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In my continuing pursuit of gutting this house and trying to better it; the snow has finally broken and its time to get back to work.

We really, REALLY, want to use the attic space as storage / den / office space.

We've finally come to the conclusion to use the spare room's closet as the space for a staircase to the attic. its an insignificant space (

I just took a rough measurement of the closet - total run: 4 feet 4 inches (inside stud to inside stud) and a total rise: 7 feet 6 inches (floor to finished ceiling)

Is it possible to put a staircase in this space? there is 1 other space i can use to put the staircase, but i'd rather not - it would put the staircase in the middle of the attic, in our opinion, cutting the space up there too much.

I've tried online calculators - i haven't found one (or dont understand how to) enter in the total run. i know the space is small compared to how big the main staircase is in the house. It must be possible.

And I'd rather not use a ceiling ladder.

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2 Answers

up vote 13 down vote accepted

First of all, since it sounds like this could be considered "occupied space", you better check your local building codes and/or with your local inspector to see what is allowed. Most codes have specific requirements for stairs, and in some jurisdictions strange things like spiral stair cases may not be allowed or may require specific approval because of their narrow treads.


I'd definitely look to see if there is any way to get more space at all. For example, what is behind the closet? If you can lose a bit of ceiling height there, you could get a bit more room for the staircase. Likewise, is it acceptable to have the stairs coming out into the room at all? This too, will provide a bit more space. Using this calculator, if you can do 10 rises of 8" (this may be steep though), you need 6'8" of total run space.

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Depending on the adjoining space, you might also be able to make use of the room under the stairs.


If you can't get any extra space, you might consider a "ladder staircase" (kind of a hybrid of ladders and stairs):

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There are some interesting designs for these, including alternating treads:

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And some really funky variations if you want to be really creative:

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Another example of alternating treads, and even a turning point (don't know the English word) if needed: misterstep.com/EN/product/54333-19733-19733-mini-plus.html In Dutch we call it a "ruggengraattrap", which could translate into "spinal staircase". –  Arjan Mar 17 '11 at 23:05
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If the closet is deep enough then you could fit a spiral staircase in the space. You will generally need at least a 44" square of floor space.

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