Ladder vs. Staircase

Ladder vs. Staircase. This is a huge topic in the Tiny House RV world. How will I access my loft? A staircase will take up room, but a ladder seems difficult and dangerous to climb. How can I decide? Don’t worry, I’m here to help! Let’s look at some photo examples and discuss the pros and cons of each.

Rolling ladder pictured in this Tumbleweed Elm

LADDER

Pros:

    1. Space Saving. A ladder will save you valuable floorspace. 
    2. Tuck it Away. Tuck your ladder behind a bookshelf or into a hidden slot. You could also use a rope ladder, which can be rolled up when not in use. 
    3. Versatility. Ladders can be used in any tiny home. Stairs are not possible is all tiny homes, especially those without dormers.
    4. Lightweight. Ladders are usually very lightweight, unlike stairs.
    5. Mobility. Simply move your ladder to access your front storage loft.
    6. Can be used on a slope. You can build your ladder to function on a slight slope instead of straight up and down. This will make it easier to climb and more secure. Use flat footed rungs. Rounded rungs can be uncomfortable underfoot, avoid these. 
Chris's Rolling Library Ladder. More photos here

Cons:

  1. Can be difficult / dangerous to climb. This is the biggest “con” of ladders.
  2. Pets cannot climb. If you plan on allowing your dog or cat into the loft, most likely they will not be able to climb a ladder (or at least not descend). If you have a pet monkey, disregard this con. 

Art's Ladder. More on Art's tiny home.

 

Art's Ladder stored out of the way. More on Art's tiny home.

STAIRCASE

Pros:

  1. Easy to climb. This is the biggest “pro” of stairs. 
  2. Can be used for storage. You can also hide utilities within a staircase, such as a water tank, water heater, etc.

Tumbleweed Cypress with storage staircase to the loft. Notice the loft has a cutout passage for staircase access.

Cons:

  1. There’s no way around it: stairs take up space. This is a big “con.” Of course, if you utilize the inside of your staircase as storage, this space could be functional.
  2. Heavy. Adding stairs to your Tiny House RV means that you are undoubtedly adding weight. You might need to compensate for the poundage elsewhere.
  3. Cannot be used in all Tiny House RVs. Stairs require a certain amount of headroom, at least for the top step. You will need to plan a-head for stairs (pun intended). Extend your dormers past the loft flooring, or create a cut out for staircase entrance to the loft. 
  4. Mobility. You cannot move your staircase. You will still need a ladder to access the front storage loft.

Tiny House Giant Journey's storage staircase made our of reclaimed crates. Notice the loft floor ends before the dormers.

 

Spiral staircase in Francis Camosse's Tiny House RV. Photo credit: telegram.com.

A normal staircase would not be possible in this Tiny House RV unless a portion of the loft floor was cut out for entrance, or the staircase was placed in the center. A spiral staircase is a great way around this obstacle. 

Is there another way? Of course! One of the most appealing ideologies behind Tiny House RV design is that you have the freedom to be creative. Use a rock climbing wall, a climbing rope or a pole vault to access your loft! Use alternating tread or a half staircase / half ladder. Use a slide or a fireman's pole to get down. Or how about an elevator?? 

So what are you leaning towards: LADDER or STAIRS? Comment below.

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Jenna BioJenna Spesard is currently traveling around North America in a DIY Tumbleweed Cypress with her partner, Guillaume. They are photographing and writing about their adventure and occasionally they will be hosting Tumbleweed workshops and open houses. Be sure to follow their tiny house and giant journey.

 

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