Safe Scaffolding for Painting Above an Attached Garage.




Introduction: Safe Scaffolding for Painting Above an Attached Garage.

The pictured setup is over 20 years old. In my previous job as an R&D engineer for a government research lab the geek quotient was way up there. When you did a job at home and came up with an idea you would take pictures and bring them in to show others. 
I live near the coast and salt spray makes your shingles take a beating, therefore I stain one side of my house each year. So every 4 years I have to paint over my attached garage. It extends about 10ft above the garage and I came up with this: Plywood with vertical and horizontal cleats, indoor carpet on the bottom and ladder stabilizers attached to a 16ft extension ladder.

The plywood distributes the weight and the carpet protects and grips onto the garage roof. This unit has never shifted ever, I have a matching one for the other side but don't seem to need it. I originality had a 4x4 flat scaffold that easily assembled in place stradling the roof peak, I haven't used it in years but I have loaned it out.

2x8 1/2 inch plywood sheet

8ft of cheap indoor outdoor carpet (HD sells them in 3ft runner width)

Outdoor carpet glue

2, 1x3 x 8ft stapping

2x4 x 4ft

1 1/4 sheet rock wood screws (all the rest)

2 in sheet rock screws (just a few) 

Liquid nails glue (1 tube)

16ft ladder

Set of ladder levelers (try to get the ones with the square bottom they lock in better).

No they are not cheap, but long ago I determined my life was worth more than a shingle and a brick, both of my ladders have these my house is a walkout in the back and they were needed for the slope on the sides the swivel ball feet are necessary for safety. 
Here is one from Amazon

I won't go into their installation they are all different just follow the directions.


Circular Saw

Drill (driver bit)

Caulk gun (for Liquid Nails)

Build / use  at your own risk, I make no guarantees. 

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Step 1: Build Platform

Assuming you got your lumber yard to rip the plywood cut:

Cut 2ft long 1x3 for Cleats
Place the 3 cleats at the bottom, 33 inches and 66 inches glue and screw them from underneath make sure the heads do not protrude.

Take the 2x4 by 4ft cleat and attach it to the top (you can use strapping but let it protrude from the edges I will tell you later why) again screw from underneath and glue liberally. 

Now cut three pieces to fit vertically between the cleats place them so that the cleat is about 8  inches from the edge (see picture). This places the feet of  ladder  straddle the center of the plywood  this is what you are shooting for.

Step 2: Carpet the Bottom

Cut the carpet to the approximate width, you can trim the sides later if you wish to make it neater.
Spread the carpet cement/glue on the plywood (clean plywood and back of carpet well before you place glue).
Apply the carpet as per glue instructions.

Let stand until dry.

Step 3: Affix Ladder Leveler to Ladder.

Follow the manufacturers instructions. Do not skimp here.

As I stated the square ones are best for stabilization.

Even if you don't have a garage but your property is not level buy and install these you will love the added stability especially +20ft up.

Step 4: Use With Caution and Be Safe

I use an upper stabilizer also, it allows you to be away from the building when painting.

Just don't overreach (I do now and then when I get lazy and my wife does not like it and she is correct).

In painting the entire area I need only move it 3 times (not counting initial placement), during which time you hang the ladder over the ridge line and let the upper stabilizer hold it in place.

So you may be wondering; why the 2x4 at the top? 

As you can imagine bringing this thing up the ladder can be cumbersome pulling it up one step at a time as is taking it down when the job is over (even harder). Well solution is a rope loop loosely around the 2x4 and bring the end up with you and use the rope to hoist it up because it is loose (bowline knot) it simply comes off when not taught. 

20 years and still going, I loan it out to neighbors when needed, it can also be used on any roof to cut down on roof wear for chimney work or any other type of repair.

These pictures were taken last Summer, I have another Instructable for window masking (not up yet) that is wicked (Rhode Island speak for extremely) easy and really helps when you are staining. 

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    8 Discussions


    1 year ago

    I built one of these per plans and it works perfectly, not cheap, but very steady and reliable. Instead of the 1x3 cleats, I used 2x4's for an extra deep pocket, also lightly screwed down the lower ladder shoe into the platform so it couldn't shift about. Very helpful in painting a gable end over a garage, exactly as shown in Old Alex's photo. My roofs are 5/12, so pretty easy to walk around on (I get up there many times a year to blow out the gutters and sweep my chimney). I do not like being on steep roofs and would probably not use this on anything steeper than 6/12. I have friends whose roofs are at least 9/12 and I'm not comfortable climbing up on there or sitting. Nice job, Old Alex.


    2 years ago

    this costs money/time and not safe at all. I did following better than this post did:

    1. install a permanent anchor---you have to be able climb to the roof with extension ladder and stabilizer.

    2. tie a safe rope from the anchor to this edge of the wall.

    3. buy a pivit laddertool---with discount it costs $75 then set up the ladder.

    4. tie the ladder to the rope.

    5. tie your own harness to the ladder---not 100% safe but good enough.

    6. start working. I replaced rake boards, I painted this wall using this way. safe.


    7 years ago on Introduction

    A much safer way for someone to do this would be to wrap the support board over the top of the roof to be 100% sure it wouldn't slide off. I know the carpet has worked for you but who's to say it will work for everyone. You could put a hinge so it folds flat and once you get it on the roof you just swing half over the other side of the roof.

    Phil Cyr
    Phil Cyr

    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    Sounds like you are onto a product idea. Make it a 'rope ladder' with solid bars. At each end there would be a hook thing that goes onto the overhang. One end would have a cinch mechanism to adjust to different size roofs. Rolls up and stores small. Light weight and fits in a box at the hardware store.


    Reply 7 years ago on Introduction

    The second one I have was for just that, the 2x4 had a rope around it that looped over the peak and around the second. Tied in a taught line knot so that it could be adjusted when moved. Originally there was a 4ft x 4ft flat scaffold at the peak where it tied off to this too had the carpeting. it was a dual x frame with cross members at the ends and middle. It has vertical supports and was crowned with a 4x4 platform. It was an engineering marvel but overboard for the work I do. Though I loaned it out to a neighbor doing chimney work. For that it was ideal (I may use on mine when I need to re-point it. The flat area was a good work area but was only useful for large jobs like replacing the octagon window in the picture. It was more work than it was worth. I then whet to just the two sides and eventually down to one.

    The second is a mirror image, given the slope of your roof the use of the second may be warranted with a line between. Another idea I did not use was a T support that could be screwed to the scaffold at the appropriate length. That was also never needed given my slope.


    7 years ago on Step 4

    I fell 20 feet from an extension ladder onto a concrete ledge. Although I broke my back (sacrum), I was VERY lucky that it was not worse. In my case, the ladder was set up on a slope and the top was against the ledge of a second story deck with nothing below it. The bottom feet of the ladder slipped out and I fell down. Moral of the story, make absolutely certain that the bottom of the ladder cannot move, no matter what. Kudos for the safety warning on this Instrucatble. Safe and happy climbing....