Ridiculously Easy Loft Ladder For Tiny Houses

Ridiculously Easy Loft Ladder For Tiny Houses

One aspect of our hOMe build that we hadn’t put a lot of thought into (until it was the last minute) was our ladder to our Lounge loft. By the time we really needed one, we were tired from 3 months of building and feeling frugal after so many expenses. The idea of creating a custom ladder was more than we could bear. We needed something easy, safe, inexpensive and quick to put together. In strolling the aisles of our lumber yard we stopped at the attic ladder section and on a whim bought one for $105. We took a risk with the purchase but have been delighted since. In this article we outline how to make a ridiculously easy loft ladder for tiny houses using attic ladders.

loft stairs tiny houses

Our hOMe Lounge ladder looked exactly like this when we bought it.

1. Buy a wood attic ladder. Make sure that when extended the length is long enough to meet your own loft needs. For us in hOMe, just the smallest ladder was more than enough. We chose wood so that we could cut it to length easily but aluminum ones do exist.

2. Bring out your demolition tools and start hacking away at all the pieces attached to the ladder itself. There were a couple of set pins that were stubborn but with some attitude we were able to knock them out. Mind you, this isn’t exactly the most environmentally sound option because you will essentially be using just a portion of the overall product. Ideally you have a use for the left over wood.

loft stairs for tiny houses

Two simple hooks were attached to the ladder itself.

3. Attach two hooks to the ladder that will adequately fit over the black pipe (gas line pipe) that you will eventually be hanging your ladder onto. Make sure to predrill your holes for the screws. The wood is pretty thin and splits easily if you don’t do this step.

4. Cut your ladder to length. Don’t make your ladder so short that your angle is too steep. You should be able to walk up and down your loft ladder easily.

5. Stain or paint your ladder as desired. In hOMe we simply used leftover window trim black stain. We put one coat of varnish on top for added protection.

loft ladder tiny houses

Inexpensive black (gas line) pipe is used as the rails for the loft ladder to hang from

6. Attach the black pipe (we used 1/2″) to your loft face with two simple stainless steel 2 hole rigid conduit strap. In hOMe we actually have two of these ladder hangers. One for the ladder when it’s down and one to hang the ladder when we want it totally out of the way and flat against the wall. Make sure to attach wood blocks underneath the black pipe so that your ladder hooks have enough space to slide into.

That’s it! Simple as can be. Other options do exist but what we really like about this one is that it’s extremely light weight but totally sturdy. Even tall, large men can get up and down the ladder without any issue. We also like that this is something available in any large hardware store so there is no need for a special order. Lastly, we actually really like the way that it looks. The lines are clean and simple and work within hOMe’s aesthetics really well we think. Though we had initially thought that this would be a temporary solution, we see absolutely no reason whatsoever to change it at any point.

Getting up and down this ladder is easy and safe

Getting up and down this ladder is easy and safe even for 6′ tall Andrew

ladder hanging

When hanging on the wall, the ladder is totally out of the way and opens the space up a lot

29 Responses to Ridiculously Easy Loft Ladder For Tiny Houses

  1. bob September 21, 2014 at 1:26 pm #

    I like this idea when a ladder is called for in a tiny house. I actually had/have an idea for the left over section immediately after reading that part in the article…
    I would use the left over section to make a short step ladder if that is a desire to reach into the upper cabinets in hOMe or any other tiny house.

  2. frank d September 21, 2014 at 3:34 pm #

    You fail to mention how you sorted out the folding part. I have used and personally installed several of these attic ladders in homes and garages; and they fold into three parts, so surely you added some bracing so it wouldn’t flop at the hinges when you move it about. Personally, knowing how flimsy the wood is on these things, I’d rather hack a fitting solid single length ladder. Maybe chop one of my step ladders, remove the top with swing out legs, add a bracket, paint, sturdier assembly. Done.

    • Gabriella September 21, 2014 at 3:41 pm #

      Good question frank d! We actually didn’t do anything with the hinged part to lock it into place. Because of it being moved such a short distance it just never buckles. And we figured it may be good to have it be able to fold if at some point we wanted to leave it up in the Lounge loft for some reason. We haven’t found the wood to be flimsy at all and we go up and down it on average 5 times per day easily.

