Ladders are undoubtedly one of the most important tools that you can possess as a homeowner. They are very useful in applications where you would need to reach areas that are above 7 feet in height, whether for maintenance, cleaning or painting. A ladder that is properly matched with the project will not only make it easier for you to complete the project, but you can also complete the project with minimum risk of injuries. Ladder injuries account for roughly 175,000 emergency-room visits each year, and though a portion of it can be blamed on human error, the faulty designs of ladders also account for a significant portion of it. After much searching, the top pick for the best ladder was chosen to be the 12.5′ Aluminum Telescopic/Telescoping Loft Ladder Extension Extendable Portable.
This ladder has secured the top spot on the Best Seller List on Amazon. This ladder is capable of retracting completely, and when this ladder is extended, it locks completely by the foot. The ladder is very easy to close thanks to the no pinch closure system. The ladder has a carrying handle integrated in the design which would make it easy for you to carry the ladder around. If you want to spend some more on buying a ladder, you can buy the Xtend & Climb 785P Aluminum Telescoping Ladder Type I Professional Series.
The ladder is made out of aerospace engineered aluminum alloy to give it extra strength and it is rated by ANSI and OSHA. The ladder locks by the foot and is easy to extend to whatever height you need to work at. The integrated carrying handle and closure strap ensures that the ladder can be carried anywhere, and easily stored in the garage or in the back of the truck when it is not being used. If your budget for buying a ladder is not very high, then do not despair as there are plenty of decent choices for a ladder for your price point, and you can consider buying Louisville Ladder AS2106 250-Pound Duty Rating Aluminum Stepladder. The ladder is rated to hold a weight of 250 pounds including the weight of the user and the tools. The ladder has the unique ‘Pro Top’ design which has features to improve your performance whether you are working on a residential, electrical or construction jobs. It has a holder for a pipe, a paint bucket holder, a magnetic tray and drill and tool slots, just to name a few.
Possible injuries from a ladder fall
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics 20% of all occupational incidents involve falls and falls from ladders are the second most frequent source of injuries that involve falling down from a height, after falling down the stairs. As published in a paper in industrialized countries, 1-2% of all occupational injuries somehow involves ladders. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has determined that among construction workers ladders are a major source of injuries and fatalities, and some may be serious enough to require time off from work. Ladder fall injuries (LFIs) that are related to work accounted for 113 fatalities and according to a study released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) LFIs represent a substantial public health burden of preventable injuries from workers. Fracture is the most common injury that can be sustained from LFI according to the paper, with twenty one of fifty nine patients studied sustaining =1 fracture, which usually involved an extremity (77%). Other primary injuries included sprain or strain, contusion, laceration and abrasion. Structured telephone interviews were conducted of the patients in order to know about the reason behind their fall. It was discovered that most of the falls resulted from incorrect ladder placement across both the occupational and non-occupational settings, with excessive reaching cited as another major reason. Slipping from the rung of the ladder was also cited as a reason. Using the correct ladder for the correct project can significantly bring down the injuries sustained from a ladder fall.
Types of ladders
‘ Step ladders- These are the most commonly used ladder in the industry. Step ladders are capable of supporting themselves, which means that these can be used in the middle of a room, or underneath a tree for trimming and other places where a support for a ladder is not available. There are two major varieties of step ladders, one variety will just allow you to climb in the front part of the ladder, with the back part just there for support. The second variety will allow you to climb from either side of the ladder, front or back, depending on which side would be more convenient for your purposes.
‘ Extension ladders- Also known as ‘straight’ ladders, extension ladders are the first thing that comes to mind when one talks about a ladder. Extension ladders are used to reach high places and must be leaned against a support such as a wall, house or a tree before it can be used. Most extension ladders consist of two parts, the ‘base’ is the main piece of the ladder and must have a firm footing on the ground. The second part is known as the ‘fly’ and this is the part that moves around and allows the ladder to reach great heights. The sliding of the fly is usually facilitated by using ropes or hooks.
‘ Platform ladders- A platform ladder is a ladder which has steps only on the front side, with the ladder ending on a platform at the top. Platform ladders make it more comfortable for you to work when you are standing at the top of the ladder. This kind of ladder is best used in projects which require the use of both hands as if you were standing on the ground itself. Using a platform ladder gives you the ability to rotate around and work in whichever direction you need to, thus making your work faster and safer.
‘ Multi-purpose ladders- A ladder that is able to perform two or more tasks of the aforementioned ladders is termed as a multi-purpose ladder. This type of ladder is very useful as it is able to change into so many different positions. This gives the user a variety of options in completing various projects around the house. The multi-purpose ladder can be opened up to form a step ladder so that you can climb it and make it fully self-supportable. The ladder can also be extended to perform the function of an extended ladder, but you need to make sure that the ladder rests on firm support. The multi-purpose can be completely closed so that it makes it easy to store the ladder when not in use.
