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10 Super Useful Ladder Hacks for Homeowners

These brilliant tips will help you work safer and smarter with your ladders.

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Family Handyman

Add More Traction

I use my multi-position ladder for repairs during Montana winters, and I used to have trouble getting good footing. My solution was to apply anti-slip tape to the rungs. Its heavy-duty grit really helps grip my boots. I cleaned the rungs and then just cut the tape to size with a utility knife and straightedge. Works like a charm! — Henry Reuter

Find more home safety tips from our editors right here!

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bolt ladder hack

Bolt Hook

I drill a hole and attach a bolt at the top of my ladders. This makes a great spot to hang an extension cord, tool belt, small bucket, etc. — Mark Ammons

Be sure to use a long bolt and secure it with washers so that a large portion of it sticks out from the top of the ladder, as shown in the photo. Also, some ladders come with premade holes in the top, so you may be able to simply find a bolt that fits and can be secured with washers rather than having to drill another hole. Learn how to build an ingenious grab and go cord rack right here. 

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dryFamily Handyman

Hang ‘Em Out to Dry Ladder Drying Rack

Painting objects like louvered shutters can be a real problem. It’s much easier to get all the areas painted by first making a hanging paint and drying rack. Take two step-ladders and a long 2×4. Then hook a metal coat hanger through one of the louvers of the shutter and slip the hanger over the 2×4. Now you can paint all sides and edges without having to handle the shutter.

Click here for 10 more painting tips that will help your next remodel go smoothly.

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Family Handyman

Ladder Caddy

When I was hanging suspended grid for ceiling tiles, I was constantly switching between two drills—one to drill pilot holes, the other to drive screws. Tired of changing back and forth and running up and down the ladder, I thought there must be a better way. I found a scrap of 3/4-in. plywood (10 in. x 24 in.) and cut an opening in it to fit over the stepladder (7 in. x 14 in.) and cutouts to hold my drill and my driver. I wedged a scrap piece of 2×4 between the ladder top and the holder to stabilize it when one tool was in use. This seat-of-the-pants solution saved me a lot of time and labor. I now use it for a variety of ladder-related tasks. — Ron Brewer

Want another type of caddy? Check out this beer caddy made out of reclaimed barn wood!

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magnet on ladder

Magnet Extra Hand

I attach a magnet to the top of all of my ladders to hold nuts, bolts, nails, screws and other metal fasteners while I work. It’s like having an extra hand!

It’s best to use a round base magnet or one that is made with a hole in the center for easy attachment to your ladder. Then all you need to do is drill a hole and use a bolt and nut to hold the magnet securely in place. These magnets are also strong enough to hold small metal tools such as a handheld screwdriver. — Mark Ammons

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Family Handyman

How to Create this Ladder Topper

I often work overhead on a ladder, and my heavy tool belt takes a toll on my back and legs. Now instead of wearing it, I cinch it around the top of my ladder, which keeps all my tools right where I need them. — Tom Boward

See how our editors think you should organize your tool belt here.

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Family Handyman


The older I get, the heavier my extension ladder gets. Instead of lugging it around, I just strap it to my wheelbarrow! A rubber mat on the front lip of the wheelbarrow and a ratcheting cargo strap around the handles keep it from sliding as I wheel the ladder around the yard. — Ken Apacki. Click here to see 11 exceptional wheel barrows that do everything.

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The Family Handyman

Stepladder Outboard Support

Hey, our ladders just got a lot more useful, thanks to this stand-up tip from reader Robert Maho. When sawing longer boards with a miter saw, set a folding ladder beside the saw and clamp a narrow board to the ladder with a pair of C-clamps so the board lies level on the saw table. Now you can saw sharp, accurate miters safely on those long railings without employing a second pair of hands. Check out 22 more Handy Hints that will help you make the most out of you miter saw.

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The Family Handyman

Store Sheet Goods on a Ladder

Got a decade’s worth of leftover pieces of plywood, drywall and plastic laminate and spare boards? Here’s how to round them up and protect them from moisture, dirt and dings. If you have an old extension ladder lying around, take the sections apart and lay one on the floor near a wall to use as a sheet goods rack. The rail will keep stuff from sliding off. It’ll hold everything high and dry off the floor and ready to sort when that next project comes along. — Grant Caulder

Don’t want to a waste a ladder? Check out this reader’s plywood storage project.

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Ladder Padding pool noodleFamily Handyman

Ladder Padding

I spend a lot of time on my ladder, and leaning against the rungs all day was taking a toll on my shins and thighs. Then I got smart and slit pieces of my kids’ pool noodles lengthwise and wrapped them around the front of the rungs. Instant relief! The cushions are easy to move as you work. Just make sure you never stand on the pool noodles, and always place them higher than you’ll step since they can create an uneven step or fall off if you step on them. – Dave Switzer. See 25 more pool noodle hacks by clicking here.