How To Install Telescoping Boat Ladder? | Ideas

If you love fishing or watersports, your boat might be one of your favorite places. But is your boat safe and convenient? A telescoping boat ladder ensures easier onboarding and is a safe option for watersports, scuba diving, or just plain swimming. 

With a wide variety of boat ladders on the market, you should choose the best telescoping ladder that caters to your needs before installation. Since removable boat ladders with telescopic designs can extend in one-foot increments, they give you the height of an extendable ladder without hassle. Their folding design also removes any need for storage.

As such, using a boat ladder for safety measures during unprecedented emergencies is advisable. Here’s a detailed blueprint for installing such a boarding ladder.

Tools And Supplies You Will Need To Install Removable Ladder

Tools and supplies you will need to install removable ladder

1. Telescoping boat ladder

2. Masking tape

3. Screwdriver and drill motor set

5. Pencil or sketch pen

6. 3M 5200 marine or similar sealant

7. Stainless steel bolts, mounting screws, and nuts 

9. Socket wrench

10. Gloves and cleaning rags

Installation Guide For Telescoping Boarding Ladders

1. Choosing The Right Ladder

Boat ladders have different features, and you must choose the one that fits your boat. Various kinds of removable ladders, such as rope ladders, rear entry ladders, hook ladders, and swim ladders, offer multifaceted features convenient for different usage.

To find what you need, measure the height of your boat from the deck. The longer the measurement, the more steps you will require. 

Moreover, the required width of the ladder depends upon the desired weight capacity. The best boat ladders come in both stainless steel and aluminum. Most people prefer the former for solidity and looks, while others prefer aluminum since it’s light and cheap. 

Foldable ladders that stand away from the hull are the safest option since there is a lesser risk of hurting your fingers or toes. Look for boat ladders with slip-proof plastic tread platforms for increased comfort and security. Also, a long ladder with tall handrails is preferable for a great surface area for gripping and easy boarding.

2. Choose Your Location

Now that you have laid your hands on a boat ladder, you can begin the installation process. Make sure to locate a spot on the transom on the port or starboard side far enough not to interfere with turning the motor or drive. Check whether your motor is tilted up or down, and accordingly, choose your spot. 

Cover the area with masking tape to avoid scratching the transom after choosing your spot. Then, draw a vertical line on the transom to mark the edge of the ladder (it should be 90 degrees to the waterline). 

Next, draw another horizontal line marking the waterline level when the boat is at rest or docked. Double-check your markings with the help of the mounting plate.  

3. Measure The Dimensions 

To ensure a perfect fit, measure the height of the boat ladder by holding it along the vertical line corresponding to the waterline. It is advisable to check that two lower steps of the ladder should be below the waterline for smoother onboarding. This measurement is necessary if you don’t have good upper body strength. 

Moving on, mark the top of the ladder’s bolt. This line will enable you to locate the position of the two top holes of the mounting plate. 


Don’t forget to check behind the transom for any wires or supports. There should be enough room to accommodate the backboard. If not, consider switching sides.

4. Mark The Holes and Drill

Mark the location of the four mounting holes using the plate as the outline. Ensure that the vertical line is positioned in the middle of the mounting plate. The previously drawn markings at the top of the ladder will make it easier to locate the upper two holes. 

Using the mounting bracket as your angling guide, drill one hole and then use a bolt to attach the assembly to the transom securely. Follow this method to drill the remaining holes. 


Double-check your alignment and measurements before you begin drilling.

5. Bolt, Seal, and Attach

Transoms often have a wooden core and require proper sealing to prevent rot. Apply a generous amount of sealant between the transom and poly spacer, and then mount the bracket with bolts and a backing plate, if required. Repeat the sealing process and apply it generously on the bolts. 

Usually preassembled, it takes minimal effort to mount the boat ladder. Remember to re-torque the bolt after 24 hours and remove any excess sealant. Then, attach your boat ladder with the pilot holes and fasteners provided. Then, try it out to check whether it is properly holding your weight. 


You can also add a swim platform to boarding ladders and turn them into swim ladders!

How To Use A Telescoping Ladder Safely

Knowing how to use a telescopic ladder safely is essential before you begin operating it. To eliminate any risk during onboarding or other activities, here are some guidelines you can follow:

Step 1

When you receive your telescoping boat ladder, read the instructions and thoroughly familiarize yourself with the safety and locking mechanisms and features. Make sure to release the straps holding the retracted ladder and remove the connector at the top rung to make boarding easier.

Step 2

While extending each rung, remember to engage the locking mechanism before extending the next rung. And don’t step on the topmost rung of the boat ladder. Also, putting too much weight on the locking systems can make them stuck. 

Step 3

When you’re descending the boat ladder, simultaneously lock the buttons on the inside. Once you have retracted the ladder, secure it with a strap to avoid accidents.  

Step 4

To help your telescoping ladder last longer, take proper after-care to withstand harsh marine conditions. These thrive in a dry environment, so wipe them after use. 

How to install telescoping boat ladder verdict

How To Install Telescoping Boat Ladder Verdict

In this article, we discussed the step-by-step process of how to install a telescoping boat ladder, as well as the safety guidelines that you should follow. Different kinds of boat ladders may require additional steps; for example, an attached swim platform may require you to attach it to the board before installing the ladder. 

Furthermore, it is important to decide if you need to add any storage brackets or make a backing plate for your swim ladder before installation to prevent having to redo the process later. Thereafter, your boat ladder will be ready and safe to use.

If you want to read a similar informational article, we recommend checking out “Can A Ladder Stabilizer Be Used With A Telescoping Ladder?”

That said, we’ll be signing off now. Until next time, happy boating!


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