My ladder is currently sitting horizontally across the garage wall. This ladder is both bulky and heavy, and it takes up real estate where a slatwall or utility hooks could go. I put the ladder there 30 years ago. Garage storage innovations passed me by. I set out to learn about my garage ladder storage options.
My ladder storage choices include:
- Store the ladder using strong, wide hooks installed into studs
- Store the ladder on a pulley that carries it to the garage ceiling
- Store the ladder on a fixed ceiling rack
- Hang the ladder on a slatwall hook
I need to know the ladder's weight, height, and width before choosing a storage method. I need to know that the weight capacity of the storage system can handle the ladder's weight.
How Can I Improve My Ladder Storage?
I have not been shopping for a ladder storage solution in so long, I was not even aware of the hooks specifically devoted to ladder storage.
It has been 30 years since I thought about how to store a ladder in my garage.
30 years ago, I bought “hooks,” but I do not remember there being such a thing as “ladder hooks.”
These are the ladder storage devices I picked. They open in new browser windows so you don't lose your place here:
- The Best Ladder Storage Ceiling Rack
- The Best Ladder Hooks
- The Best Ceiling Hoist Winch (for ladders and bicycles)
- The Best Garage Ladder
- Elegant Ways to Store Awkward Bicycles, Snowboards, Skis, Kayaks, Ladders and Tools
Should You Hang the Ladder on Wall Hook?
Wall hooks allow you to hang the ladder horizontally or vertically.
When you hang the ladder vertically, it might need only one hook. When you hang it horizontally, you should use at least two hooks to balance the load.
Horizontal storage takes up a lot of space. The ladder starts to look like a storage shelf, as you can see in the picture of my garage, above.
With two hooks, you are spreading the ladder's weight across more surface area.
Base the number of hooks on their weight capacity. If each hook can carry 30 lb., and you use two hooks, you can hang a 60 lb. ladder. The number of hooks will just depend on the ladder's weight and the hook capacity.
No matter what the hook manufacturer says, install the hooks in the wall stud, not just the drywall. Never depend on screws installed into just drywall to carry loads.
Different Types of “Ladder Hooks” for the Garage Wall
Ladder hooks are a cost-effective ladder storage solution.
There are three things to look for in a good ladder hook.
- The hook surface should be long enough to carry the depth of the ladder
- The surface should be coated to grip the ladder and avoid scratches
- The weight capacity should be larger than the ladder weight
A good ladder hook is deep enough to hold a solid portion of the ladder. You do not want the ladder dangling off the edge of the hook.
Most ladder hooks have load capacities from 25 to 100 lb. Use two or more hooks to increase the weight capacity of the entire set of hooks.
A good ladder hook is coated in rubber or neoprene. These add grip to hold the ladder in place. They are natural anti-scratch materials.
Good Ladder Hook Design (and What to Avoid)
I found some common complaints about different ladder hook materials and designs. I will show you these so you know what to avoid, and then I will show you some ideal ladder hooks, as well as two ceiling ladder storage solutions.
A Good Ladder Hook Has Depth, Grip, and Load Capacity
This article is about how to buy and use hooks. To see the best ladder hooks we recommend, see The Best Ladder Hooks
Let's use the ladder hook in the image above as an example. This hook is designed to carry the depth of a typical ladder and to prevent the ladder from slipping off the supports.
First, the arms are extra long, which gives the ladder more surface on which to rest. A typical ladder will overwhelm a short hook to the point that the ladder might slip off.
Your ladder hook should have an upturn at the far end. This hook cups the ladder against gravity, making it less likely to slip off the hook end.
A common complaint about some ladder hooks is that the rubber coating falls off or tears. So you should find a hook without complaints about the hook's rubber or neoprene coating.
This ladder hook has an effective back plate to take on some of the ladder's weight. It doubles as an installation template as it has notches to mark the wall where you want to install the hook.
Our example hook is 6.75 in. tall from its hardware to its first bend. The hook is 7 in. long where the ladder rests. The tips are 1″ high. It has a 30 lb. weight capacity.
The instructions for this particular hook state that it's OK to mount the hook into drywall. Why take a chance on drywall when you get get a much more secure installation through the stud?
This hook has a 30 lb. capacity. If you were to use this hook for a 40 lb. ladder, you'd add a second hook to give 60 lb. of capacity to the 40 lb. ladder.
Then again, if your ladder is close to or over 30 lb. though, you might do better with some of the bigger ladder storage options, below.
Extra Deep Hooks Carry Deeper Ladders
Update: This utility hook is no longer for sale, which is why we don't supply any links.
An extra-wide, extra-deep garage wall hook with a sturdy backplate will have a larger load capacity than the standard large hooks.
Art of Storage used to sell a utility hook with huge dimensions and a 50 lb. load capacity.
A 40 lb. ladder would require two 30-lb. hooks, but only one of these extra-large hooks.
It had a strong rubber coating that stood up to summer heat and winter cold.