  3. groot September 21, 2014 at 4:25 pm #

    “Make sure to predrill your holes for the screws. The wood is pretty thin and splits easily…”

    You seriously paid 109 dollars for this?

  4. cathy September 21, 2014 at 4:33 pm #

    Groot, Here’s the ad from home depot online. $104 and free shipping.

    http://www.homedepot.com/p/Werner-8-ft-25-in-x-54-in-Wood-Attic-Ladder-with-250-lb-Maximum-Load-Capacity-W2508/203009098?N=5yc1vZaqfh

  5. Liz September 22, 2014 at 7:18 am #

    The inside of you home looks pretty spiff…..
    Can you feature pics of it in an upcoming issue????
    Thanks, Liz

  6. Damaris September 22, 2014 at 4:17 pm #

    Did it take you both working full time on the house to build it in 4 months? Or was that part time when you weren’t working a “real job”. My husband and I want to duplicate your build but can’t take off 4 months from work lol.

    • Gabriella September 24, 2014 at 6:44 pm #

      Damaris, that was very much us working full time on it. Had we been working on it part time and just on weekends it would easily have taken us 6-8 months. I totally get the challenge though of building while keeping a day job. We’ve had to do that most of the times and it’s really a challenge, but ultimately doable!

  7. Lawren September 22, 2014 at 5:09 pm #

    Good suggestion. I pondered over a similar problem for a while and eventually ended up using the ladder portion of a metal “deer stand” (for hunters). Our loft ladder is quite close to the wood stove so needed to be non-flammable, and one segment of the 2-piece deer stand was just the right height. The short bit of remaining ladder and platform became a pseudo-treehouse for the kids.

    • Gabriella September 24, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

      Great idea Lawren!

    • Linda October 1, 2015 at 12:38 am #

      I looked at deer stand ladders at Fleet Farm, also an attic ladder at Home Depot-now about $98, like the idea of using 1/2 of a wood step ladder if I can find one cheap and tall enough for our loft off the first floor. Lawren, did you find your deer ladder heavier than what you’d think a wood one would be? I could use wood-being far enough away from our stove, and can I find one second hand to keep the cost down? How did you attach it at the top, to the loft floor level?

  8. Heather September 23, 2014 at 12:04 am #

    A little bit off-topic – I just watched your video on youtube giving the big tour, and I really LOVE all the windows, but I noticed you don’t have curtains. Does it ever feel *too* open? What do you do when you hop out of the shower or are getting dressed?

    • Gabriella September 24, 2014 at 6:42 pm #

      Hi Heather! I think we would feel a bit too exposed if we lived within eye sight of any neighbors but we can’t see anyone and no one can see us

  9. Aaron September 28, 2014 at 1:41 pm #

    Hi guys, I really like the ladder idea. I am just curious because I see in your final photos or in your video, it looks different than in some of these photos. It looks like the ladder hanger to the left is attached to a wall, which seems missing in other photos. Was that a change you made later? Do you not store your ladder anymore or do you have another place for it?

    • Gabriella September 28, 2014 at 9:10 pm #

      Good eye Aaron! Many of our photos are of hOMe before we put the pony wall up to the lounge (both for comfort by increasing the seating area up there and also for safety). Our ladder now has two hanging spots (one for when it stores behind the stove and one for when it’s out for use). Hope I’ve explained that well enough to answer your question! 🙂

  10. Michael May 29, 2015 at 11:32 am #

    Great Idea, I have a problem though, I’m handicapped, and have a very bad back. I wish I could use this ladder. So I have to have one, I guess that takes up more room. I’m so excited to see how the Tiny House Movement is taking off. Thanks to the FYI channel, I would have never known anything about it. I have bought every book I could find on this subject. I live in San Diego, CA, I hope they will let you park one on your property. Thank you so much for sharing your design and your beautiful home.
    Thanks again, Michael

    • Gabriella June 2, 2015 at 10:08 am #

      Thanks for writing Michael! Super that you have caught the tiny house bug. Keep us posted on the journey! 🙂

  11. Janis October 24, 2015 at 11:59 am #

    Thank you so much for this information. I had been looking at $800 – $900 library ladders and THAT is RIDICULOUS in a tiny house unless you have big bucks! I couldn’t find a manufacturer who just sell me the hardware for the ladder. I would have had to buy the whole kit.

