I'd like to build a rolling ladder for my tall office closet using a kit. However, the shelving is metal ClosetMaid/Elfa-style and can't support a rod for the ladder to slide along.

My thought is to instead use a closet rod with supports on the left and right walls. Can this be feasible and safe? What other options might I have?

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  • First, I love that picture. My initial reaction is that you wouldn't want to use one of the store-bought closet rod holders on the side. You would probably want to make your own, stronger supports.
    – JPhi1618
    Nov 13, 2015 at 22:06
  • A while ago I noticed that rockler has some rolling library ladder kits you might want to look into. Keep in mind that most ladders like this aren't designed to go straight up and down. There's about a 12 degree lean to them. Make sure you have the room for the ladder in front of your organizers. Nov 13, 2015 at 23:32
  • @OrganicLawnDIY Yes, Rockler happens to be local to me. However, I had called them and their hardware is designed to be mounted on the face of shelves, which is what prompted this question about mounting the bar on the side walls. Nov 15, 2015 at 23:10

3 Answers 3


I'd put ledgers on the walls to the left and right of the shelves. By this I mean a board running horizontally the entire length of the wall, screwed in at the studs. This will give you something with some strength and stability to attach to.

You could run a steel pipe across from ledger to ledger, attached to the ledgers with floor flanges. I can say I have used 1" pipe and floor flanges this way for chinup bars many times and they held up well.

The weak point of the pipe is the threaded part, if it shears off it will be at the threads near the floor flange. If you want to be safe, run a 1" dowel inside the pipe. Even if the metal cracks, it's not going anywhere.

If the pipe is not sufficient, you could run a board across from ledger to ledger, just like a joist - you might even use joist hangers to fasten it to the ledgers. That would give you the surface the ready made rolling ladder kits want. Joist hangers are made to carry weight vertically, not horizontally, but I think they'd be strong enough for this purpose. If you want something stronger in the horizontal direction, that's easy enough to work out.


Kits are available for constructing sliding ladders; I plan to set ip one or two in my library. Try a good woodworking supply house. Don't expect it to be cheap, but a few hundred should do it.

  • Yes, I know about these. The kits assume you are supporting the rod from the shelf, whereas I need to support from the sides. That is the focus of my question. Nov 15, 2015 at 23:12
  • The one I've seen could be adapted easily to this use.
    – keshlam
    Nov 16, 2015 at 1:36
  • Great. The question is basically all about the adaptation, so please explain! Dec 18, 2015 at 17:37
  • You should be able to support it the same ways you would support a clothes rod...
    – keshlam
    Dec 19, 2015 at 0:18

It looks like your closet is around 6' across and perhaps 12' tall. With that narrow a space, how about having the ladder lean diagonally across the front of the shelves (e.g. top-left to bottom-right in your picture)? You could have a hanger or ledger board across the wall to the left of the shelves, with the top of the ladder hooked over the board and running down and right, sloped to the 12 degrees cited by @OrganicLawnDIY. If necessary, you could put a second board across the wall to the right of the shelves so you could run the ladder the other way. Bonus points for putting a third board higher up so that you could hang the ladder vertically from when not in use.

  • Yes, the dimensions are right. I really wanted a sliding ladder so I could have very easy access to my crap. I want a sliding one so I can move it back and forth out of the way from what I need. Nov 15, 2015 at 23:11
  • True, but a sliding ladder will always be diagonally across your closet, taking up space; it may make it tougher to reach mid-level shelves because you're at a distance; and it may be more complicated than a hanging ladder. Nov 15, 2015 at 23:25
  • Not at all worried about using up the space, that's why I want to do this. It's actually a great use of "dead space" in the closet. I can slide it left or right to get at anything on middle shelves. However, I might like your idea if applied to a sliding ladder; as I was planning to put pegboard floor to ceiling along the left-hand wall. I bet I could reach most of the shelving from a traditionally mounted sliding ladder running along that left wall. Nov 15, 2015 at 23:29

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