How to Store an Extension Ladder in a Garage
Author: Rick Worst | Editor: Omar Alonso
Review & Research: Jen Worst & Chris Miller
We put a lot of thought into having the right tools for the jobs we do around the house, and in to having high-quality stuff for our yards, our garage, and not to mention inside the home (quality appliances, comfortable furniture, and so on).
Having them is one thing, and storing them, especially big objects like an extension ladder, is another.
The reason I mention these is to highlight how certain other things get ignored in the home, even if they have a huge practical benefit to our lives.
How to store an extension ladder in the garage probably isn’t that high up on your list, but the perfect ladder storage can make a big difference…
When the things you need to access are within easy reach to grab when you need to use them, that’s one step less resistance when it’s time to hop on a ladder and change a burnt out bulb, or get some quick touch-up painting done, or whatever else you might need to do.
When your ladder is buried in the corner under boxes and bikes and a huge labyrinth of stuff, you’re so much more likely to keep those little tasks on your to-do instead of just getting them done.
Not only that, but a stray ladder in the garage can be a hazard for tripping, and frankly it just gets in the way, especially depending on the types of ladders we're talking about.
So, I’ve put together some strategies for keeping your extension ladder out of the way so that you can have an easier time accessing everything in your garage, reducing resistance to getting small jobs done, and generally just having more room for the rest of your stuff.
How are Ladders Supposed to be Stored?
There are a number of different ways to store a ladder, using pre-made solutions or DIY alternatives. I want to look at a number of different options here because we don’t all have the same space or opportunities in our garage to store ladders.
What works for one person might not work for the next person, especially depending on the types of garages we have. So, let’s go over some strategies on how to store ladders in a garage…
Ladder Storage Hooks
This is an easy option. Ladder hooks can be screwed into the ceiling of your garage or into the walls. Some of them are simply hooks with the screw built-in to one end, and others require separate screws.
Wall hooks for vertical storage: There are ladder hooks that screw into your garage wall (assuming it’s got wood beams), that can be oriented to store your ladder vertically.
You would use 1 hook, or 2 hooks that are placed a few inches apart, depending on the shape of the hook (some of them are ‘wider’ like the one pictured above so you only need one to keep the ladder straight, whereas with “normal” hooks, you’ll need two of them, placed a few inches apart).
If you want your ladder to be stored in its smallest state (in other words, not extended), this is a good option.
These are usually L shaped, or at least very close to L shaped. Sometimes they’ll have a little extra corner-piece added to keep the ladder more securely in place.
Wall hooks for horizontal storage: These are essentially the same as the aforementioned style, the main difference is that you’ll place them further apart.
Both hooks don’t necessarily have to be level, your ladder can be hanging on an angle if you’d like. Both types of wall hooks can be mounted on the inside of the garage, or on the outside.
It comes down to how secure your yard is, because if you have it mounted outside, it’s entirely possible that somebody wandering by decides to help themselves. It’s unfortunate, but it’s something to keep in mind.
Overhead hooks for ladder storage: Overhead hooks are generally U shaped. Imagine a U turned sideways. They’re mounted on the ceiling of the garage.
Now, if you’re tall enough to reach them, or you don’t mind keeping a stool or a step-ladder nearby, this option does take advantage of space that would otherwise be unused better than any other methods of storage for ladders in a garage.
However, for shorter people, it can feel counterproductive to need something to stand on just to reach your ladder.
The way these work is you hang the extension ladder by the fly section and base section (as they're together when the ladder is collapsed). If you aren't sure what those are, you can learn about the parts of a ladder with our diagram and article there.
Which Type of Ladder Hooks Are Best?
Choosing between the aforementioned styles of hooks to hang ladders in garage areas really comes down to how large your garage is, how much room you have on the walls versus the ceiling, and how easily-accessible you want your ladder to be.
If you have room behind the normal entrance door to your garage (not the “garage door”), this can be a good place to mount a ladder vertically.
It’s space that is otherwise unused, it’s totally out of the way but it’s still super accessible when you need to grab it quickly without having to make your way through any other potential mess or unruliness in the garage.
Wall-mounting is a great option, either vertical or horizontal, and again it comes down to what your garage is like and how you intend to use the space. A ladder mounted horizontally along the wall takes up a decent amount of prime real-estate.
But this only matters if you’re planning to mount tools there or use it for other things. Otherwise, it’s a convenient place to keep your ladder as long as you don’t let clutter pile up in front of it.
If you do think you’ll end up with clutter or things in front of where you have the ladder mounted, consider mounting it vertically instead, so that the area in front of the ladder needs a smaller footprint.
Ceiling mounting isn’t ideal in a smaller garage that has an electric door, there’s just too much stuff in the way and not a lot of prime roof real estate, plus the chances go up of unplugging your door or knocking the opener and ruining the alignment when taking down or putting back up your ladder.
DIY Overhead Garage Storage
Overhead garage storage can be used for more than just ladders. The most practical approach is using hooks to hang things, but that brings with it a set of considerations:
How old is the wood on your garage roof, and how sturdy are the beams? If you’re hanging screw-hooks with older wood that’s prone to rot, this is a recipe for disaster.
Even with new or good quality wood in great condition, you need to make sure that your hooks can easily support the weight of whatever you’re hanging.
Ideally, don’t hang things that are heavy. If you must do so, make sure they’re well-within the range of what your hanging-medium can support. Also consider the height.
You probably have a standard garage size but you should try to give it a basic measurement so you know you won't be hitting your head on anything hanging.
If you can’t reach the ladder or whatever else you’re storing from the hooks, it’s possible to attach a 2x4 of the necessary length from the garage ceiling, and then attach the hooks to those boards.
This can get a bit squirrely, you need to make sure the board is properly affixed to the ceiling, but if you aren’t storing anything too heavy and you make sure everything is secure, it gets the job done and saves you from having to climb up onto a stool just to reach your ladder, while keeping it perfectly out of the way.
Another option for overhead storage that incorporates ladder storage as described above by having a board drop down from the roof, would be to have multiple boards that hang down, and to encase them, creating a separate storage area that hangs from the garage ceiling.
Don't try this, of course, unless you have one of the drop ceiling alternatives. Drop ceilings can not bear the weight of anything more than the light tiles and lights they hold.
This is a much more involved project than hanging a hook, and once again be mindful of building codes and ensuring that everything is stable and secure and be careful about how much weight you have hanging.
If you’re mindful and prepared for all of that, this is a really good option. You can store rakes and other yard doors, pipes, boards, anything that’s long and generally difficult to store can slide right into your little ceiling cubby-hole area.
Final Thoughts On Storing an Extension Ladder In a Garage
Hopefully, you’re leaving here today with some new ideas to try out instead of just asking "how do you store long ladders?", or at least something to spark inspiration for you to come up with your own custom DIY ladder storage solution.
There’s a lot more to keep in mind in regards to how to store ladders than simply thinking how to store ladders on the wall.
Extension ladders and regular ladders are stored in very similar ways. There are some types of ladders that fold, so make sure they’re locked securely if you’re hanging them from the ceiling because you don’t want them to fold while they’re up there and fall down onto your car.
With extension ladders, you can store them when they’re extended or when they’re shorter. If you plan on extending it for storage, vertical will probably work better. If you’d like to keep it extended, then horizontal will give you more room for that.
When it comes to ceiling storage, it’ll depend on how much room you have. Obviously, storage a ladder in its non-extended state will take up less room, but it could also just be adding extra steps if you always use it extended.