Asked on Sep 25, 2013

I have an antique rolling ladder...

Christina D
by Christina D
And I want to save it from the burn pile!
It is oak, and in very good condition. There is an anti-slip sticker of some sort on each tread. It still has the original rolling hardware.
I do not want to use it as a rolling ladder, however, I would like to use it somehow, and I am willing to saw it shorter. It's 140" tall by 14" wide.
Does anyone have any fabulous ideas? I have many tools and I am very handy! Thanks so much!
ETA: this is a circa 1940-1950's telephone ladder with hand-rail and top brake. (I did some research after I posted the question.. just like me putting the cart before the horse!)
  47 answers
  • Z Z on Sep 25, 2013
    Wow! What an awesome find Christina. I'd hang it as a shelf (using decorative brackets) in a laundry room with the hand rail down and in front to use as a clothing rod. You could attach a piece of wood across the top adding extra storage.
  • Nancy Toy Nancy Toy on Sep 25, 2013
    I was thinking the same but as a coat rack and use the top for gloves hats etc .You could cut it and th e part without the hand rail use as a shelf . On it's side it could also hold books.
  • Gail Salminen Gail Salminen on Sep 25, 2013
    @Christina D there are quite a few ideas on this site, I listed a few below. You could also suspend this outside on the deck or in a gazebo and put twinkle lights on it for an evening fairy effect, also hang some plants from it. Could be used in a garage or workshop to hang tools and cords on. It looks like a ladder worthy of saving.
  • GranArt GranArt on Sep 25, 2013
    lean it up against the house and sit or hang plants on it. Maybe hang a few bird houses off the sides further up the ladder. That would look so cool!
  • Tamela Bowie Interiors Tamela Bowie Interiors on Sep 25, 2013
    I would make it shorter and suspend it from the ceiling in your kitchen to be used as a pot-rack. Get some "s" hooks and hang them on the rungs to hold your pots.
  • Donna Gill Donna Gill on Sep 25, 2013
    I used on old ladder to make a divided herb garden.
  • Christina D Christina D on Sep 26, 2013
    Thanks everyone! My husband is ready to toss it, but he knows I can make stuff from what he considers to be throwaway items, so I can hold him off... for now. hahaaa! I will post what I finally do with it.. you have all given me so much to think about! Thank you again for all the suggestions!
    • Wayne Kuykendall Wayne Kuykendall on Jul 03, 2019

      Would you sell it? I need one for a store that I’m restoring and need one badly. My number is 256-777-4524 thx Wayne

