The 10 Best Ladders in 2020 [Unbiased Reviews & Buying Guide]

Last Updated on October 6, 2020 by Paul King

When it comes to buying ladders you should never settle for anything that’s low quality. Otherwise, you might end up in a situation that might put your safety and health at risk. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than half a million people in America receive treatment for their ladder-related injuries. Out of this statistic, at least 300 patients suffer from fatal complications.

You can avoid horrible ladder-related accidents if you invest in a good quality ladder. Currently, there are hundreds of options you can choose from. To help you find the right ladder for your needs, we created an in-depth shopping guide and product review for ladders.

Best Ladder Reviews

The Little Giant Multi-Use Ladder is known for its superb versatility and reliability. You can easily reconfigure the height, angle, and style of the ladder by adjusting the hinge locks and rapid lock fasteners. It is also equipped with ratchet levelers which ensure that the ladder doesn’t topple even when placed on an uneven work surface.

The ladder is made from industrial-grade aluminum so it is durable and sturdy. Additionally, it is lightweight so you can conveniently bring it anywhere you need to work. This makes it a handy piece of equipment especially when you need to work on numerous parts of your home or your project site.

The Little Giant Velocity Ladder’s 300-lbs capacity sets it apart from the rest of the available ladders in the market. This 39-lb ladder can conveniently carry the weight of two people thanks to aerospace design and aluminum frames.

You can use it when replacing busted lighting fixtures or reaching the roof to replace damaged gutters or shingles. It can also be configured as a staircase, a 90-degree ladder or a scaffolding unit.

Why we like it

  • Multiple A-frame positions make it 5 ladders in 1
  • Palm & Hinge System-Triple-Locking Hinge
  • True two person ladder
  • Long lasting high quality construction
  • Exceeds all OSHA and ANSI standards and is industrial rated up to 300 lbs.

Our Verdict

The Little Giant Velocity Multi-Use Ladder is definitely worth every penny thanks to its durable make and intuitive and compact design.  

Our Rating

5/5

Telescoping ladders such as the Gorilla Ladders MPX Ladders are best known for their compact built, portability and versatility. These are typically made from aircraft-grade aluminum and designed to slide and lock with great ease.

The Gorilla Ladders MPX aluminum Telescoping Ladder is a great choice for your home DIY projects. You can configure this ladder into four different modes namely twin stepladder, extension, stairway, and 90-degree ladder.

Using the speed locks, you can adjust the ladder’s height to your preference. It will allow you to reach high cabinets, walls, and even the roof gutters. The ladder is also equipped with oversized hinges that reduce swaying and flexing to ensure the stability of the ladder as you climb up.

The aluminum frames and steps of this ladder can withstand rust and corrosion. This way you are assured that the product can last for years. On top of that, the ladder is designed to carry up to 375 lbs.

Whether you need a ladder to make a few home repairs or a piece of equipment to help you reach elevated areas in your shop, the Gorilla Ladders MPX Telescoping Ladder is a considerably good choice.

It comes in a variety of sizes. Small ones such as the 17 ft variant work great in a single-story residential setting. If you are looking for something you can use for a commercial project, then you may opt for the 22 ft ladder.

Why we like it

  • Mutli-position ladder with a project top to hold tools
  • 23 foot reach helps to reach extra high areas
  • Project top can act as an extra step
  • Can be used in multiple positions
  • Built in wheels for easy transport

Our Verdict

Whether you need a ladder to make a few home repairs or a piece of equipment to help you reach elevated areas in your shop, the Gorilla Ladders MPX Telescoping Ladder is a considerably good choice.  

Our Rating

5/5

The Werner Multi-Position Ladder, MT-22IAA is a 5-in-1 ladder that allows you to handle painting jobs, roofing maintenance, and other similar tasks with less hassle. It is the top choice of many professionals thanks to its smart design and lightweight build. The ladder features a sturdy aluminum frame plus the slip-resistant rubber bases to ensure your safety while working on your project.

To change the configuration of the ladder, you only need to adjust the J-Locks. Turn the J-Lock to switch into the different modes such as the twin step ladder, wall ladder, extension ladder, scaffold bases, and stairway ladders.

Similar to the telescoping ladder above, the Werner 22 ft Reach Multi-Position Ladder also has a carrying capacity of up to 375 lbs. However, it can reach up to 31 meters, which is 9 meters higher than the usual height provided by other ladders in the market.

Why we like it

  • Multiposition telescoping ladder can be used for every job
  • 22 feet reach with 300 lb duty rating
  • Soft-touch push knobs allow jobs to be completed faster
  • Double riveted steps prevent slipping

Our Verdict

Werner ladders are trusted by both construction professionals and DIY enthusiasts making it a great choice for all renovation and remodeling projects.

