Ladder 101: What to Consider when Buying a Ladder

Choosing the right ladder can be daunting. You want to make sure you get one that is strong and stable, yet light enough to carry. This article will show you how to buy a ladder from two different perspectives: as a homeowner or as a professional use.

The decision to buy a ladder is one that should not be taken lightly. A good ladder will last for years and can be used in many different applications.

When you need to buy a ladder, it’s important to do your homework. You can go into any hardware store and grab the first ladder you see for the job at hand, but that likely won’t be your best option.

The cheapest ladders are often flimsy and made of inferior materials, so if you’re going to pay for a ladder, it might as well be the one that’s right for the job. Check out this article for what you should consider when buying a ladder.

Types of Ladder

There are many types of ladders to choose from. The most basic type is the straight ladder. It is usually the most affordable and the most basic, but it will work for most household tasks. Another type of ladder is an extension ladder. These are great for people who need to reach higher places. A telescoping ladder can be used on uneven surfaces, which makes it great for outdoor use.

What to Consider when Buying a LadderGuide to buy a ladder

What ladders should electricians use? If you are a newbie in this industry, this question may confuse you. But as long as you keep the following factors in mind when buying, it shouldn’t be a problem.

  • Construction Material-

When choosing the right ladder for electrical work, the most important consideration is deciding what material you want to use. When working with electrical cables and electrical appliances, choosing the right ladder is the most important thing, because choosing the wrong ladder can have disastrous consequences.

You have to be very careful in this regard, the use of ladders made of conductive materials is the first drawback in the safety of workers. Ladders are usually made from one of three materials: aluminum, wood, and fiberglass. It is conceivable that although aluminum ladders have excellent durability, it is impossible for electricians to use aluminum ladders because they can conduct electricity.

Therefore, the other remaining options are wood and fiberglass. Among them, fiberglass is best because it is non-conductive and very durable (although this also depends on the build quality of the ladder). However, if your budget is limited, fiberglass stairs may not be your ideal option. In this case, you can use a wooden ladder.

They are very sturdy and there are usually several types of stairs to choose from. However, please keep in mind that wood is easy to rot if exposed to a humid environment, so please keep in mind your local climate.

  • Ladder-type and weight capacity

The next relevant consideration for which ladder to buy is its type. There are many types of ladders to choose from, from simple ladder models to more complex articulated models. There are three main types of ladders, which are classified according to their carrying capacity. Choose according to your weight and work needs:

  1. Type  I-Industrial: These ladders can withstand up to 250 pounds and are perfect for heavy use.
  2. Type  II-Commercial: They have an average load capacity of 225 pounds. They are ideal for professional and household electrical work.
  3. Type III-Household: If you do not use ladders often, or if you are not a professional, then you can choose Type III ladders. Their maximum load capacity is 200 pounds.
  • Platform

The platform ladder is named after the additional top shelf, providing maximum convenience with minimal additional storage space. No one likes to have to go up and down to get their tools, especially electricians. The only disadvantage of platform ladders is their large size and weight, which reduces portability.

  • Extension

As the name suggests, this ladder can be adjusted to various sizes and is very useful for electricians who often need to reach high places. However, the problem here is that due to its nature, most extension ladders do not have a supporting frame, and so they are not very safe to use.

  • Multipurpose

Also known as articulated ladders, multi-purpose ladders are so named because they combine the characteristics of different types of ladders. These are usually height and angle adjustable, and some can even be used as trestles. However, please pay attention to its significant weight and size. In addition, if you really want to use all its features, then consider buying it.

  • Step Ladder

Probably the most common ladder in the houses, the height of this ladder is fixed and it usually has extra wide rungs that double as a step. These are ideal options for low-intensity electrical work and have considerable safety and stability, but are often not very high.

  • Locking Mechanism

No matter which type of ladder you choose, be sure to choose a ladder with a safe and easy-to-use locking mechanism. Although most ladders will use this as a general rule, it is best to look for a ladder with extra support. It is never a good thing to lose balance due to an unstable ladder, and of course, this is especially true for electrical work.

What to Consider when Buying a Ladder

Basics to maintain ladder safety:

The ladder is generally used for internal and external electrical connections. The extendable ladder allows users to reach heights that the step ladder cannot reach. Before climbing a ladder, some basic knowledge of ladder safety should be considered. A level and safe foothold as well as a fixed ladder and a locked safety arm are essential.

Obstacles at the top and clean, debris-free areas below and around the bottom of the ladder provide a safe workplace. Consider the following to maintain ladder safety:

  • Lock the Ladder

Before climbing the ladder, check that it should always be fully open and the locking arms should be locked in place. This is true for step ladders as well as extension ladders.

On step ladders, they contain two locking arms, one on each side, which allows each side of the ladder legs to be securely locked in place so that the ladder legs will not be closed again. The extension ladder is divided into two parts.

There are feet on the lower part and plastic caps or wings on the upper part to fix it on the side of a building or a pole. There are also two spring-loaded locking arms at the top, which are connected to the legs at the bottom of the ladder. When you go up, these arms prevent the upper part from sliding down.

  • Level and Solid Ground for the Ladder Base

Before attempting to climb a ladder, place the ladder on a level work surface or level the area. This ground must be solid. If you add dirt or gravel to level the surface, make sure it is compact and strong.

