pool ladder rust


Jul 9, 2017
toronto, on, canada
I bought a house with a salt water pool and the screws used for the ladder are completely rusted. The rest of the ladder is fine. I have read this is not uncommon if the screws are not made of stainless steel. I also noticed a few very small rust stains in the pool, maybe 3 stains ~ 1-2 cm. I understand stains in a vinyl liner pool (which I have) can be caused by things like metal that have prolonged contact with the pool floor. I removed the ladder, took out the screws and I tried to scrub out the rust with CLR as the rust from the screw spread to the adjacent metal surface and surface of the plastic (i.e. the steps of the ladder). I have not been completely successful, there is still some rust staining on the ladder adjacent to the screws and on the plastic stairs. I replaced the screws with stainless steel to prevent the problem from repeating itself.

Now my question: After all that work, given that I have not been able to completely remove the surrounding rust from the ladder is it a bad idea to put the ladder back in the pool, or is it possible some of the staining on the bottom of the pool was not triggered by metalic objects on the bottom but in fact by a source of rust in the pool i.e. my ladder. In other words, can the rust on the ladder spread to other areas of the pool. To be clear, structurally the ladder seems fine and I don't think I'm worried about the ladder being damaged by a little rust, I'm more concerned with possible harm to the pool liner if theres a bit of rust still on the ladder (i.e. does rust spread like that?). When I googled, there is a lot of debate and guessing, but on this forum I know there are some experts and if any of them could respond to this it would be much appreciated. Thank you very much for reading and any help!!!


TFP Expert
LifeTime Supporter
Apr 27, 2012
Grand Rapids, MI
My suggestion is also just a guess, but since I frequently wrangle with Metal issues, in your shoes, I’d spend the $300 or so to just replace the ladder with the coated kind. You won’t know if/when that ladder corrodes internally, or how much of it leeches into the pool. Why not just eliminate the chance of a problem?

Saffron is a brand of coated ladders made for salt water pools if you decide to go that route.

You may be fine if you don’t, but Metal sequestrant is expensive and a mere season of it could cover much of the cost of a new ladder ;)


Well-known member
Jun 16, 2016
Peoria, AZ
I believe another option is to keep the ladder (replace rusty screws though) and add a sacrificial anode so you don’t keep getting rust. I am by no means an expert on this though