic Ladder has a unique and trendy looking accordion-like shape. If you value aesthetics, then the steel scissor ladder from Fakro makes a good product to use.

Aside from its unique S-shaped handrails, you will also love the ladder’s user-friendly functionalities. You can install it by yourself by simply following the instruction manual. You will only need a few tools to complete the installation. Once installed, you won’t find it hard to open and close the attic door. Its uniquely engineered hatch does the job for you.

Another key factor customers love about this attic ladder is its highly durable material. The main structure of the ladder is made from rust-resistant steel. The frame and attic door, on one hand, is made from wood.

It has a load-bearing capacity of 300lbs so it can support the weight of an average person. You can easily adjust the ladder to fit ceilings measuring anywhere between 7 to 9 feet. In case you have issues with the product, you can have it replaced within the two-year product warranty period.

Why we like it

  • Unique design that compliments modern homes
  • Insulated wooden door frame
  • Study and practical
  • The S-design acts as handrails

Our Verdict

The Fakro is undoubtedly expensive – but the user feedback justifies the high price tag. The unique design will make your attic ladder an accent rather than a commodity in your house.

Our Rating

4.5/5
best-attic-ladders

Buying guide

The best and most popular attic ladders are already listed in the previous section. Have you decided on which product you should buy? If you haven’t set your eyes on an item yet, you may use the attic ladder shopping guide below to help you.

Attic opening size

Attic ladders are specifically designed to fit a ceiling opening. The basic size requirement for the opening dimensions is set at 22.5 by 54 inches. However, according to Werner Ladders, some homes have wider attic openings. At the same time, some homes have very narrow ceiling openings. Measure the dimensions of the opening and find a ladder that fits. 

You can find the rough opening dimensions in the product description. Read through the details provided by the manufacturer so you don’t end up buying the wrong ladder.

Swing clearance space

Most of the time, you need to swing out the sections of the ladder in order to extend it to its full length. As such, you must check the available space where you plan to install the ladder. Is there enough clearance space? Will the area permit the ladder to extend completely?

To measure the swing clearance, you need to consider the total length of the ladder when extended. You also need to obtain the dimensions of the attic door. Each ladder has a different clearance space requirement so you need to double-check before you purchase an item.

Material

Attic ladders are usually made from stainless steel, aluminum, and wood. Stainless steel ladders are best known for their sturdy and durable structure. These are designed to withstand intense pressure, most especially those with a Type IA or IAA rating. The downside to using this type ladder, however, is the heaviness of the material. It can be a bit challenging to open or close the ladder without the help of a powerful tension spring or a supporting power arm on top of the ladder. 

Aluminum ladders, on one hand, are well recognized for their lightweight structure. Thousands of customers prefer using this type of ladder to access their attics not only for its durable make but also for its inexpensive price. The only disadvantage of an aluminum attic ladder is its electroconductive nature.

If you prefer using an old-school piece of climbing equipment, then a wooden ladder is a suitable choice. It’s cheap and hard-wearing. However, when exposed to intense heat or cold, the material tends to crack. When this happens, the ladder loses its structural integrity. 

You can readily identify the material used to manufacture the ladder because it is usually included in the product name. If not, you may refer to the product description.

Ceiling Height

Ladders designed to work on attics also come with ceiling height specifications. Some ladders are only suited for homes with a ceiling height of around 7 to 9 feet. Others are specifically made for ceilings measuring 8 to 10 feet. Measure the distance from the attic floor to the flooring and use the dimensions as your guide when choosing an item.

Pick a ladder that’s within the right range. Avoid buying one that’s too short or long because it can present serious problems for you and everyone who will climb the rungs. Read the exact specifications of the ladder or ask for assistance from the manufacturer before you add the item to your shopping cart.

Duty Rating

When buying a ladder, you need to pick one with a duty rating that works for you. The American Ladder Institute explains that ladders can be categorized into five duty ratings depending on the maximum load-bearing capacity that they can support safely. The five ladder duty ratings are as follows:

  • Type IAA
  • Type IA
  • Type I
  • Type II
  • Type III

Type IAA is suited for all kinds of tough projects both in a commercial and residential setting. It has a maximum weight capacity of 375lbs so it can support the weight of one worker plus a few tools and safety gear. The Type IA rating, on the other hand, can safely carry up to 300lbs. 

with either a Type IAA or IA rating because of their relatively high load-bearing capacity. If these don’t suit your budget, you can look for a Type I ladder. This type of equipment can support up to 250lbs. Experts don’t recommend using a ladder with a Type II or Type III especially if your weight is beyond the average or if you plan to carry large and heavy items to the attic. 

