When we moved in, there was no loft ladder available to access the loft. Every time we had to go up there we had to wedge a ladder in against the wall, climb up and lift up the simple bit of ply that rested in the hole and served as a door. We would then come back down, re-position the ladder and make the precarious climb into the loft just next to the stairs.
This left us with marked walls from the ladder and the problem of storing said ladder in a small house with (at the time) no shed.
Removing the Old Hatch
We decided that this needed to go and be replaced with a proper loft ladder! The first stage was to remove the old hatch surround (using a crow bar and a bit of welly). This was nailed into the joists in the loft but came off pretty easily.
Creating a New Loft Surround
First of all, we rebuilt the surround. To do this we started by making a simple frame by screwing together some wood.
The next stage was to add a “stop” around the inside edge so that the loft hatch door would have something to close against. We did this by attaching a thinner strip of wood to the internal edge of the door making sure it was stepped in by the correct thickness of the plywood we had bought for the door itself. We secured it in place using wood pins. (We started working in the kitchen at that point as it was cold and dark outside at the time!)
Then we added some architrave to the frame to dress it so it would look pretty in the hallway. We stepped this out by 5mm to give it a fluted look. Again, we pinned this in place and we filled any joints with wood filler.
We traced around the hatch on to some ply wood and then cut this out to form the door. This was attached to the surround using hinges. We did this in the kitchen to ensure it all fitted properly before we installed it and because it was easier whilst it was flat on the floor.
We then added the catch (supplied to us by the loft ladder company – more on them in a minute) and some insulation tape all the way round the door to try and keep the house as warm as possible.Finally, we made a hook out of a piece of dowel (easily obtained from a hardware store) and a hook provided with the loft ladder – just a case of adding a couple of screws.
The Loft Ladder
We were really struggling to find a loft ladder which we could store in our tiny loft. All of the conventional ones which store inside the loft are quite long and we didn’t have the space between the hatch and any walls to store it up there or it would have eaten up most of our storage space. After lots of internet searches we found this beauty: BPS Access Solutions.
This ladder stores within the space of the loft hatch itself so is really compact and perfect for our needs! We were sold! BPS Access Solutions were an easy company to deal with too – we highly recommend them.
Installing the Hatch and the Ladder
Once we were happy that everything would fit together properly, we unscrewed the door hinges and removed the door so that we could just fit the basic frame in.
The loft ladder needed to be attached to one of the sides of the frame so we pre-drilled these holes in the kitchen because it was easier. We screwed the frame securely into space in the loft and then used the pre-drilled holes as guidelines for drilling through the joists so that everything would line up nicely.
The loft ladder is bolted through the surround and joist so it is nice and secure.
And here it is, fully operational!
We are so pleased we went with this ladder! It is perfect for our little space and actually feels more sturdy and secure to use than a conventional loft ladder too. This is particularly due to the lovely rubber treads which make it easy to climb and really easy to step up into the loft.
It’s really quick and simple to get out and put away too so, all round, we are big fans (can you tell). I would happily get another even if we lived in a house without space issues!
This turned out to be quite an easy and satisfying project. We did this quite a long time ago, but I’m still proud every time I have to climb into the loft! It only took us a day to do all of this from scratch and was much cheaper than getting a carpenter in to do it for us.