Our Rating

5/5

If you prefer using an ultra-compact telescoping ladder, then the Ohuhu 15.5 ft Extension Ladder is an excellent choice. Its sleek and compact design is perfect for those who want to save storage space.

Unlike the traditional type of ladder, the Ohuhu Telescoping Extension ladder uses a single button retraction mechanism. By pressing the button, you can adjust the height of the ladder from the shortest to the highest elevation. It is a 12-step ladder that you can conveniently fold to fit even the tightest space in your workshop or garage.

It also comes with a unique locking mechanism that secures the foot in place when you extend its height. The Ohuhu Aluminum Telescoping Extension Ladder is also equipped with a woven fiber strap that you can use to carry the equipment to your work area.

The best part is that it features an anti-pinch function that protects your fingers from getting caught in between the compressed frames and steps. The item weighs around 25.3 lbs, a bit lighter compared to the usual types of ladder sold today. Nevertheless, it is still a worthy option thanks to its heavy-duty material.

Why we like it

  • Convenient one button retraction for easy use
  • Premium aluminum alloy makes this super light
  • 330 lb weight capacity
  • Extremely versatile makes it perfect for a variety of projects

Our Verdict

Ohuhu telescoping ladders are great for a variety of uses like accessing attics, accessing the roof of RV’s, and having a portable solution for renovation projects.

Our Rating

5/5

Need a ladder for light industrial or residential tasks? The Louisville Fiberglass Ladder might be the right item to use. It can help you reach up to 12 feet high, perfect for reaching items on top of kitchen cabinets, installing new light bulbs, and cleaning the ceiling.

Each ladder is equipped with molded-in tool slots so you can keep your essential tools close to you while working. The unique tool slots can accommodate items such as drills, paint buckets, pipes, screwdrivers, retractable measuring sticks, and wrenches.

It also has spreader braces and grooved rubber steps. This way, you are completely assured that the ladder won’t slip while you climb up. To reinforce the safety and stability of each step, they are attached to the frames with double rivets.

The Louisville Fiberglass has 300-lb load-bearing capacity so it can be used by two people simultaneously. Lastly, while it is made from fiberglass, it only weighs roughly 17 lbs. Hence, it is a superb choice for those who hate carrying heavy multi-position ladders.

Why we like it

  • Covered with a polyester veil for years of durable service
  • Non-conductive rails are perfect for jobs with electrical wires
  • Molded top with handyman's tool slots for easy access
  • Heavy-duty bottom back brace provides additional strength to the bottom of the ladder

Our Verdict

Louisville Fiberglass ladders are the best solution for working near electrical wiring and is an industry leading brand.

Our Rating

5/5

Step ladders are common tools used in both residential and commercial properties. And the Werner 6008 is among the most popular step ladders sold today.

One of the key features of the Werner 8 ft. Ladder is its multi-functional holstertop which allows you to attach tools safely while you are on the ladder. This is a highly preferred featured especially by professionals who want to complete their tasks faster and easier.

The Werner Ladder also comes with a number of safety features such as the slip-resistant rubber foot pads, double-riveted Traction-Tred steps, and anti-pinch spreaders braces. It is made from weather-resistant fiberglass so you can use it in the outdoors.

Also, because it is made from fiberglass, you can avoid electrocution when you work on live wires inside or outside the property. If you need to reach higher places, you should consider other Werner Step Ladder models such as the 12 ft and 10 ft variant.

Why we like it

  • Heavy duty industrial use step ladder
  • Holster top to hold all your tools
  • Pinch-Proof Spreaders
  • 250 pound support

Our Verdict

Werner fiberglass step ladders are perfect for jobs that don’t require extension ladders and may be outdoors or in a setting with live wires.

Our Rating

5/5

If your project requires you to reach high areas you’ll need a reliable extension ladder. Luckily, Louisville manufacturers the most reliable extension ladders which can have a reach up to 40 feet. The 36 ft Louisville extension Ladder is a great choice for most high reach projects.

With a 300 pound load-bearing capacity – it is a reliable choice to carry equipment up and down the ladder safely. It meets or exceeds ANSI 14.4 and CSA grade 1 which makes it an extremely safe choice for reaching such high levels. Additionally, the serrated rungs make it slip resistant during wet conditions making it perfect for outside conditions.

Extension ladders can have trouble extending when they are made to reach such high lengths. These extension ladders have smooth locking guides making it seamless to control the height of the ladder. After extending the ladder to the correct height, locks with quick latch systems ensure that the ladder stays locked at the height you set it.

