Attic & Loft Stairs for Lofts and Dormers

Loft Conversions, Dormer Extensions, Stairs and Staircases

ConversionFloor Joists 

Stairs for Attic Loft Conversions

The first stage in a loft conversion is usually construction of a staircase up to the loft.

Stairs are governed by building regulations so general architectural details are provided in the building/floor plans.

Staircase are either individually constructed 'on site' for tight and awkward spaces to ensure they fit precisely and are soundly constructed, or pre-manufactured where prices are considerably lower - See price guide.

This example illustrates our design ingenuity when creating a functional, space-saving and attractive flight of stairs.

TopDesign Information

The final design of a staircase is rarely specified in building plans and so ideas can be developed up to the commencement of the conversion itself.

The design elements of the staircase that may be influenced include:

  • the stairway
  • handrail
  • steps: riser and going
  • under-stair design
  • top of enclosed staircase e.g. as a ledge/shelf
  • banister
  • stair door

The pictures show a traditional and solidly constructed staircase which is supported by the existing wall (left) and partition wall (right). Under the stairs is finished as an open design feature.

Stair Plans

Architectural plans show and explain the loft layout, the location of the stair opening and its dimensions.

Once drawn up, further redesign of staircase structure may require fresh plans approval, for example, changes to an open plan, curved or spiral staircase.

When developing the loft design from outset we can demonstrate and explain all your design options before plans are drawn up.

This way advanced styles such as decorative, modern, contemporary, traditional or unique staircases, including: Helical, spiral and minimalist designs may be efficiently designed to regulation.

Staircase Lighting

Loft Staircase Lighting
Top of staircase

A staircase requires electrical lighting with on/off switches at top and bottom.

Our example shows how the top of the stairwell has been capped with a ceiling and practical feature shelf/ledge.

If these stairs had not been capped, the loft room would have been smaller and the skylight above the ledge would have provided light into the stairwell.

In reality - post conversion - the loft door was removed and natural light enters the stairwell from the loft area.

If you choose an open staircase then the positioning of loft windows will influence the amount of natural light entering the stairwell.

TopStair Design Ideas

How you plan to use your converted loft will influence the amount of privacy, security or safety you build into your loft staircase.


For example, if you attic conversion is to be used as a playroom, then you may want carpeted steps, higher, more sturdy banister and handrail or enclose the loft, separating it from the stairs with a wall and door.


A loft used as an office will generally benefit from the additional security and sound insulation provided by a wall and door at the top of the stairs.


If your loft is designed for use as a kitchen then you may prefer a more open plan approach and decide on wooden banister and steps, varnished for low maintenance and to match a wooden loft floor.


Staircase Design
Velux picture

Installing a VELUX® skylight in the roof above the staircase will flood the stairwell with natural sunlight or moonlight.

For peace and quiet, light control and privacy almost always you would chose a design with a fully enclosed loft, just as regular bedrooms have.

Stair Balustrades

You may want to install designs to match your existing stair designs, have a unique loft style or refurbish your entire staircase to add a new touch of style to your home.

Staircase balusters
  • Spindles turned in wood and hard wood in various woods, colours, shades, widths and lengths.
  • Spindles in Barley twist, rope twist, fluted, octagonal designs perhaps to match molding designs in the loft.
  • Timber balusters in plain square, fluted, chamfered designs
  • Metal balustrading, black, sand-grain finished to contrasting with the wood, these are elegantly designed with twists and decorative work
  • Fashionable metal connectors for balustrade and handrails

TopBuilding a Loft/Attic Staircase

Constructing a basic staircase for a loft conversion follows 11 stages:

Loft Stairs

  1. Checking building plans
  2. Stripping back to the bare wood the area that will become the landing
  3. Building a load baring timber-frame wall (stud-partition) from floor to ceiling. This supports the sawn attic joists and ceiling
  4. Check and re-route and electrical cables/wiring or plumbing in the loft that obstruct the opening into the stairwell and route to where they will be required
  5. Accurately measure and mark and cut the opening in the loft. Sawing through ceiling and now supported joists and disposing of waste
  6. Install the diagonal 'strings', these form the sides of the staircase and carry the load of the stairs
  7. Make the steps (treads and risers), measure and mark entire string, glue and tension screwed wedges (noggins) where treads/goings (horizontal) and risers (vertical) sit, joined at the overlap by a rebated groove. Minimum depth of tread/going is 220mm; Maximum rise not more than 220mm
  8. Build in any turns, installing a newel post (vertical post from the ceiling) firmly bolting it to the attic joists. Constructing kite-winder (up and round) or quarter turn landing (flat)
  9. Fitting handrail and balusters to agreed designs
  10. Around top of flight of stairs build a handrail or partition wall and design elements depending on room use and designs.
  11. Plaster and skim the partition walls and decorate.

TopStaircase Regulations

Stair Dimensions and Safety Requirements

Building regulations vary by county, but generally there needs to be sufficient headroom available over the new stairs or landings.

This should not be less than 2 meters (centerline - from pitch line or stair-tip to ceiling), although exceptions can be made where there is not the space for this headroom. Regulations also govern rise and going of treads.

Where there is insufficient space for a standard staircase an alternating tread staircase or a fixed ladder may be acceptable as access to a single habitable room. On occasion spiral staircases to the loft are permitted to save space.

Alternating Tread Staircases

Alternating tread staircases are a specialist staircases are slightly steeper and are usually permitted in only small single room conversions which are physically constrained.

In the UK generally, the traditional straight stair style is preferred, with landings bottom and top and equal size steps.

All plans use tangent principles, meet incline building regulations, and adhere to quality stair building specifications.

In houses open plan layouts are not approved and stairs should rise from a hallway, otherwise fire protection partition (door) must be provided.

In bungalows stairs need to discharge at ground level into a hallway with a final exit door that will serve as an exit in case of fire.

In habitable rooms there also needs to be escape windows or roof lights

Attics which are used simply for storage space which cannot be used as living space require only access such as a loft ladder. Of which we can supply and install from a wide range of practical and elegant designs

Top Top Conversion Floor Joists

:: SEE ALSO ::

Straight staircase example

Bedroom conversion Example pictures

Double Kite Wind Example pictures

Kitewind stairs Example pictures

Architectural Floor Plans

General Regulations

Building Regulations Law

Full 2000 Building Regulations

Loft Windows

Skylight windows

Electric Controls