  • Carrie Carrie on Sep 27, 2013
    @Christina D I would hang it in my living room, railing on the bottom with a couple of quilts hanging from it. I would put family photos in between each rung. What a beautiful piece!
  • Kat Tellez Kat Tellez on Sep 27, 2013
    I'd take off the rollers and then just lean it up against a wall and use it as a bookshelf. I think it would look fantastic!
  • Derek George Derek George on Sep 27, 2013
    tossing it is crazy , i am sure it is worth a small fortune , antique stores , and big city designerss love that stuff , for loft apartments and so forth , never toss old antiques
  • Starla Swanson Starla Swanson on Sep 27, 2013
    Wonderful place to display antique linens, quilts, crochet work like lace tablecloths. For large pieces, lay a piece of muslin on the step so the quilt or linen does not touch the wood. It can quickly destroy the threads of a cherished piece. So happy you saved it. It's a piece of history!
  • Leona G Leona G on Sep 27, 2013
    This was originally used in telephone company buildings. People have used the hand rails as rails on the side of their trucks and the ladder as plant shelves, nick knack shelves as book shelves and as additional shelving in lined closets. Good luck
  • Dorothy Dorothy on Sep 27, 2013
    well if u have a 2 story house -- make a good fire escape ---- u should find out more about it --- might be worth money to sell to place that have good use of it !!
  • Buster Evans Buster Evans on Sep 27, 2013
    I was think along the same lines as Carrie about Photo's between the rung spaces I was thinking of using it as a entry hall piece... didnt think about the quilts EXCELLENT IDEA.. But dont cut it AT ALL!! Its already worth $ as is and that will only increase as time goes on.. photos and books or just photos change em out from time to time... But dont change the Ladder at all leave it as is natural aged and intact!.
  • Auntie Lin Auntie Lin on Sep 27, 2013
    I had an old ladder that was not as nice as yours but it was my grandfathers so I wanted to do SOMETHiNg with it. we turned it into a beautifu garden piece with crawling Concord grapes!!! my Bumpa would have loved it.
  • Rosi McCoy Rosi McCoy on Sep 27, 2013
    Whatever you do, do not let him burn or throw it away!! That would be such a waste and just a crime. You know there is someone out there who would love the chance to make a treasure out of it if you don't............but my money is on you. There are some GREAT ideas here. Can't wait to see what you end up making out of this!!!!
  • Gloria Duy Gloria Duy on Sep 27, 2013
    I have an old ladder that I use as a quilt rack. But I recently saw a picture of the ladder/quilt rack idea used as a headboard!
  • Rose S Rose S on Sep 27, 2013
    if you want to shorten it, you could make a quilt rack for your den and a towel rack for your bathroom. :-)
  • Babby Blair Babby Blair on Sep 27, 2013
    I saw where someone hung it on the side of their garden shed and hung stuff from it and put flowers in it.
  • Annette Annette on Sep 27, 2013
    We have made two arbors out of old ladders. One in for our grapes and the other has trumpet vines for the humming birds.
  • Jean DeSavage Jean DeSavage on Sep 27, 2013
    You could always use the two parts and make a teepee to grow your beans/peas up it, or you put flowering vines on it. If you hung it horizontally in your garage, you could hang things from the rungs of the ladder, like hoses for the winter, etc., hang bikes from it, all sorts of things.
  • Alexandra Crume Alexandra Crume on Sep 27, 2013
    These old ladders make great pot racks--cut to the size you need and hang!
  • Patricia Cleveland Patricia Cleveland on Sep 27, 2013
    Christina D: please don't cut it - it's an antique! Look for a way to use it as is or mention it to an antique dealer.
  • Elaine Elaine on Sep 28, 2013
    I would hang it sideways and use it to display books and etc. Do NOT CUT IT!
  • Linda Linda on Sep 28, 2013
    Hang from the ceiling. Great piece for hanging pots, baskets or drying flowers and herbs. Use S rings to hang the items from the ladder. Also would great with grape vine draped through the ladder rungs. Good luck.
  • Judy Judy on Sep 28, 2013
    I wouldn't cut it, either...It's beautiful! Hanging it sideways would make a very unique shelf or placing it near the floor on a long wall with old baskets for storage. The size would pose a problem in my house, but I could see it on my bedroom wall near the ceiling with old baskets to hide seldom used items.
  • Reposhture Studio - Kim Reposhture Studio - Kim on Sep 28, 2013
    DO.NOT.CUT.IT!!!! Such a cool piece of history it would be a shame to cut it up. Why not use it as a pergola by attaching it to an outdoor wall with brackets? It would look beautiful with some red honeysuckle and the smell would be awesome.
    • Z Z on Sep 28, 2013
      @Reposhture Studio - Kim I agree with not cutting it, but putting it outside in the elements could also ruin it, wouldn't you think?
  • 229965 229965 on Sep 28, 2013
    I think it is beautiful and it would make a neat room divider..hang on side from ceiling with hooks like a transom window over a door. Like between a dining room and den. I like the old treads on it...the worn look. Must be from some old library study ?
  • Reposhture Studio - Kim Reposhture Studio - Kim on Sep 28, 2013
    If you seal it with a marine grade poly it will be fine.
    • See 2 previous
    • Z Z on Sep 30, 2013
      Thank you @Reposhture Studio - Kim.
  • Peggy Beckerdite Peggy Beckerdite on Sep 28, 2013
    I would spray it with outdoor sealant and marine polyurethane. Then I would make a pergola and plant jasmine or honeysuckle or morning glory or some climing vine. It is so neat. Don't cut it.
  • Patti Nicholas Patti Nicholas on Sep 28, 2013
