What Is a Scuttle Attic?

If you have seen a home with an attic with an opening on the ceiling below the attic, the chances are that you have seen a scuttle attic, while those of you that haven’t must be wondering what is a scuttle attic? This is a common feature in many houses with attics, especially old ones or those trying to save on space.

Attics are a common feature in homes built in climates where there is snowfall during the year. Houses in such climates, such as in many parts of the US, have sloped roofs that allow the rain and snow to slide off the roof without damaging the ceiling.

The empty space between the house and the sloped roof would go to waste had it not been for attics. Thus, attics are often built above the ceiling of the house and below the roof.

Attics are used in different ways depending on the size and usability of the space. Some use their attic only for storage, while some use it as an extension of the house itself.

However, irrespective of the function of the attic, any attic that is more than 30 square feet big and has a height of more than 30 inches at its highest point is required to have an access point.

Similarly, any attic with heating, cooling and other devices installed inside must have an access point. This is for ease of repair and safety and is dictated by the residential building code of 2012.

Though there may often be a staircase leading up to the attic, many houses do not have such a staircase since it would take up a lot of space. Instead, there is a direct opening that leads to the attic on the ceiling of the house.

That opening or hole in the ceiling or the wall that leads to an attic is known as a scuttle. The residential building code also dictates the minimum size of this opening.

For scuttle attics installed above the house’s ceiling, the opening should have dimensions of 25 inches and 30 inches.

An attic that can only be accessed from such an opening instead of a staircase is known as a scuttle attic.

There are three different kinds of scuttle attics depending on the type of opening they have.

Simple Scuttle Hole

This is the most common type of scuttle attic. The attic is simply accessed by a hole in the ceiling. The hole has a cover that is part of the ceiling but is removable.

To enter the scuttle attic, you usually need to use a ladder to push the cover upwards or sideways into the attic itself. Then, you can use the ladder to climb up into the attic through the scuttle or the hole.

The scuttle is usually rectangular or square in shape.

Pull-down Scuttle Attic

This is a more convenient type of scuttle attic. Here too, there is an opening in the ceiling that leads up to the ceiling above it. The scuttle has a similar cover.

However, the cover has a mechanism that allows you to simply pull it down to open the scuttle. There is a spring-loaded into the scuttle and a foldable ladder automatically comes down when you pull down the cover.

You can use the ladder to climb up into the attic. Due to the spring mechanism, when you close the cover of the scuttle, the ladder will automatically fold back in.

Though the pull-down scuttle attic is much more convenient, the ladder in the scuttle that is pulled down when one wants to access the attic will take up more space. If the ladder is too large, the scuttle opening can be enlarged easily.

Vertical Scuttle Attic

This kind of scuttle attic is usually built in rooms that have a sloped ceiling. The space towards the ends of the house is much smaller and can be used as tiny living spaces or as storage.

Instead of the usual practice of having a scuttle on the ceiling, a vertical wall has an opening around the height of a person’s knee. This scuttle is used to climb into the small space or attic alongside the room.

Bottom Line

A scuttle attic is a room under the sloping roof of a house that can be accessed by a small opening, known as a scuttle. The scuttle allows you to access the attic without a staircase.

Scuttle attics are an excellent way to save up on the space taken up by a staircase, especially if you have a small attic. Scuttle attics can be accessed by a ladder or the scuttle can have a foldable ladder built into it.