22 Types Of Ladders and Materials (Pros and Cons)

Buying the right ladder for your project can be a challenge. It’s not easy to know which type of ladder you need and whether it’s safe to use.

The best way to navigate this minefield is by learning about the different ladders available on the market. That will help you know how each works, their pros and cons and make informed decisions when buying one. 

This article lists all the different types of ladders so that you can easily find out what kind suits your needs perfectly.

Types Of Ladders

1. A-Frame Paint Ladder

Paint ladders, as the name suggests, are used in painting projects. They are a kind of temporary ladder that can be folded up and stored away when it’s not being used.

Most paint ladders have frames made from metal or plastic with zinc alloy bottoms. The top is usually made of wood to provide extra strength. 

A-frame ladder is very common among people because of the added safety and stability you get when you stand on it.

Pros

  • It is safe and stable
  • Very convenience
  • The presence of an extended version saves you a lot of space
  • The ladder works well both indoors and outdoors

Cons

  • It is very annoying to carry around as it takes up a lot of space
  • Inefficient for the long climb when you need to go higher

2. Articulated Ladder

This is another portable ladder that you can change to fit your job. This ladder is different from the A-frame because it has two pieces joined to a hinge. The design of this ladder makes it easy to carry around. Their series of locking systems helps to keep them in place.

The ladder comes as a step ladder as well as an extension. It is one of the most efficient ladders to use. This was designed for both indoor and outdoor uses. It can also reach up to 12 feet high. You can easily store it in your home or vehicle.

Pros

  • They are versatile
  • They are easy to transport
  • They are extremely portable
  • They are lightweight
  • Acquires minimal storage

Cons

  • It may not work well if the joints are made of weak material
  • They can be quite dangerous when used in certain ways

3. Attic Ladder

An attic ladder is attached to a door for a loft to access it. This ladder allows the user to get into hard-to-reach areas so you can do the cleaning process.

They use a hinged door joint that helps provide safe access and improves safety standards in terms of accessing a loft or attic at home.

Pros

  • They are portable and compact
  • Easy to store
  • They are more comfortable to navigate
  • Requires less effort

Cons

  • They are not sturdy enough; for example, the folding attic ladder
  • Not cost-effective as you’ll require expertise to install

4. Extension Ladder

An extension ladder is often used for outdoor works. It is one of the most commonly used ladders by professional and DIY persons.

The ladder can extend up to 40 feet when fully extended, giving you reach to hard-to-reach areas, especially on elevated surfaces like roofs or even trees and power lines.

Pros

  • You can adjust and customize to your suitable height
  • It can be extended to 9.8 meters
  • Easy to use
  • Very economical when it comes to working height
  • The extension function makes it good to transport

Cons

  • It can be hard to handle the tall model
  • It can only be used as a normal ladder and not as a combination ladder

5. Five-Step Portable Ladder

This ladder is great for interior work. It can support weight up to 150 kgs. Unlike other ladders, it features detachable steps making it safe for storage when not in use. The 5-step portable ladder comes with a special locking system that locks the sections securely for extra safety.

Also, most ladders are mobile, which means that you can take them anywhere. But they don’t have wheels which makes them hard to transport.

That’s not the case with five-star portable ladders because they come with wheels at the bottom. This makes it easy to move around when you want your work done properly.

Pros

  • Can lock
  • It is easily portable
  • The ladder comes with many different designs

Cons

  • It is too big
  • Difficult to store

6. Folding or Articulated Ladder

There is a difference between Articulating and Folding ladders. The articulating ladder can be adjusted in length, whereas the folding ladder cannot.

This type of ladder features locking joints for height adjustment to suit different working conditions. They are used extensively for building construction, maintenance as well as indoor decoration works.

Pros

  • They are versatile
  • They are easily portable
  • Works both indoors and outdoors
  • It is lightweight
  • It is easy to use

Cons

  • They cannot be used for heavy-duty works
  • It is not suitable for very tall jobs

7. Multipurpose Ladder

The multipurpose ladder can attend to two or more tasks. They are used as extension ladders or step ladders. It is versatile and can be folded into many shapes, making it the most preferred ladder worldwide. It combines the features of step and extension models, making it versatile.

