Working on the stairs always adds a layer of difficulty to any project. The reality is that, no matter how difficult working on the stairs can be, sometimes there just aren’t any options and you need to get it done.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tools that can make using a stairs a lot easier and safer. Adjustable stair ladders are one of the most important innovations for working safely on a staircase. While they might not work in every situation, having one can make your work a lot easier.
You need to know that you can trust the ladder under you, no matter where it’s set up. That’s why we’ve put together this list of the best adjustable ladders for stairs. We’ve also included a buying guide at the end of the article to help you decide which ladder is the best option for you.
This Little Giant Ladders adjustable ladder might not be what most people think of when they first think of an adjustable stair ladder, but that’s actually a good thing. This ladder is a multiposition ladder which can fit a multitude of different situations.
The mobility and flexibility of this ladder work well together for stairs since you can customize the position of the ladder a lot more than a standard stair ladder. It’s a good option for traditional and non-traditional staircase designs as well.
Being able to adapt to more than one kind of staircase is an important feature for contractors that tend to work in public buildings. Architects are a lot more likely to play with different design features, including stairs, in public spaces. Having a ladder that can adjust to lots of different styles of stair cuts down on the number of ladders you’ll need for your job.
This ladder is also relatively long, 22ft at its maximum extension. That’s plenty of space to reach even the highest indoor areas safely. Since the ladder is made from an aluminum alloy it’s a lightweight option.
The aluminum construction does mean that the ladder is a little less durable and long-lasting than fiberglass options. However, solid construction and a lot of additional support features all work together to make this ladder one of the better aluminum options out there.
Why we like it
This ladder is a genuinely multi-purpose, hard-wearing, heavy-duty ladder without being incredibly heavy or difficult to work with. This ladder would be one of our go-to options for most jobs, which makes it even more appealing as a flexible ladder designed to handle stairs.
Sometimes you don’t need a huge boost. When a taller ladder would get in the way, the Little Giant Ladders Select Step is a great option. The 6-10 ft range on this ladder is just about perfect for indoor residential use, since it gets you tall enough to access lifted ceilings but isn’t so tall that it’s hard to use.
The design also uses all of Little Giant Ladder’s stability innovations to help make the select step a significantly easier ladder to use. The same design elements, like having four legs on the front of the ladder instead of two, also make this ladder more durable and long-lasting.
The added air deck accessory port is also great for holding onto tools, paint, and any other materials you need at the top of the ladder. It’s lifted to help keep your materials accessible and is relatively easy to set up and take down when you don’t need it.
This step ladder also has a relatively high weight capacity for its size, which is fantastic anytime you’re working construction or remodeling the space above the stairs.
Like all Little Giant Ladders, this design meets or exceeds all OSHA safety standards, and it’s relatively flexible design works well for most staircases as well.
Why we like it
This design is compatible with most residential stair designs, is easy to use, and incredibly stable. The aluminum is lighter compared to fiberglass, and wheels on the bottom of this design make it easy to transport and adjust ladder position. All in all, a great short stepladder for contractors and other professionals.
Another Little Giant Ladders model, Dark Horse is a middle length ladder designed to meet similar standards as both the Velocity and the Select Step ladders. At 11-19ft long it’s good for residential homes with taller ceilings and tall stairwells, as well as for most office and commercial buildings.
The design comes in Type IA, which has a maximum capacity of 300lbs. That’s a great capacity when you’re looking to be able to bring some painting, cleaning, or construction supplies up the ladder with you.
It also comes with the Little Giant Ladders stability and durability design features that help them create an incredibly stable ladder with lighter and more affordable aluminum alloy instead of fiberglass.
This design’s wide flared base also adds extra stability over pretty much any ladder alternative in its size and price range.
However, there may be some visibility issues because of the paint job on this ladder if you’re planning to use it in rooms with dark floors or walls, or at twilight outside. The dark paint looks bright and vibrant against almost any color, but it can start to fade into shadows and dark backdrops despite the bright rungs.
Since its design is lighter than most fiberglass ladders the Dark Horse is also a lot easier to move and transport, not to mention adjusting its position while you’re working.
