As you can see in these pictures, these step stools are hinged on top . This allows them to fold together exactly as a conventional step ladder for ease of storage. We don't use just a couple of cheap hinges, but a full 12 inch length of top quality 3/4 inch brass plated piano hinging. When in the storage position, they take up only 6 1/2 inches of space. For safety purposes, we don't recommend either step stool if you have little ones in the house. The reason is the possibility of pinched fingers when these are being folded out for use. Please consider either our KS-2 or BS-2 as a wonderful alternative. Either SS-2 or SS-3 stores very nicely either behind a chair, sofa, or in a closet. Both come fully assembled and yes, you may use the top step as an actual step. The SS-3 is particularly handy in the RV for washing the windows! I have also heard of these pieces being used as unusual display shelves in shop windows of various boutiques and gift shops. Both of my daughters went to different colleges and found that these step stools were very useful in reaching those top shelves in those clothes closets. I still don't understand why they make those so high!