A folding attic ladder provides direct access to one's attic for the storage of personal belongings and other items. Both its functional role and its ability be "hidden" out of eyesight when not in use makes the folding attic ladder a practical addition to most homes. This collapsible unit can replace an older, cumbersome, and possibly dangerous sliding attic ladder to help ensure safety, security, and ease of use. Unlike some attic ladders, a folding attic ladder may be stowed away relatively quickly, and without as much physical effort as older models.
When searching for an appropriate attic ladder, it is important to ensure that the ladder can structurally resist the burdens of heavy weight or wear from regular use. There are various load-bearing materials and designs used in the assembly of folding attic ladders; these will usually determine the weight capacity one should expect. Some folding attic ladders are made of wood and aluminum to provide a lightweight attic staircase that is relatively easier to retract than older ladders containing steel or other heavy materials, but these may not withstand as much weight.
Before buying or using any folding attic ladder, one should check to see that the minimum weight bearing is at least 250 lbs (113.398 kg). Although this minimum load capacity may be adequate in most situations, it is important to keep in mind that additional loads like boxes and furniture may be hauled up the same ladder, thereby adding a significant amount of extra weight. While most folding attic ladders are manufactured with this in mind, consistently stressing any ladder near or beyond the weight limit could increase chances of breakage or failure.
Installing a folding attic ladder requires some knowledge of construction, as the process might require the cutting or removal of existing roof support. If there is no existing pathway through the ceiling, one will also need to designate and cut a new crawl space through which to install the attic ladder. The difficulty of the installation process will vary depending on the current setup within the home, and the type of attic stairs purchased. Some stair kits may include all the supplies needed to complete the task, but will still require tools and know-how. It is therefore important to consider professional assistance when replacing existing attic ladder systems, or installing new ones, especially for those with a less-than moderate knowledge of home construction.