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How to choose a ladder

A ladder is a handy thing to have around, whether you need to work just beyond your reach or scale taller heights to do a job. But there are several things to keep in mind when you’re choosing one.

Type

Step ladder

These are the most common types of ladders and are very useful because they support themselves. They are ideal for interior or lower level exterior projects.

Extension ladder

These two piece ladders have one stationary piece and one piece that slides up to create a taller ladder for greater reach. They’re generally used for gaining access to your roof and higher elevation work.

Multi-task ladder

Multi-task ladders offers the greatest flexibility with options to be used as a stepladder and/ or an extension ladder. These are ideal for those who want one ladder to do it all.

Articulating ladder

This ladder has legs that pivot or articulate into a variety of positions. Useful for indoor and outdoor projects, such as painting.

Height

How high do you need to climb?

The top two steps of a ladder should not be used, for safety reasons, so do not choose a ladder that is the exact height or slightly lower than you need.

For step ladders, a rule of thumb is to take the desired height you need to reach and subtract 4 ft.

For extension ladders, a rule of thumb is to take the height of the roof line/eaves and add 7’. This will account for overlap within the ladder and allow for enough length to safely get off the top of the ladder.

Weight load

Every ladder comes with a weight capacity and corresponding grade rating. You need to consider not only your weight, but also the additional weight of any tools you may be using while you’re on the ladder.

Weight

Use Ladder Grade Person + Materials
Homeowner Light Duty Grade 3 200 lbs.
Tradesman Medium Duty Grade 2 225 lbs.
Heavy Duty Industrial grade  Grade 1 250 lbs.
Extra Heavy Duty Industrial grade Type 1A 300 lbs.

Material

Aluminum

An aluminum ladder is suitable in most situations, with one important exception — electrical work should not be done on an aluminum ladder. Use a fiberglass one instead.

Fibreglass

If you will be doing any electrical work on your ladder, you must use a fiberglass ladder rather than an aluminum ladder, to avoid the risk of electrocution.

Type

Height

Weight load

Material