Ladders and Stair Cases

Many a tiny house builder has thought long and hard over their ladder or staircase option. In fact, some who dream about tiny homes would rather skip the loft and ladder all together opting for a single story approach. But what if you want to have a tiny home with a loft? What are you options?

There is a funny story about our ladder. See, I am horribly afraid of heights. It doesn’t even need to be very high. I don’t even like standing on a step stool to reach a shelf, but the entire time we were building our house I knew I’d eventually have to climb a ladder. Even though I was petrified I needed to put on my big girl pants and suck it up.

When we the loft was first completed we placed a small extension ladder against it. I could get up with little problem but getting down sent me into a panic that left me shaking and crying. I am really not ashamed to admit it. It took me over an hour to get the courage to climb down and I only did it when Matt promised to hold the ladder for me.

My cat piglet climbing the stairs to the loft in our tiny house.

Not wanting to deal with that again, Matt built a ladder. It is a simple ladder design with 2x4s, screws, and the right angle cuts. It attaches to the loft front with hooks and we can move it from the sleeping loft to the storage loft. I jazzed it up a bit with carpet pieces which helped Piglet climb it as well.
This made me wonder, though, how other tiny house builders designed and implemented their ladders. I know a lot of people are considering or building staircase designs as well.

You might use a library staircase design – the ladder being on wheels so it can be moved out of the way if it isn’t in use. You might use a metal ladder design. You might buy one or build one, but what makes a ladder the right ladder for a tiny house?

The Bespoke Spacesaver Staircase, which is available in several configurations at Stairplan.com, looks like it would be a viable option for individuals who do not want to use a traditional ladder.

Sarah at Tiny House Big Adventure shared her ladder design and build with me as well. You can see the design and the photos of the construction at her blog.

The more resources we have as a tiny house community the richer our experiences will be. If you’ve built your tiny home, what type of loft access did you choose? If you are in the planning process, what style ladder or staircase are you considering?


Laura is a contributing writer for Tiny House Listings and she walks the walk. Her and her husband live in a 120 square foot cabin in Asheville, NC that her and her husband Matt built themselves. You can learn more about Laura and Matt at their website 120squarefeet.com.

Want to get great tiny-house related stories like this sent directly to your inbox? You’ll also get new tiny houses posted for sale as well, absolutely free. Click here to join us.

This post has 28,454 views

Category : Blog

14 Comments → “Ladders and Stair Cases”


  1. karin

    Nov 28, 2012

    I have almost fallen down the temporary ladder to my loft one too many times…I am going with the pantry/closet/bookcase/desk drawers staircase. It will take up most of one living room wall, but it will leave the other wall completely open. I have planned out my tiny house according to the directions, with the hope that I will always be able to orient as planned, so I put the staircase on the north side, and windows on the south side. The storage staircase will act to insulate and the windows will allow me to easily see everything I need in the pantry/closet/bookcase/desk drawers. I have yet to build this part of my house–insulation goes in this week, yay!–but will post pics when it is finished. I got the idea from my friend Denny who is also planning a build, and from this pic: http://www.treehugger.com/sustainable-product-design/less-is-more-stairs-as-storage.html

    Reply

    • Laura M. LaVoie

      Nov 28, 2012

      I really love this idea and would love to photos of it when you’re done.

      Reply

  2. Macy Miller

    Nov 28, 2012

    Great post Laura, I am always a big fan of steps/stairs that include some sort of storage component, either drawers or shelves. I am in the process of designing mine right now and I have have ended here at the moment (http://minimotives.com/#jp-carousel-1673), with shelving for some storage baskets or maybe I will put drawers in. My loft is not as high as others so maybe it is a little more flexible for this, Everything in a tiny house seems to have more than one purpose, I don’t think the ladder/stairs have to be an exception, there is always room to incorporate some sort of dual purpose.

    Reply

    • Laura M. LaVoie

      Nov 28, 2012

      I love your design!

      I do like having multi-taskers in the house. Even though our ladder appears to be just a ladder it is also a cat tree/cat scratcher so I’m going to say it counts.