If you want to shop for an extension ladder for your usual cleaning and maintenance chores, the Louisville Ladders are surely worth your money. Thousands of customers attest to the product’s quality and reliability. Despite its huge size, you won’t have a problem with moving the ladder from one workplace to another.

Why we like it

  • 300 pound capacity including user and tool weight
  • Serrated rungs prevent slippage during wet conditions
  • Lock system ensure ladder stays at correct height
  • Direct rung-to-rail connection provide quality and durabiliy
  • Meets or exceeds ANSI 14.4 and CSA grade 1

Our Verdict

Louisville extension ladders are perfect for outdoor conditions where you need to reach high areas such as roofs, gutters, or high ceilings.

Our Rating

5/5

Aside from step ladders and extension ladders, there are other types of ladders you can buy. One of them is referred to as a work platform.

It doesn’t provide as much height as the traditional type of ladder, but it still comes extra handy when working on all sorts of tasks. For example, you can use a folding work platform to clean up slightly hard to reach places in your home renovation project such as installing light fixtures. You can also install them when you perform a repaint job on the walls of your home or office.

There are a few notable work platforms sold today which include the Gorilla Ladder Work Platform. It is a reliable tool made from aluminum and equipped with safety features like auto-locking legs. Even while you work, the platform locks to ensure that the platform stays in place the entire time you use it. The long platform can also accommodate the tools and equipment you need to complete your chores.

It also has an integrated handle that allows you to carry the Gorilla Ladders Work Platform easily. In case you want to store the equipment, you can simply fold the legs and slide it inside the available storage area. The Gorilla Ladder Work Platform is indeed an item that offers a lot of value and functionality.

Why we like it

  • High quality aluminum makes this extremely durable
  • Perfect for a wide variety of renovation tasks
  • Slim form with 375 lb weight rating
  • Locking legs and slip resistant surface
  • Ideal for DIY and general maintenance work

Our Verdict

The wide platform and 375 lb. weight capacity make it an extremely versatile tool that can be used in a wide array of projects.

Our Rating

5/5

Want to improve the accessibility of your attic? While an ordinary type of ladder might seem like the obvious choice, experts insist on using attic ladders. These are specifically designed to fit attics. The Louisville Elite Aluminum Attic Ladder is a fine example of a product you can use.

It is known for its high bearing capacity, grooved steps, and wide aluminum frames. With this extra-wide aluminum ladder, you can carry items such as storage boxes to the attic without a problem. It is quite simple to use. All you need is to install the ladder properly. Once in place, you can pull the ladder down and use it to access your attic when you want to store or retrieve items.

Unlike the regular type of ladder, a specialized tool such as the Louisville Attic Ladder provides you with permanent access to the attic. It also provides you with additional comfort while you climb the steps thanks to the spacious toe clearance. The Louisville Ladder also has door slats that can protect the attic door from damage especially when you step on the ladder.

Overall, the Louisville Attic Ladder has received a lot of positive reviews from its buyers. Customers can’t stop raving about the Louisville Attic Ladder’s superior design and smooth spring mechanism. It is considered one of the best attic ladders on the market currently and fits a a wide range of interior designs.

Why we like it

  • Fits a wide range of ceiling heights
  • 375 lb load bearing capacity
  • Heavy duty hinges help ladder unfold smoothly
  • Durable construction that reinforces stability

Our Verdict

This is the best attic ladder for the money that is currently on the market.

Our Rating

5/5

Using a chair to access elevated areas in your homes and offices presents a lot of safety risks. At any moment, you might lose your balance and fall on your back. Instead of suffering from severe fractures, sprain, and other injuries, it would be wise for you to use high quality step ladders like the Rubbermaid 3-step Steel Frame Ladder.

Rubbermaid is a well-known manufacturer of various household items. The brand has definitely come a long way from producing bath mats and doormats to offering home improvement equipment such as the Rubbermaid Folding Steel Ladder. This 200-lb load-bearing 3-step ladder provides enough safety, comfort, and functionality when reaching heights.

Aside from the easy-to-use design, this folding ladder also features a large standing base. This way you have ample space for your feet and legs while standing on the plastic steps. The ladder’s frame is made from solid steel so it can withstand extreme weather conditions. To minimize slipping and leaving scratches on the flooring surfaces, each leg of the folding ladder is equipped with rubber covers.

The only disadvantage to the Rubbermaid 3-Step Steel Frame Ladder is its heavy weight due to the materials used. Thankfully, it comes with an easy to grip handle which can help you move the ladder from your work area to the storage space.

Why we like it

  • Can be used on a wide range of projects
  • Hand grip helps with stability
  • Folds up for easy storage
  • Type 3 duty rating with 200 lb load capacity
  • Comes with a 1 year warranty

Our Verdict

This is the best attic ladder for the money that is currently on the market.

