What Are Telescopic Attic Stairs?

Dan Cavallari

An attic is an upper floor in a home that is typically used for storage, since it may not be adequate as a living space because of the sloping walls from the peaked roof. In order to access this upper level of the home, a person will usually climb through a hatch in the floor of the attic space from the floor below. To make the process of accessing the space easier, some homes will feature telescopic attic stairs that are usually mounted to the hatch door. These telescopic attic stairs will extend downward to the floor below to allow the user to climb easily into the attic.

Peaked roofs create sloping walls in an attic making it an unsuitable living space.
Peaked roofs create sloping walls in an attic making it an unsuitable living space.

These telescopic attic stairs will essentially collapse into themselves when not in use, cutting down on the amount of space needed to store them. When the user is done with the stairs, he or she can push them up into themselves until they lock in place, and then the attic hatch door can be closed. The telescopic attic stairs will be hinged in various places along their length to make the telescoping action possible; when the stairs are fully extended, they are locked in place for stability while the user climbs them.

The materials used to make telescopic attic stairs can vary. In some cases, wood is used to create the stairs, though this can be an expensive material that is susceptible to cracking, warping, splitting, or even rotting in the attic space. Instead, steel or aluminum may be used to create the telescopic attic stairs. Steel can be quite heavy, however, so one of the most popular choices of material is aluminum, which is strong and lightweight, not to mention resistant to damage from water and bug infestations. Aluminum stairs are easy to mount to a hatch door, and generally won't weigh down the hatch so much that the door might fall open inadvertently.

Sometimes the hatch door and the stairs are sold as one unit, and the door itself may even be insulated to help regulate the temperature of the floors below the attic. The unit may include a handrail for added stability, and like the stairs themselves, the handrail is likely to be collapsible and made from any variety of materials, including steel, aluminum, wood, or even vinyl and plastic. The hatch door itself may be made from wood to ensure a pleasing aesthetic; wood doors are also easy to paint to help match the color of the door to the existing ceiling.

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