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Attic floor door over stairs?


Established Member

My girlfriend and I are talking about moving in together. As she owns her own house and I am renting I would be moving into her place. After discussions it has boiled down to I get to have the attic as space for my toys :). It is currently a small bare room (I am shortly going to measure it up and create a sketchup model which I could post). The main problem with it is that the stairs come up the centre of the room and cut it in half. Being a small room the logical tv wall would be the one you walk towards as you come up the stairs. This means that the banister is quite in the way and in general makes the room look quite small when I think it is actually of a usuable size. A solution that we have thought about is removing the banister around the stairs (ignore any building regs comments for now, we'll address that later) and putting in a door in the floor. This would mean that when you are up there you could close it and suitably covered would just be part of the floor and you could have a decent sized room.

Now I've looked all over the internets (;)) and cannot find anywhere where someone has done something similar (maybe because it contravenes regs?).

Surprisingly the hole in the floor is just slightly smaller than a regular door size which may be useful. If I was to use an external door (i.e. strong enough to be stood on) and then hinge it on one side I'd have my floor door. One thing is that it would be quite heavy (queue thoughts about spring or gas assists??). It'd only really be closed when there is someone in the attic in which case they could open it for a person coming up from below, and when the attic was empty the floor door would be open. There is still a door at the bottom of the attic stairs for fire prevention purposes and this will be staying.

Does anyone have any comments or suggestions?? My girlfriend's dad is pretty handy with the DIY and I have a few contacts to ask if need be for purposes of doing the work too.

We toyed with the idea of a sliding door into the floor cavity but this would take a lot more engineering.

I've attached some pics, they aren't great cos I only had my mobile on me but they might give some idea of the room. The approximate size is about 4m long (parrallel to the stairs) and there is about 2.5m between the supporting beams, with about 1m each side past the beams (that make sense??)

I've seen some cool solutions to people's av problems so I'm hoping you can help me too.




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Established Member
It looks like a tricky one to me....points to bear in mind...sitting up there with a nice movie....lots of volume....fire downstairs...do not hear smoke alarm....My house has attic...stairs narrow and would not comply with building regs these days so much so that estate agent said the attic room could not be called a bedroom as it is not habitable(safely) It may be ok to sit there alone at ones own risk but i think probably not insured if have lots of mates round.Also do hot amps/projectors ever burst into flames???...Cutty Sark fire due to vacuum cleaner left on i believe. As 50" plasmas now £700 or so i think better to spend the money on a multipurpose lounge these days and use attic for its natural use( junk heap according to her indoors but really good stuff which will be useful one day otherwise.) Tony.


Established Member
the door would be plently strong,the hinges though would not,it would required wood to be put all the way around to hold it,and as you said it would be hard to open.

Where exactly do the stairs come up?

the best solution would be to move the stairs to an unused corner.

what you could do,would be to raise the whole floor up 2 inches and hide a sliding board in the cavity,it would be easy to do just build studding the whole way around the floor and cover with t & g mdf,the another piece of ply that slides out and can be slid back in when not in use.


Standard Member
it depends what toys ;)

what about projecting on to the wall where the stairs come up and making the banisters less conspicuous (think drinks table etc...)


Established Member
Hi Guys

Thanks for the quick replies.

To answer a few questions and suggestions:

@Tony: I agree about the fire concerns, it's one of the reasons the door at the bottom of the stairs has to stay. I think the situation could be helped by the installation of the mains powered and linked smoke alarms like I have in my current house; one goes off, all go off; and obviously fit one in the attic. I have also considered that velux (or maybe someone else) sell escape ladders that can be hooked onto their windows. There is a velux window in the attic which I forgot to mention.

Unfortunately the lounge will never be suitable to be the kind of viewing room that I'd like it to be and it just about fits a 24" crt at the moment. The shape is wrong as is the decor and just doesn't lend itself at all to home cinema at any level. I originally considered trying to do a stealth install with in wall/ceiling speakers and a hidden lcd or drop down screen, but i came to the conclusion that it'd just end up as 2 unsatisfactory rooms, not a nice longe and a sub standard home theatre which is why I'm investigating the attic.

As for amps etc bursting into flames? I honestly don't know.

@velvitjester: I've attached some sketchup screen shots (I am learning by doing with the program at the mo though) so you can see the layout. I need to look closer, but I think the floor is already raised by the fact it drops by a good few inches in the tall central cupboard at the back. This may bring the sliding door back into consideration. I'm not sure about raising the floor though as the ceiling is just about tall enough to be able to walk about between the two beams running front to back and I don't fancy losing any more headroom.