This type of ladder is self-supportive but sometimes requires placing a firm surface on the bottom rung (on an elevated platform). It can be used for a variety of purposes, including painting, repairing and accessing rooftops.

Pros

  • It offers flexibility
  • It is a good choice for both professionals DIY projects
  • Easy to store as they require less space

Cons

  • Moderately expensive when compared to other ladders

8. Platform Trestle ladder

This type of ladder is a variant of the step front ladder. Diagonal braces are added to the ladder. The braces help provide a platform on top of the step ladders so that you can work comfortably.

Due to these additions, this variant is heavier than other types of ladders. What makes it durable and sturdy is that it is built to be used by two people at the same time.

This popular ladder can be used in construction projects. They offer better stability than the standard ones. The only drawback is that they are expensive compared to other types and need more space during storage. But they safely provide access to higher areas.

Pros

  • These ladders have more capacity and stability when compared to normal step ladders
  • They offer increased safety
  • Offers comfort while working on jobs that require you to use both hands

Cons

  • Storage can be a problem
  • They are expensive compared to other ladders

9. Podium Ladder

Ladders are not only made for household work. Some are made for different purposes. Some might require you to stand for a long time, which means that you’ll need a ladder with enough space to stand. That’s exactly what the podium ladder provides.

These are ladders that can be attached to the podium or stage. People usually use it when giving speeches and performing at events.

You need to stand a lot while doing this, so you need something that can hold more of your weight, and there’s also the comfortability factor here.

Pros

  • It is a very safe and stable choice of ladder
  • Provides comfort, and you stand on it for a long time
  • Its dimension creates additional security for footing when standing on it
  • If handled properly, they cannot lean against the wall

Cons

  • They are heavy and bulkier
  • It poses a security threat as there is no allowance of moving close to

10. Rope or Flexible Ladder

They are made of high-quality rope or fiber, and they can be either extendable or foldable (or both). They are easy to carry around in case you need them for any construction project.

These ladders can come with added features such as extra-long pegs and steps wider than usual, depending on your purpose. Rope ladders can also be used for recreational activities such as carvings. You can also use them to escape even from the 3rd to the 4th floor.

Pros

  • They have added features that enhance its functionality 
  • It is easy to carry in a bag or a backpack
  • Good quality ladder at affordable price
  • Can withstand both low and high temperatures

Cons

  • The rope might get loose while you’re using it
  • It is quite hard to tie the knots on the ropes

11. Step Ladder

Step ladders are good for industrial use. They don’t need any other support as they can stand on their own.

They are very good for short heights. If you want to climb a long ladder, this is not the one for that job. You can use it to clean windows from ground level and then store them back when you don’t need them again.

Pros

  • It offers flexibility since you don’t need any support
  • Lightweight ladder which is easy to move
  • It is affordable

Cons

  • It might not be very safe to climb up if the ladder is shaky
  • You can use it for short heights only

12. Telescopic Ladder

Telescopic ladders easily slide in and out using sections that lock into place. They are made for all uses as they can be used from different heights, and they offer stability as they stand on their own. They are very easy to carry and store since you slide them in after use.

Pros

  • Provides greater flexibility and adjustability
  • They help to save a lot of time by providing faster adjustment and setup
  • Its durability is another positive factor
  • It has big steps which provide you with complete support
  • It comes at an affordable and suitable price

Cons

  • It requires high maintenance in case of a breakdown

13. Tripod Ladder

A ladder can be used for different types of applications and purposes. It is considered one of the most basic yet useful items that you can have.

A tripod ladder combines two ladders into one; this gives it more stability, providing a safer climb. You get more room to rest and work at the same time due to its wide top platform.

A Tripod ladder is ideal for gardening jobs because it can handle slopes and uneven grounds. It can also be used for painting, plumbing and any other maintenance job.

The holes in the bottom and top rungs will prevent the ladder from slipping on uneven ground while it is placed. This also prevents sliding when you climb up or down a step ladder. The leg locks are adjustable, which means that one size will suffice for all different types

Pros

  • It has a lightweight design
  • Their platform enables them to work safely and comfortably
  • You can use it in any terrain because of the stability

Cons

  • Requires a lot of storage space

14. Warehouse Ladder

Warehouse ladders are designed to be used in the warehouse environment. They can also be useful if you have many things stored in your garage that you want to bring down and put on the floor.

