What to Consider Before Choosing a Ladder

Ladders are a common everyday tool in construction and manufacturing companies. Even homeowners use them every now and again. As popular as they are, it’s easy to assume that purchasing a ladder when the need arises is pretty much an open and shut case.

This couldn’t be further from truth. Selecting the wrong ladder for the task can be dangerous and compromise the user’s safety. Whether you’re looking for a step ladder, speciality or pull down ladder, there are factors you must keep in mind to get the right tool for the job.

Let’s get right into it.

Style of Ladder

Ladders are available in different styles. These include anything from basic to extension ladders. Some of them are designed for specific jobs. This is why your first step must be to decide on the type of style you want for the project in question. Examples include:

  • Step ladders: These are ideally suited for basic quick jobs around the home like changing a light bulb.
  • A-frame ladders: These are ideal if you want a ladder that provides you with stable clearance for longer tasks like trimming hedges.
  • Telescoping ladders: These can either be collapsed or extended, depending on the height of the platform you want to reach.

Usability Features

Still on the subject of ladder style, you must consider the unit’s usability features to match the project. We list a few examples:

  • Location: Do you want a ladder to use inside or outside a building? You’ll need an attic or pull down ceiling ladder to use indoors and maybe a trestle ladder for more specialised tasks outdoors. The wrong ladder might have certain limitations for the intended user, resulting in falls. So consider your most common tasks and shop accordingly.
  • Angle: Do you want a ladder with a steep or regular angle? Attic ladders are steeper than stair ladders because the latter feature a flatter angle.
  • Extra security features: Some ladders include extra features such as handrails that are additional safety features. This will come in handy if you want to climb the ladder while carrying items in one hand—simply place the other hand on the rail to maintain balance.

Material of Ladder

After deciding on the desired style, you must check the material used to make the ladder. This influences aspects such as durability, performance and safety.

Ideally you must pick a sturdy and robust ladder made of superior materials. Different ladders are made of different materials but the most common are:

  • Aluminium: Aluminium ladders are lightweight for easy transportation and handling. They are also durable and inexpensive which you’ll appreciate if you’re working on a budget.
  • Wood: Wood has its pros and cons but generally ladders made of wood are better suited for small tasks around the home. Wood ladders aren’t recommended for heavy duty tasks at construction sites. This is because wood is prone to premature damage caused by termites, moisture, or temperatures changes.
  • Fiberglass: Ladders made from fibreglass are equally popular. They last even longer than aluminium ladders and are considered to be the safest option. Also, they are more weather and flame resistant. However, these ladders don’t come cheap.
  • Stainless steel: Ladders made of stainless steel are widely used in construction and manufacturing industries. Stainless steel ladders are extremely durable, not to mention slip-resistant making them some of the safest options.

Height of Ladder

Before deciding on a ladder to buy, you must consider its height in relation to the platform you want to reach. To pick a ladder with the correct reach, you can make reference to the ladder’s height safety chart provided by the manufacturer.

The height of the ladder for the intended task depends on the style you pick. A ladder should give you a maximum safe reaching height which is approximately four feet higher than the height of the ladder.

Weight Capacity

Along with height, it’s important to consider the weight capacity of the ladder. The correct ladder must support your worker’s weight together with his or her tools.

Take your cue from the duty rating specified on the ladder in question. This rating indicates the weight the ladder can safely support. The right duty rating should be higher than the total weight of a fully clothed worker plus tools he or she is carrying.

Final Words

Selecting the correct ladder for the task is important whether you’re using it around the home or for professional use. Always purchase your ladder from reputable suppliers that won’t offer sub-standard products made of flimsy materials.

Even after deciding on the ladder to buy, make sure you know how to use it. Most people take ladders for granted regarding usage. This is why accidents with ladders are very common. Over 160 000 people are treated for injuries caused by falls from ladders each year.

With that said, do you now have what it takes to pick the correct ladder to ensure your safety?