To determine whether a ladder’s duty rating fits your needs, you need to compute for the average weight that it needs to support. Take note of the weight of the user, protective gear, and equipment you carry or store while climbing up the steps or rungs. Use the measurements you obtain as your reference when narrowing down the available products.

Insulation

Sometimes, heat escapes from the attic access panels. This often results in a significant loss of energy in a house. To avoid such an issue, you should opt for ladders that come with properly-fitted doors. If possible, you should use products that come with an insulation cover. 

Some ladders sold today are equipped with specialized insulation covers that can fit on top of the hatchway.

If this is not an available option for you, you can install weatherstripping to minimize air leakage. Aside from this method, Doityourself.com enumerates other ways you can insulate your attic door:

  • Install insulation boards or foams.
  • Create a fiberglass insulation pillow.
  • Replace the door and choose one that fits snugly on the opening
  • Take advantage of the use of attic door latch

Examine the attic door to determine the best insulation method to use. If you’re not sure what to do, you can hire a professional to fix the issue.

Style & Design

Another factor you should look at when looking for a potential item to buy is its style and design. The seven products reviewed above have different designs and styles. One model, the Ohuhu Aluminum Extension ladder, is designed to reach up to 12.5 ft after pressing the release button. Another model, the Werner Ladder AA1510 uses a sliding mechanism to extend its length.

Consider how the product works before you buy it. Is it easy to use? How long does it take before it reaches its full length? Below are some crucial features you can look at when shopping for a ladder for your attic:

  • Steps vs Rungs – Ladders are either furnished with steps or rungs. While the two terms are used synonymously by some manufacturers, in truth, they do differ. Rungs are thinner and smaller compared to the steps. 
  • Cleats, rungs or steps distance – As per the OSHA standards, each ladder rung should be about 8 to 18 inches apart. The bigger the distance between each rung, the bigger the room you get for your feet.
  • Ladder angle – Some models are steeper than others because they are made specifically for tight spaces. If you don’t find it comfortable to use a steep ladder, look for a model that has a flatter angle.
  • Handrails – Climbing up a ladder can be hard without the help of a stable handrail. Some products come with supporting handrails. Others don’t have one. Keep this in mind when you shop.

If you need a ladder for residential use, you may opt to use any of the products enumerated above. Telescoping works great if you hate using bulky climbing equipment. Their compact design after you compress each section allows for quick and hassle-free storage. 

Folding ladders is a great choice if you don’t mind manually folding ladder sections. It may be a bit tedious to use at first, but you will surely get the hang of it. 

There are also extension ladders that require sliding separate section to increase its reach. These are usually made from metal and have rollers to facilitate a fast sliding action when using the ladder.

Not too keen on using a traditional ladder? Perhaps a scissor-style ladder will work for your needs. It doesn’t work like an ordinary type of ladder. Instead, its working mechanism is similar to an accordion. Its interesting design would certainly suit users who prefer using stylish and trendy things.

Evaluate your needs and preferences. If possible, list down the important features that you expect to see in the ladder you want to have. By having a clear picture of your ideal attic ladder, you can quickly go through each product offer listed in your chosen online marketplace.

How to install attic ladders

Each attic ladder package contains an installation kit that will tell you in detail how you can set up the entire structure. Some models are installed differently, so it pays to read the manufacturer-provided instruction packet. 

Generally, you will need a few tools to install the ladder such as a screwdriver, hammer, pliers, tape measure, saw and a step ladder. Make sure to prepare these before you start working.

Also, to ensure that everything fits well, you need to do a few things: 

  • Measure everything as accurately as you can – A slight mistake in the dimensions of the opening may result in a significant energy loss. Draw an outline on the drywall using a piece of chalk. 
  • Cut the material with the right tool – Tap the saw blade into the attic flooring and cut along the outline you created. Check the sharpness of the blade to ensure a smooth finish.
  • Attach the header boards and support boards – Before you hoist the ladder assembly, you must support and header boards ready. This will prevent the attic flooring from getting damaged when you use the ladder.
  • Shim the support boards – Place shims around the stair frames. Secure them in place using a few screws. 
  • Check the ladder’s position when extended – See to it that it can fully extend its length without bumping into anything.
  • Install handrails – If the package includes a handrail, install them before ascending the steps. Screw it in place so it won’t fall off easily.