Our Rating

4.5/5
best-ladder-reviews

What to Look for In A Ladder

Regardless if you need to do your usual cleaning chores or handle major renovation jobs, you need to have a good quality ladder on hand. This will help you ensure your comfort and safety while completing your chores. When you shop for a ladder, there are a few things you should consider. Some of these factors include the material used, size and load capacity rating.

You also need to consider what type of ladder to get, the available accessories you can use,  and how you intend to use it. Today, there are plenty of ladders sold both in physical and online stores. Learning more about your ideal type of ladder will allow you to narrow down your choices to the best option.

The Material

The first thing to consider when looking for a ladder is the material. Traditionally, ladders are made from wood, but over the years manufacturers have experimented on using other materials such as steel, aluminum, fiberglass, and plastic.

Wood

Wood is perhaps the most affordable material used to make ladders. As such these are the cheapest options sold in the market today. This type of ladder is an excellent choice for indoor. You can use them for all sorts of chores. It is, however, not a good option for outdoor use. When exposed to high levels of moisture, the material may rot or warp. Under extreme heat, wooden ladders can also crack.

Aluminum

When it comes to durability and reliability, aluminum is the best option in the market. This is why most of the ladders manufactured nowadays are made from aluminum. It is best suited for a residential setup, but it can also be used for minor commercial projects. Thanks to the chemical properties of aluminum, it does not corrode or rust. Also, it is an excellent choice if you want to have a ladder that can last for years.

Fiberglass

The fiberglass ladder is comparatively stronger and more durable than aluminum. Also, it does not conduct electricity. As such, it is a great choice if you need to work on wires.  Lastly, even when exposed to extreme weather conditions or pressure levels, the material can maintain its shape and structural integrity.

Steel

Aside from wood ladders, steel ladders are also quite cheap. Steel is also quite a sturdy material. However, unlike the aluminum variant, steel ladders tend to suffer from rusting or corrosion when exposed to water and moisture.  Also, pure steel ladders tend to be a bit heavy.

Plastic

Most ladder manufacturing companies pair steel ladder frames with plastic rungs. This way, they can offset the heaviness of steel. It is a great choice especially if you are looking for a short-term solution. Most plastic ladders available are designed for simple residential tasks such as dusting the shelves and decorating the walls in a one-story home.

Size (Height of the ladder)

Another key factor you must consider when shopping for a ladder is its size or height. When you browse online catalogs or visit physical shops, ask for the ladder’s maximum reach.

Some ladders can only give a maximum reach of 8 ft while others can help you reach more than 28 ft above the ground. If you need ladders for roof maintenance, gutter repair, ceiling cleaning or other similar tasks, you should choose a model that has a high reach. It should be able to provide you with enough room when you work on your tasks.

Load Capacity Rating

Load capacity refers to the total weight a ladder can accommodate. Some manufacturers refer to it as performance or duty rating. To determine whether the duty rating of a ladder suits your needs, compute for your weight as well as the tools and materials you will use. The load capacity is denoted in pounds.

The American National Standard Institute (ANSI) provides the duty ratings. Below are the standard classifications:

  • Type 1 ladders are a strong class of ladder. They are used for construction and service utilities. This category can be divided into three smaller subcategories:
    • Type IAA (375 lbs)
    • Type IA (300 lbs)
    • Type I (250 lbs)
  • Type II ladders have a load capacity of 225 pounds, perfect for simple chores at home or in your shop.
  • Type III ladders can accommodate up to 200 pounds, so they are enough for small projects.

You can find the duty rating on the sidewall of a ladder’s frame. Do take note that the maximum height of a ladder has nothing to do with its load capacity rating. Hence, you should refer to the label or the product description to know the duty rating.

What Are the Different Types of Ladders?

Besides checking the material, duty rating and size, you also need to consider the type of ladder you will purchase. There is a wide range of ladders you can choose from. They primarily differ in style, reach, and design. There are also ladders that can be reconfigured in various ways to serve a specific purpose. Some of the types of ladders you can find in shops today are as follows:

Step ladder

This type of ladder comes with an A-frame design. It is probably the most common ladder-type you can find used in a residential setup. The front side of the step ladder is where you will find the rungs. The other side is used to support the entire structure as well as your weight when you climb up the steps.

Twin Step Ladder

As the name suggests, this kind of ladder has rungs on both sides. That means you can use it on both sides. It is an ideal option if two people need to work simultaneously on a task. They can be used both for residential and commercial projects.

Podium/Platform ladder

The podium ladder offers a lot of functionality and stability. Unlike the ordinary type of ladder, a podium ladder comes with a larger platform. As such, it can comfortably support the weight of the user and give them a safe area to work on.

