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 the 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.
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 into a livable space if you only have room for a loft ladder or retractable stairs as these would not provide a safe escape from fire.
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 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 handrails 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.
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.