Top-operation loft ladders - open and close from above

Why would you need a top-operation loft ladder?

Most loft ladders are operated from below. This is fine for most situations, where the ladder will only remain in the extended position for a short amount of time and the loft ladder provides the only means of access into the loft. However, many commercial buildings, such as schools, hospitals, offices, etc., require multiple ways to access a loft space, plant room or roof-top. For example, in the event of an emergency the person in the loft or plant room will have an alternative way to escape if the main route is unsafe or cut-off. Because the loft ladder may not have already been opened and extended, a top-operation loft ladder is needed.

A top-operable loft ladder may also be beneficial for the rare occasion that someone accidently shuts the loft ladder while another person is still in the loft, plant room or on top of the roof. This is a scenario most likely to happen in a commercial setting, but could also happen at home.

Which loft ladders can be operated from above?

The following loft ladders can all be modified to be operated from above:

These are all heavy-duty / commercial retractable ladders, which are suitable for a diverse range of projects. For more information, read our guide to heavy-duty loft ladders.

Top-operation loft ladders with a hatch

The Supreme loft ladder offers top-operable solution for projects where a loft hatch is required. The Supreme loft ladder is made-to-measure and comes in several versions, including fire-rated and flat roof access. It can be manufactured with top-operation.

The hatch itself is released via a Bowden-cable system, with a ring-pull or trigger conveniently positioned within the hatch box frame. The counter-balance system of the Supreme prevents the hatch from swinging open and the ladder falling to the ground. Therefore ensuring the safety of passers-by below.

The hatch can then be fully opened and the ladder extended by either an integrated handle/lever (where space permits) or via a second operating pole that is kept in the loft. Thanks to the counter-balance system, opening the hatch and extending the ladder is very easy.

Bowden-cable release for top operation loft ladders - Premier Loft Ladders

Bowden-cable release for top-operation Supreme loft ladders.

Elite top operable loft ladder - eyebolt and hook. Premier Loft Ladders

Elite top-operable loft ladder – eyebolt and hook for operation from above.

Top-operation loft ladders without a hatch

Sometimes a top-operable ladder is required that operates independently of a loft hatch. As such, the Elite provides the ideal solution. This heavy duty loft ladder is supplied without a hatch. Furthermore, it is very easy to use due to the advanced counter-balance system. As a result, it lends itself very well for operation from above.

The Elite can be fitted with an optional eyebolt (pictured here) and supplied with a second operating pole. Therefore allowing it to be operated from above.

Electric loft ladders

Another solution for opening and closing a loft ladder from above is an electric loft ladder. The only thing that they require is a switch to operate from within the loft or plant room.

However, there are a couple of important considerations for using an electrical loft ladder. The first is that it has an emergency back-up power supply. The best way to achieve this is via a built-in battery pack, ensuring that in the event of a power failure the ladder can still be operated. The other consideration is that there is an easy solution to manually over-ride the electric operation – a last resort in case of a complete power failure.

Supreme Electric Loft Ladder. Ideal for commercial applications. Premier Loft Ladders

Supreme Electric loft ladder features battery back-up and manual over-ride.

Final thoughts…

To summarise, operating a loft ladder from above needs to be carefully considered from the outset. This is especially important if it represents part of building’s emergency access / escape strategy. Only a limited number of loft ladders are suitable for top-operation and it is a feature that almost always needs to be fitted at the factory. Retro-fit of top-operation solutions may be possible, but can be complex where the loft ladder is integrated with a hatch.

If considering a top-operable loft ladder, please contact us to discuss your project. We will do our best to help determine the best solution for your needs.