Category Archives: Stairs and loft ladders

Which is the best way to access your loft

Choosing new Stairs for the your conversion

At the very beginning of the loft conversion, in the ‘ideas’ stage, after the ‘lets make the loft into bedrooms’ thought, there will be the plan to build some stairs from the current landing into the the loft.

The design considerations of the staircase is possibly the main piece you have to get right. Planning rules and regulations for staircases are very specific and could force you to alter your ideas of where you can situate your new stairs.

Strangely, despite the importance and design rules of the staircase it’s normally one of the later jobs to be started during the loft conversion. Opening a big hole in the ceiling is going to be very messy so it’s normally left until later, after the new loft floor, insulation and stud walls have been completed.

Existing stairwell design

In the vast majority of casse the existing stairwell in the best place to start thinking about situating your new stairs to go up into the loft. Using the existing stairwell and appropriate fire doors gives you the protected stairwell the local planning people will insist on before they will approve your plans.

Example of the original layout

stairsOriginalLayout

The common design layout is where there is a box room above the current stairs which lead to the landing.

New stairs with a 90′ angle from landing to save the box room

Depending on the size of your landing area, and of course your preferences, you can leave the box room alone and start with a couple of steps from the landing to a small platform and then turn 90′ and continue the rest of the steps over the current stairs into the loft.

stairsFromLanding

Removing the box room creates a larger landing

If space in the landing is a little tight then the best idea may be to lose the wall separating the small bedroom to the landing and install the new flight of stairs directly over the original ones.

newLandingLayout

This option opens the landing completely and allows the extra light from the window in the box room to fill the landing.

Head height in the loft

One very important thing that needs considering is the head height allowance in the loft where the new stairs will emerge. You will need at least 2m clearance to the new ceiling (i.e. after the insulation and boarding has been fitted).

Terraced and semi-detached houses normally have the stairs against the wall to the neighbour, so head height isn’t normally a problem in this case, but it’s such an important issue it’s worth checking and double checking.

What to do if there’s not enough head height.

Having a sloping roof above your stairwell means you’ll have to seek some creative options for your new stairs so they come out into the loft at a suitable place where head height won’t be a problem.

You may have to turn your stairs at a right angle, taking some space from one of the two larger rooms. It’s imperative there’s enough head height in the loft where the new stairs will end. You’ll need a minimum 2m head clearance across the full width (800mm) of each step.

As described previously most homes will be fortunate to be able to run a new flight of stairs over the existing landing, or losing the box room at the front and taking the stairs in a straight line.

Modern homes tend to be more compact, and with smaller room,s comes smaller loft space and less head height. If this is the case and you can’t fit a traditional style staircase then you will want to look at installing a spiral or compact staircase.

Spiral staircase and compact space saving stairs.

spiralStaircase.stairsdirectSpiral staircases can be the ideal choice to install a staircase where floor space is limited. If you’re landing is compact then you may be able to make a bit of extra space by opening a cupboard up.

Stairs Direct UK provide a range of spiral staircases available in various designs, sizes and at different price points.  As well as a compact design they also add touch of style to your home.

Stairs Direct UK are staircase specialists when it comes to loft conversions having supplied hundreds of stair solutions for the smallest to largest of loft conversions.

From simple all timber staircases to spiral staircases and space saver
stairs, Stairs Direct UK have a showroom in Leeds for customers to choose
exactly what they want and have a network over surveyors and installers
across the UK.

Their Civic Spiral staircase starts from a very reasonable £769 and comes in black, white or silver at various tread sizes and is suitable for different heights by reducing or adding treads.

You can order kits direct or have Stairs Direct help with the survey and installation. As with standard staircases, there are regulations to guide you, which take into account how the stairs will be used e.g small private, main household stair or semi public, as well as the dimensions of the stairs and gaps between treads and spindles.

compact spiral staircase

Spiral stairs have proved very popular in recent years for loft conversions
due to their space saving and aesthetic qualities and can be as small as a
100cm diameter spiral staircase but for building regulations purposes they
often have to be at least 1400mm diameter stair

To find out more about spiral and space saving staircases visit their web site at Stairs Direct.

Compact Staircases and Alternating treads

Hampton-Spacesaver

Compact stairs which look more like traditional stairs but steeper with smaller treads, will be permitted in some circumstances (to access single rooms like a main bedroom with en suite allowed). However these types of stair aren’t really suited for the elderly, children or people with mobility problems.

Loft ladders aren’t permitted in any case for a loft conversion.

Popular Ways to Gain Access to Your Loft Conversion

Popular Ways to Gain Access to Your Loft Conversion

Your First Steps

Decisions about types of access to your loft conversion will be based upon the space you have available for access. The type of access you can install will, in turn, dictate the practical use to which you can put the loft. So this is really the place to start with your planning.

Remember you must comply with all the appropriate building regulations if you are converting your loft and there are specific regulations relating to stairs if you plan to convert your loft into a liveable space. Although a loft conversion does not normally require planning permission, there are some limits and conditions which apply so have your plans checked thoroughly before you start.

New Staircase

Depending on the layout of your home, the space available and the options for entry points into the loft you could install a new staircase in the stairwell and continue your existing stair design. If you cannot extend from the stairwell you could have a separate staircase installed which could be in a traditional, open riser or alternator style, straight, dog-leg or L-shaped, according to your requirements. Staircase options allow for a full loft conversion because of the easy access they provide.

Loft Ladder or Retractable Stairs

If the space for access is limited you may only be able to install a loft ladder or retractable stairs. This would make your loft suitable for storage use or limited access – perhaps to house a model railway. Loft ladders and retractable stairs are available in metal or wood in a range of practical designs, folding or sliding, manual or electric. To comply with building regulations you could not normally convert the loft in to a liveable space if you only have room for a loft ladder or retractable stairs as these would not provide a safe escape from fire.

Spiral

If you are looking to save space and have an access point not obstructing frequently used walkways then a spiral staircase is a great option. These come in a whole range of styles and sizes and consist of a central column out from which the treads fan. Treads can be made from a variety of materials including wood, metal, glass, acrylic and stone so you are sure to find a style in keeping with your interior design. Check whether your space-saving stairs comply to loft conversion building regulations before you install them.

Floating

Floating stairs make a beautiful design feature in any home. If you like the look of floating stairs but are nervous about the openness, especially if you have small children, don’t worry, clear balustrades and hand rails can be incorporated without detracting from the design impact. While these can be made in a wide range of materials there are some building regulations relating to their design so, once again, make sure you check first.

Bespoke

Whatever style of access you select for your loft conversion, you can have a bespoke design to meet your exact requirements. Whether you want straight, spiral or floating you can choose from a wide variety of materials and design features to get the exact look, either blending in the access point or making a bold statement.