Moving the stairs I don't think is possible as they run above the first floor stairs, and even if it was I don't think it'd be within the budget of the project :(

I agree with the bit about the hinges not being strong enough and I had planned to have a frame around the edge of the hole to support the door when closed.

@wabbit02: Toys = my HT gear, stuff I own now and stuff I'd like to buy. The room would be crying out for a nice big plasma and I'd probably like to stick a 50" on the wall. I've thought about projecting but the banister is in the way, doh! You should be able to see on the pics. I have thought about projecting after removing the banister too :)

Note on the after picture the lack of centre tall cupboard. I want to remove this to open up the space a little and at the moment it is a little pointless. The smaller cupboard next to it has to stay as it houses the boiler. This one would just get a bit of a tidy up and face lift.


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Established Member
Not quite as big as your access hole but a hinged door is how my loft access works. I only have a ladder going up there though. Mate of mine also has the same arrangement in his loft so it does work. My door is a sheet of 7ply plywood but the span like i say isn't as big as yours. Might be an idea to just make the hole smaller like a normal loft access hatch. Check my thread here http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=806147 for some pics of how mine is arranged.

Oh and definitely get rid of the bannister and get a projector, balls to the regs, you can always put the bannister back when you sell the house.
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Established Member
Cheers all, some really good stuff turning up here :)

@avanzato: Thanks for that link, that is a great looking floor door and is definetly what I am trying to achieve in that it'll hopefully be quite discrete when closed. I imagine that it'll have to have some sort of carpet pin down on both the door and the surround to keep the carpet in place, but I can live with that. I don't think I'd be able to afford to bring in the company to do it but seeing one certainly helps the planning thoughts, especially in that the door doesn't look to be hinged on the very edge....

@esdubu: thanks for the link to your project, I'm glad I'm not the only one considering a floor door :) Do you think on a gap the size I have (about the size of a standard door) that a single sheet of ply (same thickness as yours or thicker) would be strong enough to support someones weight or should I be considering building a frame underneath it to reinforce it?

I think I have no choice but to remove the banister if I want to use the room. There may be some way of building a removable banister though that I'm trying to think about too. Whether it is just a lift out and store or something more elaborate like drop/flip down/up I'm yet to figure out. I'm quite new to DIY for myself but I'd have some good support available that like a challenge. I wonder if it could somehow slide down into a wall cavity...hmmm

Projector, yes :) The more I think about it, the more it sounds like a good idea. I think I'd still go for a plasma initally on the wall for casual viewing and then in time save up for a projector. I've been watching reviews and the cost of entry level HD projectors is coming down all the time. I'd probably look to span a drop down screen between the beams and build a support off the side of the boiler cabinet as that would put it pretty much smack in the middle of the room. I've been thinking that I'll put in power and HDMI into this position when I cable the room anyway as the cost of some cable will probably be less than trying to run it at a later date.

@sawdust: Your attic is amazing, I wish I had that much room to play with :D. Your door took a little bit of looking too which is good as it is obviously quite stealthy, do you have a picture of your "space saver" staircase?

(doh, very nearly lost the post as in the time it took to write the forums went offline, thankfully copied it to the clipboard before posting :D)


Established Member
Cheers all, some really good stuff turning up here :)


@sawdust: Your attic is amazing, I wish I had that much room to play with :D. Your door took a little bit of looking too which is good as it is obviously quite stealthy, do you have a picture of your "space saver" staircase?


Here is a pic of the staircase:


It's not a spacesaver and I would stress that room cannot be classed as habitable because the stairs don't conform to building regs. Personally I don't care but that's obviously my choice. If you want to stick within the regs you will have a lot more work to do and I think you would have to keep the bannisters as well.

With the steps I have, I can open and close the hatch from the floor by pushing the handrail. When open, the handrail locks in place and is a big help when going up and down. When closed, it is plenty strong enough to walk on.



Established Member
My thoughts were towards a kind of concertina hatch effect. Build a couple of rails below floor level, and run maybe 8-10 'planks' of wood across to cover the entrance, and join them with hinges such that if pushed or pulled at one end, they fold up into a small area/volume, at the end ofthe stairs closest to the closet, which perhaps could be covered by something that would act as a table..

And probably shorten the size of the opening to half-2thirds left open. Perhaps make the banister 6-8 inches high (or a small 'wall') , and roof it like a long central table.

If the room was bigger you could have a snooker table over the hole, imagine entering the room via under the table. excellent.

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