Falls from the Bailey Ladder are responsible for 164,000 injuries in the United States each year. More than 300 people lose their lives as a result of the accident. But that doesn’t mean you need to stop buying or using ladders. Yes, using a ladder can be dangerous, so always be careful. There is no escaping gravity.
This is the bad news.
What’s good about ladders is that they are extremely useful. Almost everyone has one in their home. We already have two, but we’d like to purchase a third, longer ladder. Ladders are required for so many household tasks and projects. Sure, they can be dangerous, but they’re far safer than chairs.
Additionally, ladders can be used for more than just changing light bulbs. The multiple uses of ladders can lead to a wide variety of ladders with different designs, purposes, and materials, making each type of ladder unique. In this comprehensive buying guide for ladders, we’ll go over each type in detail.
I. What You Need to Know Before Buying a Ladder
As the second leading cause of accidental injuries and deaths worldwide, selecting the correct ladder for your intended use is critical. The fact that different kinds of ladders are better suited for different purposes makes ladders even safer. Start with the most basic types of ladders you’ll come across.
A. Ladders of Different Types
Rigid ladders in the familiar A-shape are probably the most familiar to you. You’ll be able to find ones that can be carried from one location to another as needed. On the exterior of a building, you’ll also see them attached to an attic access. To begin, we’ll take a look at the most common types.
1. The Ladder that has steps
Because it can be used for so many different purposes, the step ladder is the most popular. You can take it wherever you need it because it is self-sustaining. Stairs or rungs that are equally spaced and connected by a top cap are the basic structure of this staircase. The design of the steps may allow you to climb on one or both sides. Climbing on both sides is possible on a twin-step ladder. Some models, on the other hand, only allow you to use one side of the ladder. Even in twin step ladders,
The front step ladder is where you will climb. The other side is only there to provide support.
Spreaders connect the two sides and limit how far they can spread out from each other. When you step on it, they lock into place to prevent the ladder from buckling. Feet, or shoes, make up the bottom half. Anti-skid material is usually attached to the end of them.
2. The Extended Range
Step ladders can only go so high before their weight becomes a problem. This is where the extension model comes in. Painting the outside of a house or fixing a roof with this tool is a breeze because of its increased height. You can extend the height of your ladder by getting the telescoping model.
These models e made up of a fly and a base. The former does not float in midair. In order to extend its range, you would use the latter portion.
This type of ladder, in contrast to the step ladder, does not support itself. If you don’t have a sturdy support, you’ll need to prop it up somewhere. Hooks or a rope and pulley system raise the fly. It will also have non-slip feet and even additional hooks on top to keep it in place.
3. The Adjustable Ladder
The step and extension models are combined in the adjustable, multipurpose ladder, increasing its adaptability. It can stand on its own or be supported by something solid. Depending on the product, it can even serve as scaffolding. A contractor or do-it-yourself handyman will do well with this option.
4. The Articulated Ladder
Another type of movable ladder is the articulated ladder, which can be adapted to the needs of the project. It’s simple to transport because of its design. They are held in place by a series of locking hinges. Because of this, they have a narrow range of heights. Because of this, it’s worth taking a look at them.
5. A Stepping Stool
Step stools come in handy when you need to reach something on the upper shelf of your kitchen cabinet but don’t want to get on the counter. You’ll only be able to get an extra foot of reach with a single-step version. Two or more steps fold up for easy storage in other types of models. Cost and convenience are the primary advantages of these products.
6. Ladder Leading To the Attic
In many cases, the attic ladder is attached to a door to gain access to the attic. They’ll be on hinges that allow them to swivel to get to the floor. They make it easy to get into this area without having to lug a ladder around the house. ” For the most part, they are identical to their permanent counterparts.
7. Ladder With A Platform Holder
For added safety, platform holders feature a guardrail and step ladders for added convenience and comfort. If you’ll be working in the same place for a long time, this model is a godsend. You’ll thank your feet for it. Both stationary and mobile with caster wheels can be found.
8. Flexible Ladders
Flexible or rope ladders have limited applications. Recreational activities like caving may make use of them. Some of these models can be used to get away from a dangerous situation. As a side note, it’s not as simple as it appears to climb one. Strength in the upper body is a must.
B. Materials to Construct Ladders
It’s important to consider the materials used to build a ladder when making a purchasing decision. Think about how you’ll use a ladder before you buy one, and you’ll be better prepared.
1. Ladders Made from Aluminum
For a variety of reasons, aluminum is an excellent choice for ladders. First, it’s powerful. It can withstand a lot of abuse and still remain intact. Second, it’s a breeze to carry. That will make a huge difference if you’re hauling one around on a regular basis. It’s finally within reach for the average person’s budget.