While this hook was designed for hanging wheelbarrows and other bulky objects, it was an almost perfect ladder hook.
It would have been perfect if it were a bit deeper since a ladder would not sit completely within the surface area. If you can get a hook like this that is 6 or 7 inches deep, it's a superior option.
This is because when you're putting the ladder back on the wall, it's easier to align the ladder with one hook rather than two.
Rounded Hooks Are Not Ideal Ladder Hooks
Hooks with rounded heads are often designed to screw directly into the wall stud. They have screw-in ends with pointy tips to dig right into the wood. These are sometimes called “screw-in hooks.”
This type of hook will hang (and warp) a bicycle tire one day, and be too shallow for a ladder the next.
The problem is that the mouth is too small to grab something as deep as a ladder.
For example, look at the Little Giant 22-Foot Velocity ladder (which happens to be our favorite ladder, since it's lightweight, and transforms into multiple configurations. Learn more in our article: The Best Garage Ladder.
This Little Giant ladder weighs 39 lb, and so needs two 30 lb. capacity hooks.
Because the screw-in hook mouth is narrow, the ladder would sit on top of the mouth, rather than in it.
On the other hand, you could hook the 1.5-in. diameter rungs (the part you step on) into the hook mouths.
The only thing is, that would be awkward trying to puzzle a 39 lb. ladder so precisely when hanging it up.
Screw-in hooks are good power tools and wires, but not as good for hanging ladders.
Use screw-in hooks for hanging power equipment, furniture, tools, and hoses.
Another issue might be creating a screw hole for this hook. If the wood is hard, you are working against a lot of resistance to create the hook's screw hole. You can drill a pilot hole, though, to get a hook like this into the wall.
How to Hang a Ladder From the Garage Ceiling
Before you even think about ceiling ladder storage, you need to know:
- “Is this safe?”
- “How will I get the ladder up to and down from the ceiling hook?”
- “How much weight can I hang from my garage ceiling?” (our article How Much Weight Can I Hang From My Garage Ceiling? might help)
There are safe ways to hang ladders on the ceiling.
However, anything hanging from the ceiling presents a danger of falling on someone's head.
Pros and Cons of Ceiling Pulley Hoist Systems
It was fun to find ladder hoists, also known as “garage ceiling lifts” or “hoist and pulley” systems.
First, you hook or tie the ladder to the pulley.
With a manual pulley, you then pull on the rope. This pulls the ladder toward the ceiling. The mechanism is a lot like pulling the cord on a window blind. You pull, and it goes up. You let go, it goes down.
With an automated pulley, push the button instead of pulling or letting go.
The ladder goes up to the ceiling, and out of the way.
With a ceiling rack, you need a ladder to get your ladder off the ceiling. With a hoist, you do not need another ladder. The pulley does that work for you.
With any ceiling storage, it is crucial that you know how much your ceiling can hold. It is equally crucial that you install the hoist correctly. No amount of convenience is worth a ladder falling on your head.
Either you have to leave the spot under the ladder clear, or you need to be able to move whatever is under the ladder. When the ladder comes down, it will hit anything below it.
The ceiling hoist system holds the ladder more securely than the ceiling rack does. You literally tie the ladder to a pulley, whereas the ladder just rests on a rack.
Ladders can get heavy, so check how much weight you can hang from the ceiling before using ceiling storage.
The Store Your Board Pro Hi-Lift Ceiling Hoist
One of my favorite ladder pulleys is the Store Your Board “Pro” Hi-Lift ceiling hoist.
First, you wrap the straps around the ladder. Then you insert the pulley hooks into the straps. Each hook gets one strap to pull.
Pull the pulley rope to lift the ladder to the ceiling.
To bring the ladder down, unlock the rope and let it go up.
This will allow the ladder to come down.
Then you tie off the extra rope onto a wall hook.
The Partsam Automated Winch
While there are automated pulleys designed to lift ladders, I cannot recommend any of them here. They are not safe enough.
If you want an automated solution, you could use a Partsam winch to pull the ladder to the ceiling.
Partsam is one of the only brand winches I have found that appears to have a good safety reputation. I am going off the Amazon reviews to make this judgment.
Many automated pulleys and generic winches just do not seem safe enough to buy. The Partsam winch has a good reputation.
Pros and Cons of Ceiling Rack Storage
Ceiling racks are stationary holders that hang from the ceiling, over your head, or your car.
Whereas a pulley will carry the ladder up and down, a ceiling rack stays where it is. Therefore, you have to get the ladder up there on your own. Ceiling racks do not bring the ladder up and down as hoists do.
Always ask and answer the questions: “Is it safe to put a ladder on this ceiling rack?” and “How will I get the ladder up to and down from this ceiling rack?”
If you use a ceiling rack, you need access to the area under the rack to get the ladder down. You need a stepladder or another ladder to reach the one on the ceiling!
If you have a second ladder to get the first ladder, the question becomes, “Where do I store the second ladder? Might I suggest a wall hook, a slatwall system, or a hoist?
