Most people do not even consider ladders until they need one. Then they pull out whatever ladder that they can find to do the job, even if it is the wrong one. There are many different types of ladders, with differing lengths, duty ratings, and materials. The key is to find the one or ones that are right for what you need it for to ensure that you will be as safe as possible and be able to complete your project. Whether you are working on the roof, painting inside the house, changing light bulbs, or trimming trees, you want to be sure you have the right ladder for the job. What do you need to consider when choosing a ladder?
Length. Ladders come in all different lengths, from step ladders to adjustable ladders. By considering what you are using the ladder for or what you may use it for in the future, you can determine what size that you need to purchase. The rule of thumb for stepladders is adding four feet to the maximum height that you want to reach. For example, if you want to be able to reach 16-feet, you will want a 12-foot ladder. For extension ladders, you want to buy one long enough to reach the gutter or support point and include at least 3-foot above the roof line to make sure that you can get on the roof safely and easily.
You need to consider where you are going to use it. If you are going to use it inside, you can only get a ladder so tall, while if you are using it outside, you can get a taller one to use for several different types of projects. A ladder that is too short where you have to stretch to do work can be dangerous, so you want to carefully consider what size you need before purchasing. You will probably need two ladders at least, one stepladder and one to use for other projects outside.
Duty Rating. The duty rating is the weight that a ladder can safely hold and this includes the person getting on the ladder and the materials that they are using. The rating depends upon what type of activity that you are going to use the ladder for. A light duty ladder will work for painting, yard work, and chores around the house, like changing a light bulb, etc. and it is rated for 200-lbs. A medium duty ladder is rated at 225-lbs and is for light commercial work, cleaning, and light repairs. For building, maintenance, dry walling, and general contracting, you will want to choose a heavy duty ladder that is rated for 250-pounds. For heavier work, like roofing, building, and industrial construction, an extra heavy duty ladder rated at 300-lbs is best. By considering what you are going to be doing, you can determine what duty rating of ladder that you need and want.
Materials. Ladders come in a few different materials, including wood, fiberglass, and aluminum. The most inexpensive ladders are made of wood and they are good for a number of different projects, including painting, doing light chores, and yard work. They are non-conductive when clean and dry, as well, which means that you can use them for light electrical projects, like changing a light bulb, installing a ceiling fan, etc. An aluminum ladder is strong, lightweight, and corrosion resistant and if you are only buying one ladder, this material is the one you want to choose. A fiberglass ladder is electrically non-conductive, and strong. Most professionals use this type of ladder, due to its strength.
While it may seem confusing to purchase a ladder, it doesn’t have to be. By evaluating your present needs and your future needs, you will be able to better narrow down your choice. Whether you are doing some heavy-duty work, like roofing or building, or light work, like painting or changing light bulbs, you want to consider what you need. Most people need at least two ladders, a stepladder to use inside and an extension ladder to use outside. This will allow you to take care of basic needs in and around your home without purchasing a ladder that you will never use or that will be too big to handle.