    Don't Cut it!!!! I would hang it from the ceiling and use it for the kitchen or even in the laundry room for hanging clothes to dry, just hook the hangers on the rungs. don't think I'd put it outside unless you sealed it so that no more weather damage happened. This is a wonderful piece of history and I'd want it on display somewhere as is. Maybe high on a wall even.
  • Colleen Schake Colleen Schake on Sep 30, 2013
    I want it in my barn! I'd use it to get to the so called loft we started to create~
  • Lori Lori on Sep 30, 2013
    DON'T CUT!! It's too beautiful to damage. I envy you having such a beautiful antique. If it were mine I would hang it in the garage and use it to display my late father-in-law's antique tools from it. I would not paint it either as that would take from the aged beauty. Enjoy your gorgeous ladder!
  • Keith Keith on Sep 30, 2013
    At almost 14' long, it offers quite a challenge to use. Putting it outside will eventually spell its doom.. I'd be tempted to cut it in half, I'd make a table with half (adding legs and a glass top) and then mount the other half above it for shelving.
  • Kelly S Kelly S on Sep 30, 2013
    I would hang it horizontally, hardware and all, and use it for a display shelf. I have a vaulted ceiling and would love something like that vertically for a display/book shelf.
  • Christina D Christina D on Sep 30, 2013
    I love these suggestions! Here is what I am working with inside my home: -9 ft ceilings in a 1952 house, therefore no room for a pot-rack (although I would LOVE to be able to do this) -no laundry room, just a basement with pretty low ceilings. -no deck, I have a screened in back porch with no space to hang something of this size. -not much available wall-space, due to many doors and window openings. I have called a local architectural salvage business and they stated they *may* be interested in it, but that was months ago, and I have not heard back. I saw one of these on eBay or Etsy (can't remember which) for sale for $600-something and was shocked at the value these still hold! The company that makes these (Putnam in NYC) buys them back, but their email isn't working! It bounced back. I may contact an antique store to see if they would be interested. However, I have a dinky car, and I mean DINKY (two-seater hatchback) and no way to transport! I would find a way if I absolutely had to, but only if I had serious interest. Columbus, OH (somewhat nearby) has Victorian Village, and I just KNOW, somewhere, there is a beautiful old painted-lady mansion with a library wall that could benefit from this beautiful old ladder! What I really want to do (and please don't hate me, purists!), is cut it down to repurpose it into a step-ladder that I could actually use daily and therefore enjoy this as a useful object in my home, although it would be shorter. It is not very useful to me at it's full height of 12+ ft, even sideways, because I really do not have 12+ ft of horizontal wall space on which to hang it. Even with all the things I CAN'T do with it at its current size, I have heard so many ideas that I never would have imagined without all of your input! Thanks SO much to everyone who has suggested a use for this.. I really do not want to cut it, but unless an antique store wants to try and sell it, I may just cut it down to a more manageable step-stool size that I can use and love every day.
    • Judy Judy on Oct 01, 2013
      @Christina D Maybe you could call an antique shop and ask them to post a picture? The local shop near us does that free of charge, although some of them ask for a commission. You could try historical societies, too...I agree that there is someone who needs this...the problem is finding them! Craigslist or an antique forum?
  • Keith Keith on Sep 30, 2013
    Another thought.. still cutting it in half, stand both halves side by side, add some trim at the top and bottom ( to hold it together).. bookcase or storage? And there's always the option of trying to sell it to a dealer and take that money and buy something you want :-)
    • Colleen Schake Colleen Schake on Oct 01, 2013
      @Keith I agree... sell to dealer to keep it in tact then get some junk ones that are shorter to play with. This one is too genuine to cut....
  • Judy Judy on Oct 01, 2013
    I just looked at a wall of mine, with a window in the middle and thought I would just LOVE this as part of the window treatment...hang it ceiling height, over the window and accessorize with baskets and books. Just another random thought...
  • Dor262121 Dor262121 on Dec 04, 2013
    Lots of good ideas here. I hope you're convinced NOT to cut it. It's very cool, and if you can't find a use for it as is, I would sell it to an antiques dealer or at auction.
  • Julie Moyna Julie Moyna on Dec 04, 2013
  • Mark Cosner Mark Cosner on Feb 08, 2014
    I have the exact same ladder with out the hardware...if you are interested in selling the hardware alone please contact me!
  • Nancy Toy Nancy Toy on Jun 12, 2014
    If you have a wall long enough to hang sideways it would make a great bookcase with the book at an angle .
  • Wendy Johnson Wendy Johnson on Jun 16, 2014
    And if you sell it you have no idea what they will do with it, including cutting it up. So unless you can make some serious money, do whatever brings you pleasure cos whoever buys would do the same...
  • Dee Dee on Sep 29, 2015
    I love the idea of hanging it as a wall decoration. You could use to display small artifacts/decorative pieces, 'frame' art, hang quilts or samplers . . .
  • Alton Abbott Alton Abbott on Nov 27, 2017

    Please get in touch with me. alton a

  • Duane Fauntleroy Duane Fauntleroy on Jul 02, 2018

    Be very careful. I recently fell. Read this article about ladder safety:

    I wish I knew this before being stupid