Ladder Weight Ratings – How To Choose the Right Ladder For Your Next Project

If you are in the market for a new ladder, it makes sense to look at a variety of different factors – and we don’t just mean the cost. Are you unsure how to choose the right ladder for your particular project?

Ladder weight ratings are extremely important to consider no matter the type of job or project you have in mind. After all, some ladders can hold more weight than others – and it pays to know which will work best for you before you go ahead and buy one.

Let’s take a closer look at what ladder weight ratings actually are, and why it’s so important to check this score when shopping for your ideal support.

What is the Ladder Weight Rating? 

Simply put, the ladder weight rating, or the duty rating, is the amount of weight that the ladder can safely hold and withstand.

It’s easy to assume that one ladder will likely be the same as the next when it comes to the jobs they do. However, this actually isn’t the case – some ladders are ideal for small-scale painting jobs, for example, while others can withstand heavier pressures of large-scale construction jobs.

It is important to remember that a ladder’s duty rating is the amount of weight that it can hold safely – in total. That counts the user, their clothes, their tools, and anything else that they may be carrying with them. By going over the weight of the intended purpose of the ladder, the user risks the ladder breaking beneath them, and therefore, risks their own safety and that of those around them. 

It is essential to ensure that you check the ladder weight rating on the side before assuming that the ladder looks strong enough, or made of a strong enough material, to handle the weight. Aluminum or fiberglass ladders may look strong enough initially, but without that weight rating, you can never be sure.

Many of us tend to assume that the bigger the ladder, the stronger it is, but that simply isn’t the case, either. 

What Should I Look For in My Ladder’s Weight Rating?

The reason for which you intend to use your ladder will help you to better determine the strength that you need. For example, if you intend to use your ladder for construction or roofing tasks, and intend to have multiple people using it, with tools of various weights, then you will need the strongest ladder possible. 

Consider all of the tools that are kept on the ladder, the different workers and their weights, protective clothing, boots, etc – it all adds up.

Adding all of this up is all in the name of safety. As well as learning how to use a ladder on stairs safely, for example, you need to first buy a ladder you know is going to be safest given your needs and wants.

If you are unsure about the general weight rating that you will need, then it is better to go for a higher weight rate than a lower one. If you’re just getting started learning how to choose the right ladder, trust us – you need to start with weight ratings.

Why Are Ladder Weight Ratings Important?

It’s your ladder’s max capacity – pure and simple. Ladders are only so strong and so durable, and going beyond the manufacturer’s limit simply isn’t wise. Frankly, it’s the difference between life and death in a worst-case scenario!

By adding more weight than the ladder can actually hold, you run the risk of the ladder breaking, thus endangering you and everyone surrounding you. It’s health and safety 101.

Lighter weight ratings indicate that your chosen tool is ideal for jobs where you only need a handful of simple tools, or that it is you alone likely to be using it.

Heavier weight ratings, however, indicate that they are better for heavy-duty work at height, such as roofing, machinery installations and more.

Every ladder has a weight rating – so make sure to check before you buy.

What Are the Current Ladder Weight Rating Categories? 

There are currently five ladder weight rating categories: 

Type III (also known as light-duty)Can only hold up to 200 pounds (this type of weight rating is primarily used for lightweight jobs).
Type II (medium-duty)Can hold up to 225 pounds
Type I (heavy-duty)Can hold up to 250 pounds (this type of ladder is used for general purposes and is commonly used by the everyday DIY person). 
Type IA (extra heavy-duty)Can hold up to 300 pounds (this type of ladder is geared more towards professionals, although it is rugged, it is not the strongest ladder).
Type IAA (extra, extra heavy-duty)Can hold up to 375 pounds (this one, of course, can hold the maximum weight and is geared towards professionals who have particularly strenuous jobs). 

Each ladder should have a label on the side noting its weight rating. They also typically come with star ratings, one-star referencing the lowest quality, and five representing the maximum. Try and balance these two ratings when choosing the perfect fit.

It is also important to note that although the weight rating plays a key role in the use of the ladder, it does not always represent the price. Naturally, professional standard ladders tend to be on the more expensive side; however, the weight rating can be lower and still be more expensive (due to material, brand, where you buy it from, and more). 

However, never buy the lightweight rating simply because it appears to be cheaper. For example, if you buy a Type III and you really need a Type I, then it’s going to start buckling. It’s not worth the risk.


Choosing the right ladder for your next project is all about math. Think about the people who are likely to use said ladder, the items they need, and if they are going to need to carry up or hoist down heavy-duty fittings or otherwise.

The best step ladders for indoor use may only be Type III or Type II, however, think about what you are actually going to use your tool for. Trust us – you are going to need to err on the side of caution, and go for a heavy-duty ladder if you are in any doubt whatsoever.

So – when buying a new ladder, always look at ladder weight ratings, materials, types and sizes – it’s easier than it seems!