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I have recently moved to a house that has a converted attic. It isn't a huge space but would make a reasonable den or man-cave were it not for the fact that the staircase cuts the room almost in half and restricts the use of the floor space - see photoenter image description here

I've been thinking of doing away with the railings and getting a staircase or cellar type door instead. This would act as a sort of trapdoor and maximise available space.

I've measured up and been looking at various designs, for example this commercial offering and this one found on Pinterest.

My basic design is going to be a reinforced rectangle of wood attached with strong hinges to act as a trapdoor. There will be say a 4x4 retaining beam running along the opposite side to the hinges to keep the door in place when closed.

Does anyone have any tips that might be useful for me to know? For example what kind of hinges should I use, how best to reinforce a door panel to make it sturdy enough to be walked on? Any safety considerations and so on.

EDIT: I'm in a two story brick built house in the UK.

Thanks in advance for your help.

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From this picture it hardly looks like the stairs "cuts the room in half". In fact it looks like the stairs hug all the way to one side of the room.

I would strongly discourage you from proceeding with the idea that you propose. If the horizontal trap door were closed in the event of a fire it may very well be just that...a trap the prevents you from escaping in a timely manner, if at all.

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I also would discourage this idea. The railing is there for reason; to keep people from falling through the hole. No mater how you build your trap door you are always going to have a hole in the floor that someone could fall through.

  • With regard to safety, I think the commercially available solution (in my first link) is designed for walking on? And as the room is not used as a bedroom fire isn't a concern. Also I probably should have mentioned I'm in the UK in a regular brick built house. – 5arx Oct 21 '17 at 12:44
  • Sure looks like a bedroom. – manassehkatz-Reinstate Monica Sep 16 at 1:41
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    Your room that isn't used as a bedroom has a bed in it. – user3757614 Sep 16 at 2:27
  • @user3757614 The photo is from the sales brochure! Its not a bedroom anymore. – 5arx Sep 16 at 6:28
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Staircase doors are only really suitable for areas that don't see much use. (Basements and attics used primarily for storage, for example.) They're annoying to open since you have to either reach down to the ground or above your head, and need to pull against gravity to use them. This damages the usability of the space, not so much on a practical level, but on a psychological level.

Also remember that you can't use the space for a lot of stuff, since you still need the ability to open it. You won't gain as much room as you might want.

Finally, there's no way this meets code. You'll need to put everything back if you sell.

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