Space Requirements for a Rolling Library Ladder

May 28th 2024

One of the most important things you need to know before buying your Putnam Rolling Ladder is if you have enough space. Let’s look at typical clearances, angle of the ladders, and mounting requirements. The floor surface is another important consideration, and can be a determining factor for whether or not a rolling library ladder will work for you.

How Much Clearance Does a Library Ladder Need?

Keep in mind that when you install your Putnam Rolling Ladder, you’ll need seven inches (7”) of clearance between the track centerline and the ceiling, crown molding, or any other overhangs. Planning for this clearance guarantees that your ladder won’t hit the ceiling or other overhangs when it’s in the stored position, and gives you the room to lift your ladder off the track (if you’re going with a hook/single roller ladder).

You’ll also ideally want to figure on 6” of vertical space to mount your track and support brackets. 3” is needed to clear above cabinet doors and other obstructions when your ladder is in the climbing position, so centering your track on that 6” space will give your ladder track a symmetrical, intentional look. An exception to that is if you’re mounting your support brackets along a bookshelf or open shelving- a horizontal bracket may allow you to get away with as little as 1-¼” instead of 6”. 

What Is the Angle of a Rolling Library Ladder?

The standard climbing position is about 12° from the wall. Because our rolling ladders can be adjusted from a “climbing” to a “stored” position, the ladder’s upper fixtures mount straight to the track. In other words, you don’t have to calculate the ladder’s angle since a Putnam rolling ladder will automatically sit at the right angle when you pull it into the climbing position.

How Tall Should a Rolling Ladder Be?

our Putnam Rolling Ladder should be tall enough to help you safely reach the height you need. Our recommendation is to plan your track height no farther than 1-½ feet from the highest point you will need to reach- that will be about how far you can comfortably reach from the 3rd or 4th step from the top of the ladder. Remember that 7” clearance requirement above the track centerline to avoid having the ladder come in contact with the ceiling, molding, or other objects!

The Classic No. 1 and Quiet Glide ladders can be made anywhere from 5 feet to 14 feet long (depending on wood species). With our Meadow Lane line, you can choose between a 92” or 107” ladder. The more contemporary ALTA rolling ladder is custom made to track heights between 83.75" – 105.5". Custom heights are available for the Classic No 1. and the Quiet Glide lines in addition to the ALTA ladder lines—just contact us for a quote and lead time.

Can a Rolling Ladder Roll on Carpet?

The short answer is yes, a rolling library ladder can roll on carpet—the only instance where a ladder may have difficulty is on something like shag or extremely plush carpet. Our rolling ladder wheels are designed to perform on hard, mostly-level surfaces like wood, LVP, or tile, but should operate just fine on standard carpets or rugs as well.

Installing a Rolling Library Ladder: Support Considerations

When you’re sizing up your space for a rolling ladder, there are other important considerations in addition to height and the floor surface. Here’s a short checklist to make sure your space will work:

  • Wherever you intend to mount the ladder track, there must be adequate structural support. The wall, railing, ceiling, or cabinets that hold the ladder must be sturdy enough for the ladder’s weight and the weight of the people who will be using it. If there’s not enough support, you’ll have to add it before you put up your rolling ladder.
  • Drywall surfaces are not strong enough for a rolling ladder system. You will need a solid wood surface to mount your track to. Softwood, hardwood, and plywood are all sufficient options. MDF, HDF, or OSB are not acceptable wood surfaces for mounting your track.

If you need more help sussing out how to add a rolling library ladder to your space, book a call with one of our ladder experts. We’re here to help you figure out exactly what you need for the space you have. We can also answer any other questions about ladder styles and hardware finishes.