The United States recycles approximately 47 percent of its aluminum. The overall percentage is 34.3 percent, but this rate is much higher. Americans reuse it instead of mining it, which saves money.
However, aluminum also has a glaring drawback. Because it’s made of metal, it’s able to carry a charge. Using it near electrical equipment or wires is a big no-no. It’s not worth the risk. There are better options available elsewhere.
2. Ladders Constructed From Wood
Ladders made of wood are by far the most common and widely used. It has many of the same advantages as aluminum in terms of weight and strength. It’s a low-cost option that can be found at any hardware or home improvement store. As a result, it can be used safely in any location where a longer reach is needed.
As they are so large in size, they are also cumbersome to carry. A wooden ladder can weigh twice as much as an aluminum ladder of the same length. There is also the product’s lifespan to consider. If left outside, a wooden ladder will rot. Obviously, this cannot happen. According to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA) regulations, they cannot have any kind of opaque coating other than appropriate labeling. It’s back to the basics. To keep it out of potentially dangerous situations, its composition must be clearly visible.
3. Ladders Made From Fiber Glass
Fiberglass is a good solution to some of the drawbacks of the other models, such as the high cost. It’s durable and able to withstand rough treatment. Aluminum does not conduct electricity. It’s a long-term investment that will serve you well. For a slightly higher price, it may be worth it to take advantage of its advantages.
If you’re doing any outdoor work, this material has an additional perk that makes it worth a second look. Ladders made of aluminum reflect heat back into the room they’re in. In the middle of winter or on a hot summer day, grabbing onto a metal ladder will not be pleasant. Another thing to keep in mind is the length of the piece. These ladders become unwieldy after 25 feet
4. Ladders Made From Stainless steel
For the DIYer, steel ladders are an unusual choice. Instead, they look like something you’d find in a storage facility. They have a number of advantages, including the following. This makes them a viable option because they are durable and can handle heavy loads. However, they are both powerful and heavy. To avoid rusting, it is critical to store the item correctly.
5. Ladders Made From Plastic
Polyester resin plastic ladders with glass-fiber reinforcement are also available. They provide a less expensive option that may be appropriate in certain circumstances. Ladder construction is governed by the same rules that apply to other materials, which we’ll cover in more detail later.
C. Responsibilities and Limitations
Ladders must be labeled in a variety of ways, as you’ll discover. You’ll notice the Duty Rating, which tells you how much weight you can put on it. According to the following, they are:
D. American National Standards Institute
The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) type will be identified. Ladder design and construction regulations are overseen by the International Code Council (ICC). In addition to any specific guidelines or warnings, this regulation governs the information that must be included on the label. If you’re looking for a wooden ladder, metal ladder, or even a utility step stool, the price varies.
Numerous topics, such as testing, are addressed in their regulations. To ensure that you’re getting a ladder that meets these high standards, look for ANSI-certified products. You should have no trouble finding this information because it’s a big deal in the industry.
E. Ladder Purchasing Factors
Now, let’s get down to the nitty-gritty of what you should consider when purchasing a ladder. We’ve covered a few of the most important aspects of the topic. Some of the most critical have been discussed, such as electrical work. However, practical considerations must also be taken into account.
1. Its Uses
Making sure you have the right ladder for the job is critical to its safe use. Everyone has their own setbacks. Don’t forget that it’s there to assist you, not to endanger you. A stepladder is an affordable option if you plan to use it for simple tasks like painting. Most have a maximum reach of 14 feet.
An extension ladder may be a better investment for outdoor work than a stepladder for use inside your home. Consider how often you’ll actually use it as well. Renting one might be a better option if you only need to paint the exterior every few years.
2. The Ladder’s Length
When deciding on the length of your ladder, it’s a good idea to think about safety. For the most part, you’ll be able to reach four feet above its height. However, it doesn’t mean putting your foot on the top of a stepladder’s top cap. We’re talking about two levels down. This is where duty rating comes into play so that it doesn’t become overly top-heavy and unstable. With extension ladders, things are a little different. It’s not a question of getting the maximum height to match the length. In order to cover the portion of the gutters that must extend beyond their height, you’ll need some wiggle room. Taking into account your position on the ladder, get a ladder that is about twice as high as you need.
3. The Ladder’s weight
Weight can be both a blessing and a curse. It provides a sense of security while on a ladder, but it is also a pain to carry around the house. It all comes down to what you’re using the ladder for and what type of material you’re using. Fiberglass is the best option if electricity is a concern, but keep in mind that it’s a bit more of a beast than aluminum.
4. How Versatile is the Ladder?
In order to get the most out of your ladder purchase, you should look for one that can be used in a variety of ways. There’s no need to buy multiple types of household models if you only need one for the majority of your projects. That’s where the length of the ladder and how frequently you’ll use it can help you make a decision.