‘ Telescoping ladders- A telescoping ladder has the ability to slide in and out to adjust in size with the help of overlapping sections. The ladder extends fully to perform the functions of an extended ladder and can then shrink to form a very compact and portable ladder. Multipurpose ladders and step ladders also have the telescoping properties.
‘ Folding ladders- Folding ladders can be folded up when not being used so that they are very easy to be stored when not in use. These ladders are normally used for small tasks inside the house. Folding ladders usually have large steps instead of the skinny ones that are usually found on the other types of ladders. These ladders are also lightweight, which makes them perfect contenders to be used inside the house.
Selecting the right ladder
When you are in the market trying to find the right ladder for your job, the first thing that you should think about is the issue of safety. If you are buying a step ladder, according to Ladder Buying Guide from Lowe’s you should stand no higher than two steps down from the top of the ladder. This means that a 5 ‘ foot person with a vertical reach of 1 foot can safely access a point that is 4 feet beyond the ladder. If you are planning to buy an extension ladder, the ladder needs to be several feet taller than the height which you intend to reach. For an extension ladder, the highest safe standing level is four rungs from the top of the ladder. The sections on the extension ladder that overlap must do so at least 3 feet on ladders that are up to 36 feet in length, and overlap at least 5 feet for longer ladders. The ladder needs to be placed at the correct angle for it to be used safely. A good rule of thumb is that the base of the ladder must be out by 1 foot for every 4 feet of height to the intended work zone. If the ladder is resting against a roof line or similar surfaces, the top of the ladder needs to extend 3 feet beyond the point where the ladder is being supported. So when you are buying an extension ladder you should look for one that will extend 7 to 10 feet beyond the highest point that the ladder will rest against. You should also keep in mind that every ladder is designed for a certain amount of weight and level of usage. The duty rating which is posted on the ladder will provide this piece of information. The table below provides the information.
Household Duty (general household use): Type 3, Max Weight 200 lbs.
Professional Duty (commercial painter, handyman, etc.): Type 2, Max Weight 225 lbs.
Commercial Duty (industrial applications): Type 1, Max Weight 250 lbs.
Industrial Duty (industrial applications): Type 1A, Max Weight 300 lbs.
Special Duty (high-impact industrial/professional use): Type 1AA, Max Weight 375 lbs.
Another important factor to keep in mind when you are buying a ladder is the material with which the ladder is constructed out of, and whether it will be compatible with the project for which you are buying the ladder. Most ladders are constructed out of aluminum, fiberglass or wood. Ladders that are made out of aluminum are lightweight and hence very portable and will not corrode easily. However such ladders should not be used near applications that require handling electricity, like near power lines or electrical wiring. Ladders constructed out of fiberglass are quite strong and durable, with the added advantage that the material is non-conductive, which means that this ladder can be safely used near power lines. Wood ladders will also not conduct electricity but some can have metal fasteners which will make them unsuitable to be used for this application. It is best to leave the wooden ladders unpainted so that if there are any defects on the ladder, it can easily be noticed.
According to Ladder Buying Guide from Home Depotyou need to take some safety precautions when you are climbing up the ladder.
‘ Use both hands facing the ladder when you are climbing up the ladder.
‘ Carry the tools and materials that you will require to complete the project in a belt, apron or pouch.
‘ When you need to pull up large, heavy or awkward objects make use of a rope and bucket.
‘ Never lean off the side of the ladder.
‘ When there are high winds avoid using the ladder.
‘ When you are using a step ladder make sure that the ladder is open with all the hinges locked.
‘ When using an extension ladder or an adjustable ladder double check that the locks are secured.
‘ Regularly inspect the ladders that you are using for loose rungs, cracks, dents or sharp edges.
‘ A ladder that is damaged or is unsafe and in any other way should never be used.
‘ Make sure that the base of the ladder is staying on solid and level surface before you start to climb.
‘ Never put the base of the ladder on ice or snow, or on a wet surface.
‘ Make sure you do not put load that exceeds the duty rating of the ladder.
