Pantry Ladder Ideas


Get to that top shelf with ease using a pantry or kitchen rolling ladder. More commonly known as "library ladders" - named for ladders used in libraries for the assistance of reaching tall bookshelves - they have become a more frequent feature in new homes with taller ceilings.

There are many details and planning that goes into choosing and installing a kitchen library ladder in your home. Be sure to check out "Adding a Library Ladder to Your Home" to learn more about the planning, hardware, and safety aspects to consider before installing a home rolling ladder system.

These pages are full of inspiration and ideas to indulge your pantry fancy. Helpful comments have been added that point out important features to think about for your unique pantry, kitchen, or home project.

Curved railings are the ultimate luxury when using a library ladder. The ladder bottom will need to be picked up from the floor slightly when moving around the curve (watch this maneuver at the 2:39 mark in the video).

I wonder if this library ladder has a curved railing on the other end? If not, the owner will have to pick up an move it to the opposite side when needed. That inconvenience will have to be factored in when planning for a kitchen library ladder in your home.

This library ladder perfectly matches the stain of the shelves. Pantry ladders can be purchased in a range of finishes, but they can also be purchased unfinished so the homeowner can have the ladder stained to match the interior finishes in the room where it will be used.

A natural wood finish was chosen for this kitchen pantry ladder.

It's true, not all "library ladders" have wheels. In this sleek and modern design, the ladder may have been custom made, maybe the owner didn't much care for wheels. Safety is a significant part of owning a library ladder, it's difficult to see from this picture if the ladder is attached at the top and how stable the base of the ladder is for the user. Library ladder wheels have mechanisms to prevent the ladder from moving. Although the narrow rungs add to the minimalist design, from a safety standpoint, they could be improved to be wider to offer more stability for the user.

This is a fairly small pantry to be using a pantry ladder. Likely, it is not rolling. We can't see the attachment mechanism at the top, if there is one. In the small footprint, the ladder would have to be picked up and moved to the adjacent shelves for use. With planning, infrequently used items would only be placed on the high shelves. The ladder rungs provide more surface area than the previous ladder.

A white pantry ladder for your white pantry space.

The materials of this rolling library ladder are obviously a custom install. The ladder railings have been installed in three separate sections for access in this space; the ladder will have to be picked up and moved to use.

A classic install, likely a Putnam or Cotterman traditional library ladder.

Note the two sections of railing. One would have been preferred, but the choice could have been a limitation of stock railing sizes, or limited options in attaching the rail to the shelving unit.

This more industrial version of a rolling library ladder provides additional safety to the user in form of comfortable handrails

Library ladder hardware comes in different finishes. Ideally, the railing track should match the "top hardware" on the ladder itself and ladder base wheel hardware (it's basically a set). The pantry owner has chosen a brass finish to compliment the brass hardware pulls of the cabinet doors.

Note the position of the side base wheels of the ladder. The wheels can add an additional 6" of space to each side of a ladder, so plan on that. Some companies produce ladders that are "weight activated" meaning that the wheels lock as soon as someone steps on the ladder.

If your space allows, go for a curved railing. No need to hassle with picking up and setting down a ladder on separate rail sections. In this video, the presenter demonstrates how the ladder bottom needs to be picked up from the floor slightly when moving around the curve (watch this maneuver at the 2:39 mark in the video).

A traditional rolling library ladder installation. Note that it is only installed for one part of the room, but objects can be reached on the adjoining shelves if close enough. Best practice is to never reach for items that are beyond your reach to prevent accidental falls.

Even small pantries can have library ladders!

This pantry is definitely in need of a rolling library ladder! The curved railing will make the space a joy to use, but reaching the top shelves will be a little dangerous. Library ladders can be purchased or built in custom sizes; a taller ladder would have been better in this space. Refer to height placements on this page.

About the author 

Renee Matt

Renee is a former kitchen designer, home remodeling enthusiast (having lived through several DIY projects), and an Iowa farmwife. Renee is passionate about preparedness, garden skills, and knowing where her food comes from. Years of being a stay-at-home mom and supporting the family farm with hearty meals has been key to Renee's pantry readiness. She uses her professional IT background and expertise to bring the Everything Pantry website to life.

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