Why we like it
This fiberglass version of a Little Giant Ladders model is the best of both worlds since it combines great ladder design with a more durable material. The result is a ladder that will easily last for years to come, works in a wide range of situations, and isn’t difficult to transport from jobsite to jobsite.
If you’re looking for a ladder that can handle curved staircases and other custom designs, you might be looking for the Revolution.
This ladder is another Little Giant Ladders model, but the addition of ratcheting legs that are mobile and highly adjustable makes it a great option for spaces where a traditional ladder wouldn’t be safe. You can work with uneven flooring and even place legs on two different stairs, whatever you need to make the ladder level and secure.
The level design is especially impressive when you consider that the ladder still has a heavy-duty Type IA rating or 300lbs maximum weight capacity.
At 17ft tall this ladder is a good option for public buildings and even residential homes and buildings with high ceilings. It’s also good for working on outdoor staircases, hills, and anywhere you need a lift on uncertain terrain.
The ratchet leveling system on this ladder is fairly easy to use and doesn’t need much additional maintenance, making it a good option even for people who are looking for a much simpler ladder design.
Why we like it
Overall this ladder is an incredibly adjustable option that works well for almost any situation. Unlike most ladders, it’s more adaptable to uneven flooring. Its incredibly stable design is also great for detailed work, even on flat surfaces, making this a good all-around ladder.
This Werner ladder uses a lot of the same design principles that make Little Giant Ladders’ models great, but with the addition of a telescoping design that makes this ladder much easier to store and transport. This is a great option for professionals whose work trucks are getting a little too full and anyone looking to store more of their tools in a smaller area. The telescoping design allows the ladder to collapse into a smaller area, making it easier to move between job sites, and even between different projects on the same job.
The biggest downside of telescoping ladders is that they are generally considered a little less stable and tend to have more failure points that can shorten the life of the ladder. But, that isn’t a huge problem with Werner ladders since they’re designed to be solid and long-lasting, and this model will still last for years of regular use as long as you don’t do anything the ladder isn’t designed to handle.
Why we like it
Werner is one of the best professional tools manufacturers out there, so it shouldn’t be a surprise that they have a fantastic adjustable ladder for staircases. This design is highly adjustable, incredibly secure, and works well in a lot of places other ladders can’t handle.
Adjustable Stair Ladder Buyer’s Guide
Working on stairs can be a difficult proposition but having a great adjustable ladder will help you make it easier, safer, and let you get done with your latest project faster. Here’s what you should look for in a great ladder for stairs.
Weight can be more of a limiting factor on stairs than in other situations because the more weight you put on the stairs the more likely you are to slide or move on the stair. It’s important to try and keep the weight of your ladder to a minimum, remembering that the stairs you’re working on have to be able to hold you, the ladder, and any additional materials or tools you’re using.
Generally, 50lbs or less is ideal. That’s good because those weights are also where ladders are easiest to move and maneuver, and needing to reposition your ladder on the stairs is also incredibly common.
The minimum useful working height on stairs is typically about 6ft. If you need a ladder longer than 20-25ft for your project you may be better off figuring out if a lift system or tool extensions would work for the job you need to do.
Remember, even on the stairs you want to have a little bit of extra height to help handle angles and height lost when you’re setting up the ladder.
Adjustability and Stability
The more adjustable a ladder is the more likely it’ll be able to work on stairs well and stably. However, the more connection points, joints, and other sections of your ladder that move and rotate, the more weak points your ladder is likely to have.
Look for ladders that offer more stabilizers and position options for fewer joints and connections. Adjustable legs are one of the biggest advantages on a ladder for stairs, so you may want to prioritize adjustable legs over a folding, telescoping, or extendable design.
Aluminum is usually the most common option for stair ladders because fiberglass is heavier and harder to maneuver. Aluminum designs are also usually more adjustable, which is important for working on stairs.
However, a lightweight fiberglass design will also work and is likely to last longer and will be slightly more stable and safer for longer.
While all of the ladders on this list are incredibly effective ladders for most staircases, we have to say that the Little Giant Ladders Velocity is our winner for this list thanks to it’s incredibly durable and flexible design, reasonable price point, and the ease of moving this ladder from place to place. If we had to pick the best ladder to handle the widest range of situations and staircases, this would be our pick.
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.