The top pick
12.5′ Aluminum Telescopic/Telescoping Loft Ladder Extension Extendable Portable
The Telescopic/Telescoping Loft Ladder Extension has a maximum height of 12.5′ and a minimum height of 3.5′. The ladder is capable of supporting a weight of 330 lbs./150 kg. The ladder has a total of 12 steps and is made out of aluminum as the name suggests. You can use this ladder to access your lofts, clean windows, for doing a variety of maintenance work on your building, for painting and decorating the interior and the exterior of the building and for many other types of projects. The rungs of the ladder can be locked together, making it possible to compress the whole ladder into a form that can be stored very easily when the ladder is not being used. The carrying handle that is integrated with the ladder and the ladder weighs only 21.2 pounds which provides a very easy and comfortable way to carry the ladder around. The end of the ladder has non-slip caps which not only protects your floor from getting scratched by the aluminum ends of the ladder, but also provides a firm grip on the base of the ladder on which the whole load of the ladder can rest safely. The 12 steps in the ladder are adjustable in 1 foot increments which makes it very useful in handling any project. When you are using this ladder, you need to keep in mind that only one rung of the ladder can be lowered at a time.
The runner up
Xtend & Climb 785P
The Xtend & Climb 785P Telescoping Ladder is a heavy-duty ladder that is used by commercial contractors and serious do-it-yourselfers. The ladder extends to a maximum height of 15.5′ and it extends in 1 foot increments. When you are not using the ladder, it can contract to a length of 36 ‘ inches making it possible to store the ladder virtually anywhere. The ladder comes with an integrated soft carrying handle and the ladder weighs 36 pounds, which makes it very easy to carry around. The telescoping ladder features an ergonomic design and it extends and locks by the foot, saving you time when you are trying to extend the ladder. The ladder is designed with safety in mind with the inclusion of red/green tabs which indicate when the rungs of the ladder is locked into place and it is safe to climb the ladder. There is an angled thumb release on the ladder which provides a guide for proper positioning of the hand while carrying the ladder. The ladder has rubber caps at the ends which ensures that the ladder will rest firmly on the ground while you are on top of the ladder carrying out your project without any worries.
The ladder needs to be turned upside down and the bottom needs to be pulled out until a length of about 5’ is reached. After that the ladder needs to be turned again and then extended the rest of the way.
The other picks
The ladder for improved performance: Louisville Ladder AS2106
Louisville Ladder AS2106
The exclusive “Pro Top” feature that is included by the manufacturer in the AS2106 has been designed to improve the performance of the worker. The Pro Top is equipped with spaces for holding drills, fasteners, other hand tools and even a bucket of paint, making this stepladder an excellent choice if you are working electrical, construction and residential jobs. This stepladder is perfect for people with short to medium height. The aluminum stepladder is able to hold a weight of 250 pounds, in fact each of the steps of the ladder has been built to withstand 250 pounds of pressure. Each of the steps are grooved to ensure that maximum traction is provided while the person moves up and down the ladder. The heavy-duty spreaders integrated in the ladder not only helps the ladder to unfold smoothly, but also prevents the ladder from wobbling while you are climbing up or down the ladder. The ladder has angled feet that are made of aluminum with thick rubber caps on all four legs to ensure that a firm footing is established. If safety is your priority when you are buying a ladder, you can rest easy knowing that the AS2106 meets or exceeds the safety standards set by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) and the OSHA.
The ladder with different functions: Best Choice Products SKY528
Best Choice Products SKY528
The multi purpose folding ladder has 7 different functions, which means you will always have some use for the ladder. The ladder can be used as a telescoping ladder, twin stepladder, stairway stepladder, and as two scaffold bases. You can use the ladder to access the balcony or the roof of your house, clean your windows, and also get the interior or exterior of your house painted or decorated. When fully extended, the ladder measures 12.5′ in length and in compact form the ladder measures 10.75″(L)’14.75″(W)’39.75″(H) making it very easy to store. The ladder is capable of supporting a weight of 330 pounds. The hinges in this ladder are smooth. The ladder is constructed out of extra thick all-rustproof aluminum alloy which provides durability and the safety lock and rubber protective pads at the bottom ensures that the ladder is safe for you to climb and complete your work without any worries.
Ladder with ultimate in strength, safety and versatility: Little Giant Ladder Systems 14010-001
Little Giant Ladder Systems 14010-001
You can replace all your old ladders with the 24 in 1 Little Giant Alta-One ladder. You will get the ultimate in strength, versatility and safety with the ladder. The ladder is designed to be safe, and since the ladder is adjustable, you can use the ladder on docks, curbs, stairs, ramps and other uneven surfaces. The ladder is rated to support 250 pounds of weight which makes it perfect to be used by medium-sized jobs and is made out of heavy-wall, 6005-T5 aluminum, the very same metal that is used in aerospace construction. The Little Giant Alta-One ladder combines 24 different combinations of ladder use in one model, with the possibility of the ladder being used in different configurations. The Little Giant can be used as a traditional A-Frame ladder simply with the click of the patented hinge, it can be used on uneven surfaces thanks to the adjustable one-foot increments that the ladder will allow you to do. You can also use the Little Giant as a 90′ ladder, making it very easy to work against vertical surfaces, the Little Giant can be used as a safe extension ladder and you can pull the Little Giant apart to form two scaffold trestles on which you can add the Little Giant work plank, which is sold separately, to form a convenient scaffolding system.
