Studies, kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms can benefit from lofty storage. The problem is that no matter how frequently you use those items, you’ll still need a way to get to them. And the library ladder is just the thing to get you there. But there’s a lot to consider when adding one of these elegant pieces to your home. Here’s what you’ll want to know about cost, structural support and style.
Before proceeding with a library ladder project, make sure your space meets these four requirements.
1. Determine if there’s adequate support at the location you want to install the rail. If not, you’ll need to add it. Keep in mind that the rail needs to support not only itself and the ladder, but the person standing on it and the torque created by that person’s movement. Klint Peacock of Bartels Doors, who represents MWE brand ladders, says that if you’re mounting onto wood cabinetry, as shown here, you don’t need additional support because the unit itself is already solid wood.
However, if the rail is to be mounted directly to a wall surface, extra support will likely need to be built into the wall if it’s not concrete. Peacock explains that when someone is sliding the ladder or even climbing on it, there is no force pulling down on the rail or the mounts (the floor receives the force). The problem arises with the force created when the ladder is pulled outward. While the ladder mounts are extremely load bearing, they need to be mounted to something solid.
2. The floor surface must be completely level. If you have an older house with floors that have a charming slope to them, a library ladder won’t work for you. Hard-surface floors, such as hardwood and tile, are ideal. Just make sure the tile or stone is level and doesn’t have a pronounced dimension variance, like in the clefts of slate. Otherwise, the ladder may get caught on high points. Carpet isn’t recommended either unless it is a level loop with a very low pile.
3. You must have a minimum clearance space from the center of the track to the ceiling, which is needed for installation. Some manufacturers require a 7-inch clearance, but this dimension could vary with others, so it’s prudent to verify first.
4. Make sure you meet the weight requirements of the ladder you’re interested in. For example, MWE’s ladders have a 265-pound load capacity.
Choosing a Style
Library ladders come in three general configurations, determined by the use and surrounding architectural elements.
Straight. The straight style is pretty self-explanatory. It’s a straight up-and-down ladder that is meant to go against a vertical wall or cabinetry, as seen in this study.
Aim High: What to Know About Adding a Library Ladder