When installing the product, double-check the instructions. Most instructional manuals contain a detailed diagram of the product and the attic opening. Hence, it won’t take long before you figure out what to do. If the steps provided still seem confusing to you, use video tutorials as your guide. You must also follow safety precautionary measures to prevent accidents. Some safety tips you should follow includes:

  • Look out for electric cables when you cut through the ceiling drywall to avoid electrocution.
  • Be mindful of how you hold the saw when you work. Never attempt to hold it above your head while inserting the blade on the material.
  • Never mount the attic ladder unless you complete the installation process.
  • Use a sturdy A-frame ladder when hoisting the stair assembly. If possible use two ladders especially if the product you need to install is heavy.
  • Wear proper safety gear such as protective helmet and eyewear while working.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are attic ladders fire rated?

Fire-resistant ladders are specially manufactured to block fire. With this type of ladder, you can safely ascend the steps during a fire. Some manufacturers such as Fakro specialize in creating fire-rated ladders. 

If you’re not sure whether your favorite brand also makes such a type of ladder, read their product listing. The manufacturer will surely declare if their listed product is fire-rated, so you need to go through the product description. 

What size of attic ladder do I need?

Again, it all boils down to the accuracy of the measurements you obtain. If you can determine the dimensions of the ceiling opening and the height of the ceiling correctly, you can surely select the perfect product. 

In most cases, the size of the ladder is included in the name of the product. If you can’t find it there, check the product description. A sizing chart is often provided to help you determine if the product is the right fit for you. The manufacturer also provides a product comparison table to help you check similar products.

What attic ladders should I use for small openings?

If you have a small attic opening, you must use a compact attic ladder to access it. This type of ladder allows you to reach the storage area without compromising the available clearance space. It is specifically constructed to take up very little space because the sections slide over one another when not in use. 

Among the products reviewed above, only the Werner Ladder AA1510 and Louisville Ladder LL24P are suited for tight ceiling openings. These are both well-known for their compact design and durable features.

Are attic ladders expensive?

The price of an attic ladder primarily depends on the material, design and the included safety features. Usually, you need at least $100 to $1000 to buy a good quality ladder. When you compare the price, you must consider the functionalities of the item. Also, read through the customer feedback and find out the pros and cons.

Can I install an attic ladder by myself?

Yes, provided that you completely understand the process involved and have the required tools and equipment, you can manage to finish an attic ladder installation without hiring a professional. Manufacturers also provided video tutorials that discuss how to install and use their products. These are usually included in the product gallery, social media channel of the brand plus their company website.

If you’re not sure what to do, you can call in a contractor to do it for you. It will take roughly a few hours to obtain the measurements, prep the area and complete the installation procedure. 

Are attic ladders safe to use?

Thousands of people make use of ladders to access their storage area in the attic. Nevertheless, some still fear using it because of the risk of slipping. Fortunately, over the years, manufacturers have succeeded in creating safer and better climbing equipment. The majority of ladders today have grooved steps or rungs to minimize slipping. Others have handrails to help you climb smoothly and safety locks to prevent the ladder section from retracting accidentally.

With the best product and proper installation and use, you can definitely prevent accidents caused by attic ladders. 

You should also follow the safety tips below to avoid issues while using your attic ladder:

  • Only one person should climb the step. This is very important especially if you are using a ladder with a low duty rating. 
  • Make sure you have at least three contact points on the ladder while you ascend.
  • Check the safety locks and ladder base before climbing up.
  • Avoid climbing when you feel dizzy or intoxicated.
  • Schedule regular cleaning and maintenance of the ladder to prevent it from corroding or getting covered in oil and dirt.
  • Never use it in a dimly lit area. As much as possible, you must switch on the lights before using the ladder.

The Takeaway

Manufacturers continue to create innovative climbing solutions that can serve a variety of purposes. As such, you can find attic ladders in different shapes, sizes, and designs. If you have a hard time picking a ladder to use, run through the shopping guide above once more. 

Use the information provided to find a ladder that suits your needs and budget. Pay attention to the material used, clearance space, ladder design, weight, duty rating, and other crucial factors. 

List the most important things you need from an attic ladder before you browse a product catalog. Are you looking for one that can fit small ceiling openings? Do you prefer using wood, aluminum or stainless steel? Do you want a permanent installation? Do you need fire-rated ladders? Once you have a clear grasp of what product you should invest in, it will be easier to narrow down the options.

After receiving the product, your next order of business is to ensure that you install it properly. This is where the installation manual comes handy. Before attempting to install the item, see to it that you fully understand the instructions. When in doubt, you may refer to video tutorials provided by the manufacturer on their website or YouTube channel.

Are you now ready to select the best ladder? Which of the attic ladders enumerated above is your top choice so far? What made you choose it over the rest? 

Paul King

I have an unhealthy obsession with contracting and renovation. I’ve been a contractor for over 15 years and I love tackling challenging projects to make them look amazing.