The light yet strong ladder: Flip-N-Lite 300-Pound Duty Rating 6-foot Stepladder
Flip-N-Lite 300-Pound Duty Rating 6-foot Stepladder
The 6-foot Stepladder weighs just 14 pounds, making the ladder very portable, and yet the ladder is constructed out of heavy-duty materials and can support a weight of up to 300 pounds. The ladder can be opened with the help of just one hand with the rungs on the ladder being deep and comfortable with a big and secure standing platform. The standing platform measures 14.25 inches’12 inches and it provides heel-to-toe support of the foot thus eliminating foot pain and fatigue and allowing you to work in total comfort. The ladder also offers a tall handrail which adds even more stability and comfort, with a handy tool tray allowing you to work without worrying where you have kept your tools.
The ladder for any project around the home: Light Weight Multi-Purpose 12′ Aluminum Ladder
Light Weight Multi-Purpose 12′ Aluminum Ladder
The ladder offers the versatility to accommodate just about any project around the home. The ladder can support a weight of up to 300 pounds, and the exclusive 3 position MULTI-LOK hinge will allow for 18-positions or applications. The ladder puts safety first as the slip-resistant and multi-directional rungs along with the slip-resistant feet ensures you will not slip as you stand on the ladder and work. The ladder is constructed out of aluminum and weighs 26.8 pounds which makes the ladder quite portable. The ladder has 16 steps which will offer you easy access to areas around your house. The 18 positions offered by the ladder includes a double stepladder, step ladder, stairwell ladder, multi-shelf, stand-off ladder, fully extended straight ladder, ‘ and ‘ length straight ladder, self-supporting scaffold, extended span scaffold and stairwell scaffold. The ladder is designed for 1- and 2-person jobs.
The fiberglass ladder: Louisville Ladder FS1506
Louisville Ladder FS1506
The FS1506 is constructed out of fiberglass and has the capability of supporting a weight of up to 300 pounds. The ladder is ideal for low and medium height jobs. Each of the steps are able to hold 300 pounds and the steps are grooved to provide maximum traction and the double rivet construction on every step provides maximum stability. The “pro top” feature will increase your productivity by giving you space to keep your tools and even your bucket of paint. Since fiberglass will not conduct electricity, the FS1506 can be safely used near live electrical circuits. The ladder includes Da Boot, which is a polypropylene copolymer that is mechanically fastened to the upper boot and provides a slip-resistant footing. The unique open design of Da Boot allows for quick and easy visual inspection.
The automatic telescoping ladder:Ollieroo 12.5ft EN131
Ollieroo 12.5ft EN131
The EN131 has a unique extend and locking mechanism with thumb buttons that click smoothly and effortlessly. The ladder is made out of anodized aluminum alloy that provides protection from corrosion and provides strength to the ladder to support a weight of up to 330 pounds. The rubber sleeve on the bottom of the ladder provides protection to the ladder from slipping and the stable locking key between two neighboring steps means you can avoid bumping and friction. The ladder can be safely used for home/building maintenance, washing windows and painting and decorating the interior and exterior of the building, among other applications.
The lightweight ladder: Cosco 20-552ABL
Having a weight of just 6.2 pounds, the Cosco 20-552ABL is definitely one of the most lightweight ladders that are available on the market. Despite its lightweight, the aluminum construction of the ladder still allows it to support a weight of 225 pounds. Both the steps and the legs of the ladder have a coating on them which will prevent you from slipping, and the large platform on the top step will allow you to work with comfort. The ladder has an integrated tray at the top which will allow you to keep your tools, thus saving you time.
Ladders are a very important equipment to have, not only in a commercial setting where it is indispensable, but also in the house for performing the various projects. The best ladder for most people is the 12.5′ Aluminum Telescopic/Telescoping Loft Ladder Extension Extendable Portable. It is extremely important to keep a note on the safety features provided by a particular ladder so that one does not end up with an injury, or worse still, end up in the hospital. Performing regular inspections of the ladder and performing the additional steps outlined on the provided user manual will ensure the ladder is in optimum condition and provides the promised performance.
Jen Miller is a former electrical engineer and product specialist with more than 20 years of product design and testing experience. She has designed more than 200 products for Fortune 500 companies, in fields ranging from home appliances to sports gear and outdoor equipment. She founded Jen Reviews to share her knowledge and critical eye for what makes consumers tick, and adopts a strict no-BS approach to help the reader filter through the maze of products and marketing hype out there. She writes regularly and has been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, The Muse, The Huffington Post, Tiny Buddha and MindBodyGreen.