Steel Loft Ladder

In my last post about Steel Loft Joists, I talked about the various metal components I have introduced in my tiny house in an effort to learn more about it as a building material. I designed my house as a shed roof for a variety of reasons but one was so that I could install a permanent loft ladder attached to the taller wall. I did not want to have to move a ladder around on a daily basis. I also wanted the look of cantilevered floating stairs. Since wood is not really strong enough (in my experience) to cantilever and hold up over time, I chose to again commission a welder on site to design a ladder out of steel.
In the design, I wanted to maximize the horizontal space between the door opening and loft so that the ladder would have a shallower slope. I used wood to mock up the ladder slope and spacing of the rungs. In the space I have, I could build the ladder with a 65 degree slope (75 degrees is more typical). I talked with Rory about what types and sizes of steel would be appropriate to achieve what I desired. Tube steel or solid steel, flat bar or angle iron, etc.
We decided to use a 1/2"x3" piece of solid steel as the diagonal support for the cantilevered pieces which would be attached with screws into the framing. I plan to have Doug Fir stair treads on top of the cantilevered pieces for aesthetic and comfort reasons so we decided on pieces of angle iron welded to the diagonal support. We were able to use scraps on site which was great!
I had Rory cut an angle into the face of each piece of angle iron on the outer edge so they would appear lighter but still be just as strong. We first thought about a simple 45 degree angle but then decided that something more dramatic was necessary. I don't know what the exact degree the final angle came out to be since I suggested using the length of a speed square for the length of the cut. Rory cut each of these pieces to 14" so I can either make all 16" wood treads or taper the width from 14" at the bottom to 16" at the top. I still need to figure out which option I want.
Then, Rory sanded and welded all of the pieces together. He predrilled holes in the diagonal support where I marked for the screws to tie it into the studs. He tapered the holes so that the flat head screws would be flush with the steel. He also suggested to leave it unpainted since it does look unique raw.
Rory helped me install the ladder with the aid of some clamps. I predrilled very small holes for the screws and then drilled the screws in working from the bottom up. I am very happy with the way the steel part of the ladder turned out! Once the wall sheathing is up and painted, I will install the wood treads.
For more photos, please check out my flickr!

Steel Loft Joists

As part of this tiny house project, I wanted to learn how to work with metal since my past build experience is primarily with wood. My first interaction with metal on this project was the galvalum undercarriage that I screwed into the floor frame with self tapping screws and then set inside the trailer frame. Of course the trailer is made out of steel so it's really the first but I had it custom made from Iron Eagle Trailers so I did not have to make any modifications to it before the build like used trailers may require.
My second interaction with metal was drilling holes into the trailer's angle iron flange for the HTT tension ties and additional holes for bolts through the bottom plates since some of the ones I had predrilled landed underneath studs. Lesson learned, it is easier than you think to drill through steel. I used a step bit I bought cheap from Harbor Freight and it held up to the job.
My third interaction with metal was my reclaimed corrugated siding. I used 4 full sheets on each end but then needed to cut diagonals in the top pieces to match the roof line. After trying out an angle grinder as suggested by a couple of people on site and being very intimidated by that tool, I kept putting it off until the day my metal roof arrived which meant I had to find a way to cut it and get it installed so I could get the roof on. Another person on site suggested I use tin snips to cut the metal so I tried that out on the diagonals. It was a little slow going, but with the aid of gloves and left and right handed snips, I cut all of the diagonals that way. I had heard that you could get a plywood blade for a circular saw and flip it backwards to cut metal so I decided to try that except with a metal blade for the perpendicular cuts. While it didn't cut like butter as people had suggested, it felt much safer than the angle grinder and I felt more empowered with each pass after the first rush of adrenaline.
My fourth interaction with metal was my roof. I had ordered a clip lock panel system which was very easy to install. I think the flashing took 3 times as long to install as all of the panels did and though I still have a lot to learn, I think it turned out well. It was less intimidating than I had expected and it has kept out the rain so far (fingers crossed).
After all of this metal work on the exterior, I decided to bring some to the interior. I had seen photos of a tiny house with steel loft joists which I thought looked cool and also added more head space since they were thinner than the 2x4s commonly used as loft joists in tiny homes. Since I am not yet a welder, I commissioned an experienced welder on site to weld pieces of 1"x2" tube steel to plates that I could screw into my studs. Most of the joist plates were different to accommodate the varied configurations of my stud framing. Some were flat plates for multiple studs and some were angle iron pieces for single studs.
Since the joists were made of raw reclaimed material, I needed to sand them. I got over my fear of the angle grinder this time since I was using a sanding wheel and not a cutting one that sends sparks everywhere.
After sanding the joists, I spray painted them satin black. Once they were dry, I installed them in their previously marked places. I set them at 6'1" from the subfloor with the intention of having a 1" finish floor so the finish clearance will be 6' under the joists and 6'2" in the space between them. It's a little lower than in some tiny houses but I wanted more room in the loft and will not spend all that much time standing under the loft since the closet and bathroom takes up a chunk of space and the kitchen the rest. Yet another experiment in spatial relations.
Stay tuned more more metal elements inside. For more photos, check out my flickr!