Trestle ladder

Most people often refer to it as the double front ladder. It is a self-supporting and highly portable ladder that joins at the top. Like a twin ladder, the trestle ladder can also allow two people to work side by side. To use a trestle ladder, you must ensure that the base is spread evenly and the spreaders are tightly locked.

Tripod ladder

Tripod ladders are usually referred to as garden step ladders. Gardeners, landscapers, topiary specialists, and orchard owners use them a lot. They can be used on uneven workspaces such as the yard. Also, they are made from lightweight materials such as aluminum, so you can easily carry them around.

Telescoping ladder

Telescoping ladders are basically ladders that can slide outwards or inwards. They are a popular choice especially among folks who want to store their ladders in tight storage spaces. However, compared to other ladders, this type tends to come with a few safety risks especially if you go beyond its load capacity rating.

Extension Ladder

It is a non-self supporting partition ladder known for its adjustable length. It has two or more sections that slide to extend the length of the frame. It is designed to accommodate the weight of a single person. Once you are done using it, you can collapse the frame to fold the structure.

Multi-position ladder

Another name for this ladder type is a combination or articulating ladder. They give you extra versatility, and they can be used to meet various needs. Multi-purpose ladders can be turned to either a single or a twin-ladder depending on the model.

Attic ladder

This is a retractable staircase that pulls from the ceiling to provide you access to the attic. You can fold it up and tuck away the frames when not in use. Most of these ladders come in pre-assembled kits. You can install them in an existing ceiling frame. Sometimes the ladder fits seamlessly. But in some cases, you may need to make slight modifications to fit the frame of the attic door.

Step stools

These are standard ladders used at home to reach the top of the shelf, kitchen cabinet, or the counter. They are so small that your kids can use them too. A typical step stool ladder only has a single rung to give you a slight boost when reaching for an object. Others have two or three steps. A step stool folds easily so you won’t have a problem storing them. Additionally, they are sold at a very affordable price.

Ladder Accessories

Oftentimes, a ladder is already enough to help you accomplish your cleaning, repair or maintenance tasks. However, there are some instances when you might need a bit of help from a few ladder accessories. These items come in all shapes, sizes, and functionalities.

Planks

Have a job that requires the use of a scaffolding ladder? You will need a plank so you can work back and forth and minimize shaking or warping of the ladder. These are available in various types:

  • Wood planks – These are a super light and durable type of plank that can provide the utmost comfort when you work on your project.
  • Aluminum planks – Nothing comes close to the safety offered by an aluminum plank. These do not split even when subjected to intense pressure. These are also equipped with slip-resistant coating.
  • Telescoping planks – A telescoping plank is a great accessory to use if you want to save storage space. When not in use, you can collapse the extended part to reduce its size.
  • Scaffolding planks – They are used for scaffolding purposes only. The majority of them are made from wood, aluminum, or steel. Ideally, you should purchase one from the same manufacturer of your scaffolding ladder.

Ladder Platform

Anyone who has used a ladder before will tell you how uncomfortable it can be to stand on the ladder rung for a long time. A scenario like this makes it a bit nightmarish to use ladders, especially if you have to work on long projects such as painting the walls.

Thankfully, you can solve this problem with a ladder platform. It is a great accessory that allows you to stand on the ladder comfortably even after very long hours. When you purchase a ladder, we recommend considering a ladder platform as well. This type of accessory is a must especially if you need to use your ladder frequently.

Ladder platforms are easy to use. You only need to secure the platform on the rungs. Besides accommodating your weight, a good quality ladder platform also comes extra handy in carrying tools, paint buckets, and other equipment you need to use.

Do take note that you won’t need to buy ladder platforms if you use a podium ladder or a multi-position ladder. Make sure to double-check the features of your existing ladder to know if you still need to install an add-on.

Ladder Levelers

A leveler ensures the ladder stays upright even when you use them on an uneven space such as the garden or a construction site. With a reliable ladder leveler, you can ensure your safety, especially while working on straining tasks.

Some ladders are already equipped with this security feature so you may have to skip buying one. However, if yours doesn’t have this add-on, you should consider grabbing one from your favorite shop. There are plenty of ladder levelers sold so you may need to ask for a model that best suits your ladder.

To avoid compatibility issues, we recommend buying levelers from the same ladder manufacturer. Typically, they have specific models sold for specific ladder material or style.

Ladder Standoff

They are also referred to as stabilizers. They are used on either an extensive ladder or multi-purpose ladder to provide extended and stable positioning. It works by connecting the top of the ladder to your work area. Its role is to position the ladder around 10 to 19 inches away from the structure where it is leaning on to prevent damage. A standard standoff ladder has wide tubular-shaped arms and non-skid rubber feet to prevent you from slipping.