      Reply

  3. lizzie

    Nov 28, 2012

    Could you sent photos or more information about the clips on the top of the ladder? We also need have access to the sleeping loft and the storage loft and want to stick with one ladder if possible. lizzie

    Reply

    • Laura M. LaVoie

      Nov 28, 2012

      Let me see if I can get some photos of it for you. They were just big “hook and eye” type things from the hardware store. There are two hooks attached to the front of the sleeping loft (and two on the front of the storage loft) and eyelet style hooks screwed into the ladder so they join up. It is a really simple and elegant solution. I’m sure I can find some photos if I look back in my files.

      Reply

  4. lizzie

    Nov 28, 2012

    Thanks so much! I had not thought of doing it that way. We were thinking of attaching metal bars to the front of each loft and hooking the ladder over, “library” style. Yours is a good idea and we may try it. Best of luck! lizzie

    Reply

  5. Karen

    Nov 29, 2012

    I think its a good thing to be a little nervous about ladders and roofs…I work at a trauma hospital and you wouldn’t believe how many people get seriously injured falling off of them…even a stepstool to change a light bulb! I want a ladder that can be attached so it doesn’t fall over, but can be moved out of the way when not in use. I’m having trouble because I have a steeply sloping roof in the loft so the best place to put a ladder is right in the middle of the room. I also want something to grab onto as I step off the ladder so I don’t lose my balance. So thanks for all the suggestions and pictures on ladders and stairs…the more ideas we see the better able we are to find one that works for our individual situation.

    Reply

  6. Cat

    Dec 01, 2012

    I like the stairs that stairplans makes. I’m glad to see companies are starting to build for tiny homes. I would have to have real stairs in my small house (hopefully 18 months from now). I spent a weekend at a retreat and was assigned to a loft with a ladder, and it about killed my back. so no ladders for me. I didn’t realize how expensive staircases were until I started pricing them out online. better to build your own.

    Reply

  7. Gene Landrum

    Dec 01, 2012

    I’ve always enjoyed old houses with pull down attic ladders! By innovation a person could come up with lots of ideas to modify this concept! For instance, a light on the ceiling part of the pull down that comes on when the ladder is lowered for down light and other switch that turns on the upper light! By using ‘rope Led Lights’ you could decorate the latter any way that makes it attractive. By adding a small plateau to your loft then add the Pull Down, that way you have a place to egress and degress, plus w/remote operations the ladder/pull down or just a electric that pulls up a standard ladder w/collapsible hand rails as one would imagine this would give more room for the living part

    I’ve done some of these but not innovative enough to do photo/videos! “Big Minds, live in tiny houses!” (Think your ‘head’!)

    Reply

  8. Lynn Strough

    Dec 01, 2012

    Visiting friends years ago in Switzerland I saw an ingenious stair design. They had turned the old pig sty by their house into a tiny apartment with a loft bedroom and the ladder to the loft had triangular shaped steps, alternating with the wide side on the left & point on the right with the wide side on the right & point on the left, every other step. I don’t know if this makes sense without seeing it, but it allowed you to climb up facing the loft, like a traditional ladder, and to descend facing forward into the room, like on a traditional staircase, making it much more user friendly for people with fear of height issues.

    Reply

  9. Elizabeth Carter

    Dec 21, 2012

    We found a library ladder at IKEA in Atlanta yesterday. It is made of powder coated steel, is 86′ tall and almost 16′ wide. It leans inward at the top and has brackets that are designed to clamp to the library shelving sold at IKEA. For only $40 we think that we can make it work. If not, it can be returned. We are headed south on Tuesday to do some work on our tiny house.

    Reply

  10. stair spindles metal

    Sep 15, 2014

    Bathroom remodeling in Rye is another service that you can avail.
    Remember the price will reflect how much work the rental company has to do to set the unit up for you, how frequently it needs to be serviced, the amenities that you
    require, and the length of time you will need the rental.
    Installing a custom designed deck to your exterior just
    says relaxation.

    Reply

  11. Drew

    Sep 20, 2014

    I have been exploring for a little for any high quality articles or weblog posts in this kind of
    house . Exploring in Yahoo I at last stumbled upon this site.
    Reading this information So i’m satisfied to convey that I have a very good uncanny feeling
    I found out exactly what I needed. I most unquestionably will make certain to do not
    fail to remember this website and provides it a glance regularly.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

Send to Friend

Email Agent