    Someone mentioned making the ladder by de-constructing a wooden step ladder, which I did some research for online. I finally found one that seemed adequate for $98 but it would have cost another $90 to ship it to me. It didn’t have reinforced steps and they were only 3.5 inches deep. The only deer ladders I found were metal and I want a wood ladder for aesthetic purposes.

    Consequently, I ended up getting a little more expensive attic ladder (Louisville Ladder), because it had 5.5 inch deep, non-skid steps that are reinforced with metal rods under each step. This ladder was $198 and shipping was free – so it ended up being the same price as the wooden ladder would have been with shipping, and a much better quality ladder to boot!

  12. Stephanie November 14, 2015 at 12:55 pm #

    Love this idea! Did you cut from the bottom of the ladder? If yes, did you need any kind of rubber footings once cutting was complete? Where did you find your hooks?

    • Gabriella November 16, 2015 at 5:43 pm #

      Hi Stephanie! Yes, we cut from the bottom and then placed adhesive padded floor protectors to the bottom. The hooks are just really simple hanging hooks that we got at HomeDepot in the hardware section.

  13. Wayne December 18, 2015 at 6:22 am #

    Love the idea! A great option compared to the outrageously expensive library ladder hardware. My question is in regards to the hooks. Are they common coat hooks? Are they attached with regular screws into the thin rail tops of the ladder? And do you hang them inside or outside the pipe. It would seem that hanging them from the inside over the pipe would let the ladder rest on the loft and put less stress on the hook connection. If none of that makes sense, maybe a closeup photo of how the hook rests on the pipe?

  14. ericka June 29, 2016 at 11:39 am #

    Hey! So we just bought an attic ladder for our salon and took the attic piece off, but the only problem is that the first hinged piece isn’t locking into place so we can’t climb up. Any suggestions on how you did it?

    • Gabriella July 1, 2016 at 10:02 am #

      Hi Ericka! I’m not certain I’m understanding the issue exactly -but- I think that what you are saying is that the main hinge which is in the middle of the ladder isn’t locking and still folds. If so, then ours is the same way. The way that we get ours to lock automatically is just by creating an angle in the ladder itself. So in other words, we attached the hooks on the back of the ladder and cut the ladder long enough so that it falls at around a 60 degree angle (we are just guessing with that number). So when we attach the ladder to the bar, it’s not going straight up and down the wall, it’s sticking out at a slight angle. When we stand on the ladder, the hinge opens all the way and we’ve never once had an issue with it wanting to close. If I didn’t understand your question please don’t hesitate to ask 🙂

      • /bob July 1, 2016 at 4:58 pm #

        I think you also want to be certain the hinge is on the back side of the ladder, IOW the side away from what side you are climbing on, so the ladder holds itself straight when you climb rather than wanting to fold.

  15. Kelsey February 22, 2017 at 3:33 pm #

    Hello. I’m trying to figure out a railing system for a used hook library ladder we found for our loft. I love the idea of using the pipe you used, but I can’t figure out what sort of bracket to attach it with. I’m unfamiliar with what a c bracket is, and searching for that term on a hardware store’s website isn’t clearing matters up. Thank you for any guidance you can give, and thanks for the diy inspiration!

    • Gabriella February 23, 2017 at 10:31 am #

      Hi Kelsey! Do a search for “Stainless Steel Two Hole Rigid Conduit Strap”. I’ll change the wording on this article too so it’s clearer 🙂

  16. Shana July 18, 2017 at 3:25 pm #

    Hi there. I bought an attic ladder and I am all set to do this, but I am curious how you demoed yours. I am looking at it and it does not seem that easy. Hoping you can give me some advice because I am excited to install this and use my loft! Thanks in advance!

    • Andrew July 31, 2017 at 10:42 am #

      Hi Shana. Believe it or not, the old answer: “get a bigger hammer” was somewhat in play here! I used a nail set and a hammer to drive the rivets out from the two sections (keeping the part I wanted and discarding the one I didn’t). It took some serious strikes to get the rivets to pop away, but with persistence (and a big hammer) I was successful. Good luck!

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