Ladder Jacks

Scaffolding is an essential supporting structure used in various types of projects. They come extra handy in ensuring the safety of a worker. However, assembling scaffolding can take up a worker’s time. Additionally, it can cost a lot of money to rent scaffolding. According to CostHelper.com, scaffolding rentals can cost around $15 to $50 a day. If you are eyeing on a more practical option, a ladder jack is the perfect equipment to use.

Ladder jacks offer the versatility of scaffolding sans the expensive rental fee and lengthy setup time. Once you have a ladder jack in place, you can walk back and forth without having to adjust the ladder. When you shop for a ladder jack, you need to choose between two types:

  • Over the rail and rung – It is a robust type of rack designed to give you strong support when you carry a heavy load on the ladder. The only downside to using this type of jack is the slightly complicated installation process because of its weight. Additionally, you need to pay attention to where you slide the jack to prevent it from slipping while you are working.
  • Over the rungs only – It is made up of aluminum and provides a more seamless positioning compared to the over the rail and rung type. Since it is relatively lighter, you can easily install it anywhere you want. However, it has a low limit capacity, especially when paired with a ladder that has a low duty rating.

Ladder Rack

Ladder racks are available in different designs and styles. Their primary purpose is to support the weight of ladders when placed against vehicles or walls. They are useful for contractors because they make it easier to transport the ladder to the project site. Ladder racks work on all types of ladders including extension ladders, step ladders, and multi-purpose ladders.

Aluminum ladder racks are the most popular choice today followed by steel ladder racks. Both types of materials are ideal for heavy outdoor work because of their strength and non-corrosive nature.

What Type of Ladders do Contractors Need to Use?

If you are a contractor, you will need a reliable and sturdy ladder. As much as possible, you should opt for multi-purpose ladders. In the earlier years, contractors used to own all kinds of ladders because of the variety of tasks they need to handle.

They use extension ladders to work on the roof, a stepladder to install cabinets, scaffolding ladders to fix walls, and more. Thankfully, today, you can have a single piece of equipment for all your tasks.

A typical multi-purpose ladder can be reconfigured up to five distinct ways such as the A-frame, step ladder and twin ladder. Multi-position ladders are not only cost-effective but also works great for those who need a space-saving equipment.

How to Use an Extension Ladder

Ladders are dangerous if not used correctly. If you fail to position the ladder properly, it might cause you to fall and suffer from severe injuries. The American National Standard Institute reported that around 130,000 accidents and 300 deaths were caused by ladder-related incident back in 2018 alone. Without implementing the right techniques, you might end up facing the same nightmarish fate. Check out the proper steps in using an extension ladder.

Step 1: Set up the extension ladder the right way

Lean the ladder on the structure. The distance from the wall or the structure to the legs of the ladder should have a 4:1 ratio. This ratio ensures that the ladder doesn’t tip sideways or backward while you ascend. Aside from the ratio, you should also consider the smoothness or roughness of the ground.

If you are standing on a rough area, you need to adjust the levelers found on the bottom portion of the ladder. If the ground feels soft, you must lift up the levelers in order to secure the ladder’s feet.

Once you have the ladder position, you can test it. Call in someone to help check the angle of the ladder. Alternatively, you can install OSHA or ANSI compliant support accessories such as stabilizers to secure everything in place.

Step 2: Know the weight limit

Never go beyond the stated load carrying capacity of the ladder. Doing so might cause the rungs to warp or break. Check the maximum weight it can support on the side of the ladder frame.

Step 3: Position your body correctly

See to it that your body is oriented properly against the ladder. Grab the frames tightly and ascend the ladder one rung at a time. We recommend making sure that you have three points of contact with the rungs and frames of the ladder. Take your time when you climb up to avoid slipping or getting your foot stuck in one of the ladder rungs.

Also, as much as possible, you should avoid carrying stuff with you. Use a tool belt bag or vest to keep your hands free at all times.

Step 4: Call in an assistant

Ask someone to watch you closely while you climb the steps. This way he/she can tell you if the angle looks a bit off. Your assistant can also help you with the tools and equipment you need while working.

Step 7: Tie off the top portion of the ladder

If you are going to make several trips up and down, you have to secure the top so that it won’t slide. Tying the top is especially crucial if you need to work on the roof. This will help prevent accidents as well as roof and gutter damage. You can tie the ladder on a solid anchor or use a stabilizer.

The steps above can be used not only for extension ladders but also for other types and models as well. Be extra cautious when you ascend to avoid unwanted issues.

