There are many different styles, materials and uses of ladders. With all the options out there, how do decide what is right for your home. In this article I will explain the advantages and disadvantages of several of the main ladder types, to help you make an informed buying decision for your home.
There are three materials in which most ladders are made from. Each of these materials offer specific benefits and will behave differently depending on the use.
Ladders made with Aluminum offer a lightweight and strong alternative to other ladder types. The benefits to this are obvious, allowing for transportation and use of the ladder with ease. The aluminum ladder is also resistant to most normal wear and tear gained by ladders made of other materials. Aluminum also does not need coating and will not crack like it's wooden counterpart.
Disadvantages: Aluminum ladders can not be used in situations involving intense heat or electricity due to its conductive nature.
The wood ladder is the traditional ladder type. Most wood ladders are made of a combination of hardwoods and softwoods, which result in a very strong ladder. Wood ladders also do not conduct electricity, so they can be used in places where aluminum ladders can not.
Disadvantages: Wood ladders tend to get very heavy compared to their aluminum counterpart. In addition, they need a varnish to help preserve the life of the wood. Wood ladders are also susceptible to aging such as cracks and rot.
Fiberglass ladders are the newest form of ladder. Fiberglass is a man-made material that, like wood, does not conduct electricity when dry. Fiberglass is also a very dense material, and can be exposed to high temperatures for short periods of time without weakening and will generally regain its previous strength once removed from the heat. Fiberglass also does not crack or rot such as wood when left outside in certain weather.
While fiberglass seems to combine the advantages of both aluminum and wood ladders, it also has unique disadvantages. The density of fiberglass makes these ladders very heavy, heavier than wood and aluminum. In addition fiberglass can crack when under great pressure or impact.
Knowing these specific advantages and disadvantages to ladder types, you can now asses what type is right for you. Ask yourself questions such as: Will I be doing a lot of ladder work outside? Will I be working near power lines? Will I have another person there to help me carry and setup the ladder?
Once you answer these questions you can see what type of ladder lends itself to your specific needs. And always, if you are not sure how to safely use your ladder, make sure you consult an expert.