I'm designing an elevated deck/swingset combo and am trying to figure out how I'm going to build the ladder.

But I've got a couple of challenges. One is that the main posts will be ground-contact rated pressure-treated wood, which from what I read corrodes basically all metal except stainless steel.

Another is that most ladder rungs I've found you need to weld in place, and I don't have welding equipment or training.

This is my first shot at a ladder design (safety cage is planned but not pictured):

diagram for ladder

Deck height is 12ft.

I've been looking up hardware to build this but having a bit of trouble. A stainless steel ladder rung mount would be nice but I can't find it. Basically I just need a ladder I can attach to this pressure treated frame.

Anyone have any ideas?

  • Dead vertical is highly dubious, ladder design-wise.
    – Ecnerwal
    Jun 14, 2020 at 16:38
  • Thanks. Going to update the design with a 4:1 slope instead.
    – RandomEngy
    Jun 14, 2020 at 20:57
  • 2
    Any ideas questions don't do well in our Q&A format. What's the question, exactly? Why aren't you building the ladder from the same material as the rest of the structure?
    – isherwood
    Jun 15, 2020 at 1:45
  • my fort had a rope ladder. took some extra dexterity to use, but you could pull it up to keep dad out...
    – dandavis
    Jun 15, 2020 at 4:29
  • 1
    @blacksmith37 fastenerengineering.com/…
    – RandomEngy
    May 7, 2022 at 16:33

3 Answers 3


This is what I ended up building:

Treehouse ladder

The main deck frame is resting on top of ground-contact pressure treated posts, with a notch sticking up on the inside to keep it from sliding off. So it is not relying on any fasteners to stay up. The post holes are filled with concrete to also minimize rotting effects.

The ladder is secured to the railing posts and does not touch the main support posts. I changed it to have a slope as suggested and also added a few more safety features. It turns out having the handholds at the top is important to help people get confidently started on the way down.

The ladder itself is made entirely from 2x6s, stained Western Red Cedar. Each rung and spacer is screwed in from the outside


For ground contact, besides the corrosion problem, there are general strength and stability issues potentially lurking.

Solutions include creating a concrete base, such as (from here): enter image description here Or pouring your own concrete base and incorporating post standoffs such as (from here) enter image description here

Another issue is for whom is the ladder intended? If it is teenagers, then your layout is probably adequate for all but the least athletic. Otherwise, the ladder should extend above the deck for hand holds. enter image description here

  • This answer doesn't go very far at all toward answering the (rather vague, I admit) question about ladder construction.
    – isherwood
    Jun 15, 2020 at 1:44
  • @isherwood: It wasn't meant to answer all aspects. Just some of the details I didn't see anyone else addressing.
    – wallyk
    Jun 15, 2020 at 3:58
  • 1
    Having the hand rails go above the deck is a good plan. Also it hadn't occurred to me that I could downgrade the pressure treatment rating by using a concrete base. I was already planning on doing the concrete. I'll have to see if my Home Depot carries that in the length I need.
    – RandomEngy
    Jun 15, 2020 at 21:32

Drill holes, use stainless steel pipe.

Buy a stainless steel ladder, such as from a swimming pool supplier.

Change materials where you come out of the ground and no longer need ground contact, or apply the ladder supports (of non-ground contact treated material) to the face of the ground-contact posts. I've seen laminated posts with a ground contact bottom and a transition to non-ground contact top, for one thing.

All the ones I grew up with were wooden rungs/steps, but your insurance company may disapprove these days.

  • 2
    The classic site-built construction ladder has rungs nailed to posts with supporting uprights also nailed to the posts. Google 'job built ladder'. You'll also see in the pictures that they are typically angled and the posts extend past the deck by about 3'. Jun 14, 2020 at 18:31
  • 1
    The "job built ladder" looks encouraging. Angling it out would also make the whole structure more stable. Though it will be more complicated to construct the "safety cage" like this. I am not sure how I'd fit the stainless steel pipe into the drilled holes. Lining up all of the rungs at once and placing the whole 4x6 seems like it would be tricky. Also the whole structure needs to be pressure-treated to some degree since it will be exposed to the elements. Though I suppose I could try and find western red cedar to attach and provide a buffer to attach rungs to.
    – RandomEngy
    Jun 14, 2020 at 20:47

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