Ladder safety

The American Ladder Institute states that most injuries or accidents are caused by improper ladder use or selection. Here are some safety rules you need to follow to avoid suffering from fatal ladder-related injuries:

  • Place the ladder on a firm surface and use the leg-levelers when appropriate.
  • Be wary when working with wires to prevent electrocution.
  • Don’t set up a ladder near a doorway or places with high foot traffic.
  • Never use a ladder while under the rain, lightning, or strong winds.
  • The ladder section must be secured together. That way, they won’t fail or unfold.
  • Check whether you secure the ladder parts correctly.
  • Secure loose ends all the time.
  • Avoid jerky movements while you are working on the ladder.
  • Never climb a ladder when you feel dizzy or sick.
  • Both feet need to be on the ladder, and you have to position your body’s center of gravity correctly while ascending.
  • A ladder shouldn’t be put on top of a rock, a box, or any type of unstable surface.
  • Check the state of the ladder before using it.
  • Never use a damaged ladder when working on a project
  • Read instructions before using the ladder for the first time.

What is the Three-Point of Contact Rule?

Earlier, we mentioned having at least three points of contact while you climb the steps. These points include your hands and feet. Practice climbing up and down the stairs while ensuring that your hands and feet stay in contact with the frames or rungs of the ladder. If you have a hard time checking your posture, ask someone to take a look and provide feedback on how you can improve. Take note of these issues and make the necessary adjustments.

Transporting the ladder

  • Make sure all the loose ends are secured.
  • Ensure the ladder is locked before loading them on the vehicle.
  • Ensure your vehicle’s rack or anchor points are in good working condition.
  • When transporting a ladder on a truck without a rack, you need to place the ladder against the cab or use padding to prevent protect it from damage.
  • Always lift a ladder with your hands instead of putting them on your back.

Storing the ladder

  • Clean the ladder to protect it from rusting or degrading.
  • See to it that the storage area can accommodate the ladder.
  • If you use wooden ladders, store them in a dry and well-ventilated area.
  • Call a partner to help you carry the ladder.
  • Find the center portion of the ladder and carry it from there.
  • Exercise caution when moving a ladder along with the doorway, passageway, and any place that is obstructed.
  • Fiberglass ladders should never be exposed to temperatures above 200 degrees F.

OSHA Standards

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration of the US imposes regulations meant to prevent injuries, illness, or death in the workplace. Formed under President Richard Nixon, OSHA has been a crucial body that monitors and assesses the safety standards in various industries such as ladder manufacturing.

While the agency embraces innovation and creativity in this sector,  they develop strict standards and laws that every ladder manufacturers have to follow. Some of these standards are:

  1. The ladder steps or rungs should be parallel and uniformly spaced.
  2. Each ladder rung should measure at least 11.5 to 16 inches wide.
  3. There should be around 10’ to 14 inches spaces between each rung.
  4. The ladder should be free of slippery substances such as grease, oil, and wet paint.
  5. Every ladder has to be used for its intended purpose.

OSHA has many other regulations. To know more about them, you can head over to their website. As a responsible buyer, you must ensure that you purchase an OSHA or ANSI compliant ladder or ladder accessory. This way, you are assured of the quality and safety of the product.

FAQ About Ladders

Can You Repair Ladders?

Yes. You can order pre-packaged parts replacement from the manufacturers. If you are not sure how to install the parts, you can look for an authorized dealer to help you.

Are all ladders the same?

No. Ladders vary in so many ways from the height, materials used, designed to the quality of the frame and rungs.

What does a ladder grade mean?

This refers to the maximum load a ladder can carry. Some regulating bodies use the grading categories Type 1AA, 1A, 1, II, and III while others use Grade 1A, 1, 2 and 3.

Which institutions grades ladders?

There are a lot of organizations that monitor and assess the quality of ladders sold in the market. Here are some examples:

  • ANSI (American National Standard Institute)
  • CEN (European Union)
  • CSA (Canadian Standard Association)
  • OSHA (Occupational Safety and Health Administration)

Do you have to tie a ladder?

Yes. This will help prevent the ladder from slipping. Here are some other ways you can secure your ladder:

  • Tie the ladder to a stable and strong surface.
  • Use the necessary ladder accessories to get additional support.
  • Secure the foot of the ladder with the leveler.
  • Check the rubber pads on the foot for signs of wear and tear and replace it if needed.

What is the maximum height?

It depends on the type of ladder you buy. Check the product description or call the manufacturer or supplier.

Fiberglass Vs. Aluminum ladders

The two most common types of ladders are fiberglass and aluminum. Both types make an ideal choice for heavy-duty work and major projects. To know which one best suits your project, you need to know the features and benefits that each type can provide.