5. How to Store the Ladder
A ladder needs to be stored properly and methodically. Avoiding wear and damage that could make it unsafe to use is the goal. Folding or articulating models are convenient. In order to get a self-supporting ladder, you’ll need a fair amount of room. With an extension ladder, you can get a lot of height in a small amount of space.
Part II: More Specifics
A. OSHA Standards
According to OHSA, falls are the leading cause of construction-related fatalities. That’s why ladders have so many safety labels. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has its own set of standards for all types of ladders, including portable, fixed, and mobile stands and platforms. It’s likely that even products intended for use in the home will have their unique labeling attached.
Things like rung spacing, clearances, and imperfections on exposed surfaces are covered. Regulators have also established standards for testing and labeling for safe use. Remember that unintentional falls are responsible for nearly 32,000 deaths each year. In many cases, they could have been avoided.
B. Take care of yourself
We’ve already talked about the importance of ladder care from a safety standpoint. Think of it as a form of insurance. Look for any potential dangers, such as loose fittings or sharp edges, before you begin using it. Make sure the steps are clean and dry as well. Extra care may be needed for some types.
1. The use of lubricants
Ladders with moving parts, such as articulating ones, may require periodic lubrication. The locks of the spreaders of stepladders and the hooks or ropes of an extension ladder should also be checked regularly. Other moving parts, such as pulleys, should be cared for according to the manufacturer’s instructions. Please follow these guidelines to ensure your safety.
2. How to Dispose of Ladders
Ladders are built to withstand the test of time, thanks to ANSI regulations. However, if it is damaged, it must be repaired or removed from service as soon as possible. OHSA mandates that ladders be labeled as dangerous if they are no longer safe to use.
Break both sides of the rungs so that no one can use it, even if you intend to throw it away. Ladders made of fiberglass, steel, or aluminum should be marked with a permanent marker to ensure that no one uses them by accident.
C. Proper Application
We couldn’t talk about ladders without mentioning the importance of safe use, even for those who are able to assemble their own ladders. You can use OHSA’s advice on your next project, even if it’s outside of the workplace. The Ladder Safety Smartphone app is also available for Android and iPhone devices.
1. Choosing the Right Ladder Option
A good starting point is to make sure you have the right ladder for the task at hand. When an extension ladder is a better choice, don’t use a stepladder. There is a risk of going beyond the intended scope, which can lead to instability. When climbing a ladder, it is best to keep your weight evenly distributed between the two sides.
2. Establishing a Stable Setting
Make sure your ladder is set up safely before stepping foot on it. That means it’s firmly planted and will not move. In high traffic areas or doorways, avoid placing one inside. If that’s the case, make a point of leaving the door open or erecting a sign or cone to warn others that the area is potentially dangerous.
The spreaders on a stepladder must be fully extended and locked into place to ensure safety. Closed stepladders should never be climbed. As with a telescoping ladder, make sure it is braced properly before stepping on it. Don’t let it shake or sway. For every four feet of ladder, they should be one foot away from this area.
The stance of the feet or shoes should be firm. You should move the ladder if the ground seems too soft. It would help if you looked around the area where you’re going to set up your ladder for any other potential dangers that may arise when you’re descending it.
Stable is a term that describes you as well. If you’re feeling unwell, tired, or otherwise impaired, don’t try to climb a ladder. The best way to avoid accidents is to use common sense.
3. The Three Contact Points
As a general rule, three points of contact should be maintained while climbing or using ladders at all times. To do this, you’ll need to always have one or both feet and a hand on the ground. This will help you maintain your balance by distributing your weight more evenly. When you’re at the top of the ladder, it’s especially important to have someone else hold it for you, so you don’t fall.
The ladder’s price will vary depending on the ladder’s Duty Rating, ANSI type, kind, material, and design. If you need a more technical product, expect to pay more because of the accessories and features that come with them. To avoid overpaying for features you won’t use, consider your typical use when making your purchase.
A utility step platform can cost as little as $20 or as much as $300 for an extra heavy-duty stepladder. Aluminum extension ladders can be purchased for as little as $100. The price of a longer fiberglass model can go up to $400 or more.
A budget is easier to set if you focus on one type and work backward from there. Ensure that the product is OHSA-compliant and ANSI-certified before making a final purchase decision. Even if you only plan to use it for work at home, it’s still worth it to spend your money on the safest option available.
III. Ladders for Sale on the Internet
Now that you know what features to look for, it’s time to go shopping for the best ladder for your needs. Excellent online retailers can be found that sell high-quality goods at reasonable prices. Some of our favorites are listed below.
- Ace Hardware Store
- Home Depot