Sunday, February 3, 2013

Attic Ladder Innovation

I am pushing harder than ever to influence design of residential attic ladders, where my interest is entirely in wood ladders, whether with an ordinary insulated door, or a fire-rated door. Here is an example of what I am after, in a wished-for ladder from prominent supplier Fakro.

Apply the same principles in a ladder for more-ordinary ceiling height:

Our homes and our needs are so varied. I am able to, and do, customize a ladder for each situation. The first freedom taken, is in lengths of intermediate sections. The second is in setting the ladder angle as I choose, as shallow as possible down to about 60°. I think the ordinary ladder has four sections, of lengths to suit our peculiar needs, with full attention to individual comfort and safety. I have three respected suppliers for USA installation of products FakroCalvert USA, and MidMade. All of these suppliers offer out-of-the-box ladders of three sections, of equal or nearly-equal length, and with wood ladders set a fixed angle. They despair of serving the specific need of any end-user.

Landing to the floor within space available and avoiding obstacles, is the complex need.  If you have begun and find a surprise, there must be a solution. If you could land the ladder more favorably at a steeper or shallower angle, you will want to. I speak mainly of an "unlucky bottom step", too close to the floor. Hit of a door header is another common unpleasant surprise. And, what if the bottom just doesn't quite reach the floor? With a hole in your ceiling, you must safely fulfill your commitment. There are supportive needs that will never be met by a big-box store or online seller, whether the product be that unique ladder, or bicycle.

I think attic ladders are similar in consumer demand, to bicycles. One size or flavor does not suit all. Besides facing unique needs, ladders are like bicycles in their fragility in shipment. Many manufacturers, and there are very many, serve only a local market. A manufacturer embracing bicycle-shop-like distribution, with safer and less-expensive shipping, could expand its market.

I have much more to say on this subject. Some of it is in the form of an open letter to manufacturers, as a page at my r5portals web site


Betterhome WA said...

I'm searching the web with regards to attic ladders and I'm very impressed with this very informative blog. Thanks for sharing!

Scott Tice said...

You need custom options, built to order. Most manufactures stick to the plan and are hamstrung by bean counters. I'm afraid custom comes with a price. Good luck.

Phil Norman said...

I don't think custom installations must be costly. A manufacturer may offer innovation to circumstances through professional installers. Those installers may order kit ladders with customized section lengths, at nearly the cost of a standard ladder sold in large quantity. The challenge in serving customization is ensuring competence of the installer, who will make informed purchases with a lot of independence. Computer graphics skills and software may be essential, and not affordable to an average home owner.