Fiberglass ladders features and benefits

Fiberglass ladders certainly have a lot of advantages over the aluminum type. For starters, fiberglass is not an electrical conductor. Hence, it a piece of excellent equipment to use even when working on electrical wires under harsh weather conditions. Fiberglass is also more durable than aluminum. It doesn’t bend or change shape even after many years of usage. This type of ladder also offers a sturdier and more stable feel especially when you need to work on highly elevated areas such as the roof.

The main drawback of this type of ladder, however, is its weight. You might need to ask for an extra hand in order to move the ladder around your commercial or residential property.

Aluminum ladders features and benefits

The key selling point of an aluminum ladder is its lightweight structure. Unlike fiberglass ladders, you can easily transport an aluminum ladder. It will help you save a lot of time and manpower.

While it is not as sturdy as fiberglass, it is still a worthy option. It doesn’t corrode or rust, and it can maintain its shape and integrity quite well, especially when used correctly. It is also more budget-friendly compared to other types of ladders.

However, it does conduct electricity because it is made out of metal. Hence, there may be limitations to its uses and applications.

Most Popular Ladder Brands

Now that you have a bit of background on the basic things you must consider when shopping for ladders, we can look at the leading manufacturers today. Some people prefer purchasing ladders from a specific brand due to the proven credibility of the company. If this is something you want to consider as well, we rounded up the most popular ladder brands below.

Little Giant Ladder

It is one of the best and probably the most highly recognized names in the ladder manufacturing business.  Little Giant Ladder began creating ladders 30 years ago. Harold Wing, the man who started it all, got his inspiration for the first LGL ladder from a German painter. Ever since that day, the company has been developing professional-grade, multi-use ladders for both commercial and residential applications.

Werner

Werner is a popular ladder brand especially among contractors and professionals in America. Currently, the company’s HQ is located in Pennsylvania and they have been around designing and manufacturing ladders in all shapes in sizes for about 70 years.

Their hard work and solid craftsmanship have earned the trust of thousands. They claim to have integrated manufacturing and distribution lines. This means the company has total control over what happens to the ladders until they are sold. The company’s current innovation is the Edge Professional Bracing System.

Gorilla Ladders

The safety and security features of the Gorilla Ladders products are known to many. They mostly cater to customers in Australia and New Zealand but they have been slowly breaking into the international market over the years. The company prides itself from doing extensive studies and experimentations before finally creating a new model. They make sure to meet the market standards and provide their customers with top-notch items.

Louisville Ladder

Louisville is a household name, and it has been selling professional-grade ladders for 70 years. Their commitment to manufacturing high quality ladders is highly commended by many.  The company has also done a lot in terms of innovation. If you want to buy a ladder from a brand that cares a lot about innovation and customer safety, the Louisville brand is definitely a strong contender.

Telesteps

Telesteps started in 1996 with a vision to create ladders differently from the rest. The vision inspired them to develop telescopic work tools, which have gained a lot of popularity in recent times. After years of researching and testing, they managed to combine flexible telescopic operation with safety and durability.

Ladder safety certification

We all need a ladder for our everyday lives. And if you are going to buy a ladder, purchase one that comes with an authentic certification. A certified ladder is highly regarded for its quality, safety, and reliability. There are at least three ladder certifications a product manufacturer can apply for and these are:

  • Class 1-Excellent for industrial use
  • Class EN131-Excellent for light trade projects/Heavy duty
  • Class 111- Excellent for domestic use

The Class EN131 ladder is perhaps the most common type of ladder you can find in homes and offices. They can be used for all sorts of tasks. Most importantly, this type of product price is usually the most affordable option for an average buyer.

Ladder costs

It is difficult to provide a ballpark figure when it comes to the usual cost of a good quality ladder. This is because each customer has a set of considerations that he/she needs to make before completing a purchase. In most cases, multi-purpose ladders are the most costly type because of the numerous functionalities and features that they offer. The cheapest ones are those made from plastic and steel.

Take note that you should not only look at the item’s price tag when you buy. Check all the details provided and ask questions when needed to find the most suitable choice for you.

Verdict

After reading this guide, buying a first or second a ladder always boils down to the following questions:

  • Where do you want to use the ladder?
  • What projects will you be working on?
  • How much weight will you put on the ladder?
  • What is the maximum height you want to reach?
  • What key features are you looking for?
  • Do you have a preferred brand?
  • How much is your budget?

If you have answers to those questions, choosing a ladder won’t be that hard for you. We hope the article answered most of your questions and guided you to choose the best ladder in 2020.

Paul King

I have an unhealthy obsession with contracting and renovation. I’ve been a contractor for over 15 years and I love tackling challenging projects to make them look amazing.