Sometimes it is necessary to block material to level the base of the ladder. Choose a flat, sturdy board or wooden frame instead of sticks or other materials that can easily slide off the bottom of the ladder.

Make sure the ladder legs are in contact with the ground; otherwise, you will see that the ladder shakes when you go up. If the ground is not level, you can use the ladder leveler to level the ladder. In the case of using a ladder to work on stairs, the best to use is a leveler.

  • Know the Climbing Limits

Do not climb to the top of the ladder or close to the last level of the ladder. Never put yourself in a position where you must stretch to achieve your work goals. Get higher ladders to complete tasks and play safely.

The use of power tools increases the risk of standing on a ladder. If a bit sticks and hits you, you may fall off the ladder. When all of your weight is on the top of the ladder, the ladder will also become unstable, causing the top to move, which in turn causes your feet to push the top of the ladder in one direction. This will make you fall down.

  • Look Around for Hidden Dangers Before Climbing

Beware of hidden dangers, such as exposed cables and obstacles that may hit your head when climbing ladders. Many times, there are power lines in the area where you work, such as overhead service lines.

Not only that, if you fall from a ladder to the ground, there may be pipes and other things sticking out of the ground, which may hurt you.If possible, eliminate these hazards before you start. Before climbing the ladder, check the work area.

Make sure the ladder is positioned correctly, and once you go up, no wires should touch your head. If the ground is not level, use a leveling machine. Remove any obstacles that may get in the way of your work.

  • Foot the Ladder

If possible, ask an assistant to support the ladder. If someone has a ladder and it’s a slippery one, it is always better for security when someone for the first time is climbing with the support of another person to foot it. Also, do not forget to keep the ladder away from the ceiling. This allows the person to use a ladder and get down safely. 

  • Choosing the Right Ladder

Choose ladders only having UL (Underwriter’s Laboratories) seals. The ladder is made of one of three materials: wood, aluminum or fiberglass. Aluminum ladders are dangerous around electricity because they can conduct electricity, although they are unlikely to break after years of use. Wooden ladders do not conduct electricity, but over time, when they are exposed to a humid environment, they will rot.

Fiberglass ladders provide the best choice for long service life and conductive safety. The downside is that fiberglass ladders are the most expensive. You cannot just use any ladders for electrical work.

Therefore, do not use aluminum ladders. Use fiberglass or wooden ladders as they do not conduct electricity and you will not receive an electric shock.

  • Tie-Off Ladders for Safety

When using an extension ladder, tie the top of the ladder if possible. This prevents the ladder from slipping off the edge of the wall or ceiling. There is nothing worse than going down from the roof to an unfixed ladder and falling to the ground with a bang when it hits the ground!

Simply put nails or screws under a roof, or tie them to a strong structure on the roof or next to the roof, such as antennas or brackets. If you climb to another surface, make sure that the ladder is at least three feet above the platform you are climbing on.

  • Climbing and Standing on a Ladder Precautions

It may seem easy to be standing on the ladder, but you must follow these tips to guarantee security:

  1. In the case of climbing and descending, always face the ladder. 
  2. Do not put one foot on a rung and the other foot on some surface. 
  3. Do not rise more than the second step of the step ladder and above the third step of extension or straight ladder.
  4. Do not stand on the painting shelf of the step ladder. 
  • Use Proper Ladder Angles

Place the ladder at an appropriate angle. Placing the ladder at the wrong angle will make it unstable. In addition, when placed at the wrong angle, the ladder tends to slide. Always follow rule 4: 1. Keep the bottom of the ladder 1 foot away from the object on which it is standing, for every 4 feet of height, up to the point where the ladder touches the top.

Holding too great an angle will put pressure on the center of the ladder and the feet of the ladder may slip. An insufficient angle will also make the ladder unstable and the ladder may collapse backward. Do not make the extension ladder angle too steep or extend too far from the work area.

Insufficient angles on the ladder will cause the ladder to be off-center. When climbing, it is like falling backward. When you reach the top, gravity can pull you and the ladder off the roof.

  • Use Proper Size Ladder For Work

Using a ladder of the right size is important in any type of job. Not all heights can be reached with a single ladder, and using the wrong size ladder can lead to a fall or other accident. Check the work area and calculate the required ladder length.

How to clean ladder

  • Cleaning the dirt off a ladder- External works and new buildings will cover your ladders with dust. You can clean it with a bucket of hot water and a cleaning sponge or brush.
  • Cleaning the paint off a ladder- It always happens unintentionally while painting a ladder with a paint sprayer, that you find unwanted paint on the ladder. You should use isopropyl alcohol (for latex / water-based paint), lacquer thinner (for paint), or mineral spirits (for oil-based paint) and a rag or brush for removing the paint off the ladder.
  • Use the hose- In most work sites, hoses can be easily found so that the ladder can be quickly flushed out clean for transportation. A pressure washer or car washer is another good choice for washing stubborn dirt on the ladder.


I hope that you have found this article helpful. Now that you understand the basics. A ladder is one of the most important pieces of equipment for any home or business, so it’s worth taking the time to do some research before you buy. A telescoping ladder is a good option because it can adjust for different heights. A stepladder is best used for overhead work at ground level, while a straight ladder is best suited for climbing up to high shelves.

Good Luck!!

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