Floor access panels are designed to provide easier and safer entry to the roof level of a building when a stairwell leading up and out is not available. These hatches may also be used in addition to stairs in larger settings where multiple entry and egress points are desired. Often necessary for routine building maintenance and upkeep when any mechanical equipment is housed on a roof, floor access panels must be selected and installed with care to ensure the structural integrity of the building. Buyers, however, will find there are several basic types available, which means careful consideration should go into the selection.
Floor access panels are typically available in these types:
- Aluminum – This roof access hatch design is one of the most commonly used in many settings. Aluminum is often preferred because of its overall durability and its rust and corrosion resistance qualities. Easy to care for and sturdy by design, an aluminum floor access panel may be suitable for use in residential and some commercial and industrial settings.
- Galvanized steel – In some settings, galvanized steel may be required as a matter of code. This material is sometimes favored because of its inherent strength and its ability to stay a little cooler than aluminum, which enables it to conserve energy.
- Hurricane-rated hatches – In some regions, a hatch that is rated to withstand hurricane-force winds might provide the best choice. Combining the ease of access of an ordinary hatch with a more rigid design, this higher-end solution is designed to perform in the harshest of conditions.
- Panels with additional safety features – Floor access panels may also be purchased in galvanized or aluminum styles with extra safety features built in. Safety railings, for example, and warning lights that signal when a hatch has been left open can be important considerations.
A floor access hatch provides for fast, safe access from a building’s uppermost level to its roof. When selecting a hatch for installation, be sure to understand what qualities are best suited for the intended application and what might be required as a matter of building code. Whether aluminum or galvanized, properly constructed hatches are designed to enable access without compromising safety or building integrity in the process.