Ceiling racks excel at storing things that are long and bulky. The device design is simple. It is just two poles sticking out of the ceiling, and two horizontal poles hanging off them.
Anything you store on a ceiling rack sits on the horizontal poles. I have seen many DIY videos on how to make ceiling racks. The purchased racks save a lot of trouble. They are also lighter (about 15 lb.) compared to the weight of DIY pressure-treated wood.
The Store Your Board Ceiling Rack
One of the best ceiling racks was originally designed to store surfboards. The Store Your Board Double Ladder Ceiling Rack is one of the most popular ceiling racks out there. It carries up to 75 lb. per side or 150 lb. total. The center column height is adjustable between 10″ and 18″ tall. It installs into a ceiling joist.
You are still going to need a ladder to retrieve your ceiling rack contents. You can use a stepladder stored closer to the floor to reach the ceiling rack. Store the stepladder on the wall, and use it to access the bigger ladder in the ceiling rack.
You also want the ceiling rack out of the way of where people walk. This is true of all ceiling storage solutions!
The Pros and Cons of Garage Wall Storage Systems
Slatwalls (sometimes called “slat walls” and “slot walls”) are tracks and panels you install into the garage wall studs. They accept proprietary hooks that are easy to move and lock into place.
Once you have installed the tracks or panels, you can put the drill and screwdriver away. The hooks lock into the wall channels. You just unlock the hook, move it, and lock it again.
The most popular garage storage systems are (links open on this site): Gladiator, Proslat, and Rubbermaid FastTrack.
There are some other good brands out there, including GarageMate (technically a rail rather than a slatwall), StoreWall (great for outdoors but more expensive than standard offerings), diamondLife (pegboard company still getting its feet wet in the slatwall market), and Flow Wall, (an excellent garage wall storage system).
Gladiator and Proslat allow you to use wall panels to cover large areas, and tracks to cover smaller areas. Rubbermaid FastTrack is a track-only system.
Info! Do not buy wall storage system hooks unless you have the panels or tracks. The Gladiator, Proslat and Rubbermaid hooks are intended to be used with their respective wall panels and tracks. While you can install some of these hooks directly into the studs, it makes much more sense to get ladder hooks for wall studs, and proprietary wall system hooks for wall systems.
A slatwall garage organization system creates a clean, elegant interface for hooks, bins and baskets. All slatwall companies sell hooks that fit into their proprietary hardware.
Each slatwall hook comes with a load capacity. They are usually 25 lb. or 50 lb. maximums.
Hanging a ladder on a slatwall is similar to hanging it on the garage wall. Now you have hooks that are easier to move. You will use the hooks that go with the system you buy. Gladiator hooks for Gladiator panels; Rubbermaid hooks for Rubbermaid panels, etc.
As with hanging a ladder on the wall, horizontal ladders tend to turn into unintended storage racks. Use two or more hooks to hang the ladder horizontally.
I like the Gladiator Deep Hook, the Proslat Hose Hook, and the Rubbermaid FastTrack Ladder Hook.
My favorite is the Rubbermaid FastTrack Ladder Hook. The Rubbermaid hook is covered in soft rubber to protect the ladder. The top ladder step can rest on the hook's huge 13 in. depth. In addition, as with any rail and slatwall system, you can pick up the hook and move it with a simple unlock and lock.
Look at the Ladder hook image to see how deep this hook is. It has no problem gripping two ladders at once.
If you have (or are getting) a Proslat wall system, the 8-inch locking hooks work well with ladders. There are three hooks in each package.
The 8-inch hook has a large platform with a rubber coating to hold the ladder in place. Each hook holds 50 lb. Hang the ladder horizontally across two hooks, which will offer 100 lb. of support combined.
If you have (or are getting) a Gladiator GearTrack or GearWall storage system, get the Big Hook to store the ladder. The Gladiator GearTrack system comes in a set of two 4 ft. tracks per package. Gladiator offers a huge assortment of hooks and garage wall storage.
The Gladiator accessory kit comes with 18 hooks, six bins, and a 24-inch basket. The accessory kit hooks hold 35 lb. or 50 lb.
Like all Gladiator hooks, the Deep Hook locks into the GearTrack. No tools are required to move hooks around. The Big Hook holds 50 lb. and is outfitted with neoprene rubber tips to protect the ladder. They grip the ladder to keep it from moving.
You can tell by looking at it that the Deep Hook is not going to move at all when you put the ladder on it.
The Deep Hook surface is 11 inches deep, which is a secure depth to hang a ladder.
People Also Ask
Can I store a ladder outside? The sun's UV rays will weaken the fiberglass and plastic on your ladder. Outdoor ladders are also way too much of an invitation to be robbed. Do not store a ladder outside without considering the alternatives.
How do I choose the right ladder for the job? There is an entire association devoted to this question. Visit the American Ladder Institute's “Ladders 101: Choosing the Right Ladder.”