Can I hang a pull-up bar from my floor joists, or should I?
May 20, 2011 7:02 AM   Subscribe

I would like to hang a pullup bar in my basement. The best thing would be to hang it from the floor joists. Could I drill a hole in the joists to hang the bar, or do I need to use some sort of hanger?

If I can drill a hole without damaging my house's structure, how big a hole is acceptable? These are 2X12 joists.
posted by OmieWise to Home & Garden (17 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
The best way to do this, I would think, is to drill a hole large enough to push the pullup bar through. If the bar is 1-inch in diameter, one-inch holes won't affect the integrity of the floor joists.
posted by dfriedman at 7:09 AM on May 20, 2011

Of course, my solution assumes that there is enough space above the joists to do this. That may not be the case now that I think about it.
posted by dfriedman at 7:10 AM on May 20, 2011


2x12 is (almost certainly) overbuilt, meaning you can (almost certainly) drill a couple of holes. For size reference, have a look at the holes that are drilled in your floor joists for water service / plumbing / electrical service.

Having said that, be smart about it: don't drill where there are already holes for plumbing or electric. If you can find convenient joists that don't already have any holes in them, those would be best.

Again, to be safe: If you want to put in a bar that is a diameter larger than any of the holes you see, consider drilling to put in mounting bolts to which you will attach the bar, rather than drilling out the diameter of the bar itself.
posted by gauche at 7:11 AM on May 20, 2011

Keep the hole towards the middle of the joist, and especially avoid putting it right near the bottom. It will be fine.
posted by jon1270 at 7:19 AM on May 20, 2011

Here (PDF) are some guidelines that seem reasonable - for a round hole in the center of a 12" joist, looks like it ought to be no bigger than 4" with no part closer than 2" from the edge of the joist.
posted by exogenous at 7:20 AM on May 20, 2011

You should be able to do what you want to do with the following caveats. Do not drill into the bottom one half of the joist. You need some "meat" under the bar for your pull-ups. Next, besure to drill a hole that is about one and one half times the diameter of the pipe. Because the pipe will be longer than the space between the joists, you will want to approach the hole at an angle to get the pipe into place. The alternative is to make the pipe out of two pieces connected by a pipe joint. Slip the pipes into each hole and then screw them together in the middle.

This is the time to buy that angle driver you have always wanted, so you can drill the holes more easily.
posted by Old Geezer at 7:21 AM on May 20, 2011

Where is your head going to go with this pullup bar? It would be really close to the ceiling no?

What I would do is get 2 pieces of, say, 2x8, maybe 18" long. I'd screw them to the joists with 12" of their length hanging down. Plenty of screws. Then I'd drill holes in these and put the hang up bar through. Should give you plenty of head room.
posted by RustyBrooks at 7:22 AM on May 20, 2011 [2 favorites]

Drilling holes in the joists is not a problem. But like others have said you don't want to put the holes right at the bottom, and you're running out of space for your head. Probably the simplest way to install this is to run a pair of nice fat bolts into adjacent joists and hang the bar from them with a loop of wire or cable.
posted by nangar at 7:33 AM on May 20, 2011

RustyBrooks has the approach I would take:

Make a 2x4 hanger. Scab a couple of 2x4 vertically on the joists. Pre-drill your holes for the bar.

Advantages: You don't damage your house. You get to put the bar at the height you want and not less than a foot from the ceiling and you can drill and fit the bar easily---to fit a bar in the holes between two joists means that you'll either have to use two short bars joined in the centre, drill out the holes quite a bit larger than your rod or you'll have to drill holes in neighbouring joists too.
posted by bonehead at 7:39 AM on May 20, 2011

why not put lag bolts in the joists, and hang the bar via hook&chain off the lag bolts ?

Doing so means you will wobble/swing on your pull ups, but it also means you can space the bar for how close to the ceiling it will be for headroom (or high off the ground for getting onto the bar).
posted by k5.user at 7:45 AM on May 20, 2011

Similar to k5.user's plan, check out the Stud Pull-Up Bar or similar items. Well constructed with plenty of headroom and you mount it with a couple lag bolts in the joist.

Hang a set of rings off the pull-up bar and now you can do dips, rows and other fun stuff, too.
posted by Loto at 7:48 AM on May 20, 2011

I recently bought a pull up bar from Amazon, attached it to a floor joist in my basement by simply drilling four holes and securing it with lag bolts. It's solid as a rock.
posted by gnutron at 8:12 AM on May 20, 2011

Putting a fastener is shear (IE: some screws holding a bracket to the sides) is easier to do securely because you are depending on the strength of the steel fastener rather than the pull out strength of the wood.

If you want the bar directly below the joists than the easiest thing would be to fasten it there with all round secured with screws thru the side of the joist. Cut a piece of the strapping 24 inches long for each end; bend it into a U shape and then fasten to the joists from the side with two 12 X 11/2 pan head wood screws on each side of the U (IE: four per strap). Or you could bolt through the joist with a 1/4" bolt.

gauche writes "2x12 is (almost certainly) overbuilt, "

You can't say this without knowing the span, spacing, sub floor(nailed, screwed, or glued), whether the joist is only end supported or mid span supported, dead load, and expected live load.
posted by Mitheral at 8:48 AM on May 20, 2011

Thanks. I think I'll probably rig a system that depends the bar below the joists.
posted by OmieWise at 9:16 AM on May 20, 2011

You can't say this without knowing the span, spacing, sub floor(nailed, screwed, or glued), whether the joist is only end supported or mid span supported, dead load, and expected live load.

You're right. Thank you.
posted by gauche at 10:24 AM on May 20, 2011

I am a structural engineer. Mitheral is right, there are a number of pieces of info you'd need to provide before any reputable engineer will definitively tell you whether you should drill through your floor joist or not.

That said, 99% of the time, you're alright to drill a hole in a typical timber joist for this kind of modification if you put it in the middle third of the joist, both along its length and across its face. Therefore your hole will need to be smaller in diameter than (depth of the joist) / 3. I can't imagine a situation in which you'd want a bar for pull-ups located in that position, though, so you'll probably want to hang it below the joists. Nailing a hanger to the joists would be fine, or use a bolt in each joist as sized/described above.
posted by hootenatty at 8:08 PM on May 22, 2011

I would be cautious about taking guidelines regarding how big a hole will not damage the load bearing capacity and applying them to a hole that itself will be load bearing.
posted by smackfu at 8:25 AM on May 23, 2011

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