It is not very common. It has a large platform and railings to provide safety and stability when standing on it. The caster wheels in the warehouse ladder allow you to easily move it from place to place. It can withstand various tasks in the warehouse because of the metal frame.

Pros

  • It features a strong metal frame
  • It is safe and stable
  • It is durable
  • It can withstand heavy tasks in a warehouse without breaking

Cons

  • It is very heavy and bulky
  • Occupies too much space

15. Malleable Ladders

This type of ladder rolls up like a ribbon instead of stacking up like the other ladders. The rungs are also foldable and flexible, like a roll of aluminum.

They are very useful to use in small spaces since they take up less storage space than other types. It is lightweight and can easily be carried around without any effort by two people.

They are stored and used as fire escape ladders. They are greatly used outdoors for climbing treehouses. They are typical ropes that you normally see.

Pros

  • They are flexible and portable
  • They are easy to store
  • It is suitable for most jobs

Cons

  • Not safe for electrical because of aluminum material

16. Mobile Ladders

Mobile ladders are a type of ladder that can be moved around. They are usually placed against trees and walls where you wish to have them.

They do not come with wheels, so they may be hard to move, but the upside is that they can be sturdy when placed in one spot compared to portable ones. They are convenient for large spaces that require objects to be moved more often.

Pros

  • They are convenient for large spaces
  • They are portable
  • They are sturdy

Cons

  • They are dangerous

Types of Ladder Materials

What a ladder is made of has a lot of impacts when you are making a buying decision. As you consider the cost and the typical use, consider the materials of the ladder you are buying.

Factor in the type of project you are going to do. Here are some of the materials to help you choose the right ladder:

Wood

Wood is the most common and popular type of ladder. However, it comes with some benefits and downsides.

Pros

  • It’s affordable and readily available
  • It does conduct electricity, making it safe to use anywhere
  • Easy to transport thanks to its lightweight

Cons

  • It is heavy
  • A wood ladder can deteriorate if left out in the elements
  • It is not durable

Aluminum

Aluminum ladders are the most common type of ladder used in construction jobs. It is strong, durable and safe to use on any job site. It is an excellent material for several types of ladders.

Pros

  • It can take a lot of pressure and remain intact
  • It is lightweight
  • It is affordable

Cons

  • It is a good conductor of electricity, making it dangerous to be used near electrical equipment

Fiberglass

This ladder material is worth considering, especially if you are doing outdoor projects. It offers much more in terms of functionality than other materials. This material reflects ambience temperature when used in ladders.

Pros

  • It is very strong and can handle anything rough
  • It doesn’t conduct electricity
  • It is durable

Cons

  • It’s costly compared to other materials

Plastic

If you are looking for a cheaper alternative before purchasing your ladder, go for the plastic material made of polyester resin with glass-fiber reinforcement. Of course, there are some situations that don’t require those expensive materials like fiberglass.

Pros

  • It is cheap
  • It is lightweight
  • It is non-magnetic
  • Easy to transport

Cons

  • It is not durable
  • Not suitable for heavy task

Steel

This is the most durable material for ladders. The lightweight feature of steel makes it compete with aluminum and fiberglass.

Buying a ladder made of steel gives you the freedom to use your ladder in any construction and warehouse environment. That’s why most professionals love them. However, it is not the ideal material for a DIYer.

Pros

  • It is resilient and more robust than aluminum
  • It is suitable for heavy-duty projects
  • It is cheap compared to fiberglass and aluminum

Cons

  • Requires proper storage to prevent rusting
  • It is heavy
  • Conductors of both heat and electricity

What is the duty rating of a ladder?

Duty rating is the maximum load or weight a ladder can hold when used safely. According to the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation (OHSR), ladders should be inspected at least once every six months.

What is the OSHA standard for ladders?

Falling is one of the main causes of fatalities in construction, according to OSHA. That’s why ladders come with safety labels on them. The set standards apply for all ladder types, including portable, fixed versions, platforms, and mobile stands.

Their standard also covers the spacing between the rungs, clearance and defects of the ladder. The OSHA regulations outline the safe usage, testing and marking requirements.

What is the ANSI standard for portable metal ladders?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards are voluntary but used as guidelines when developing OSHA standards.

For example, the ANSI A14.1 (Safety Requirements for Portable Metal Ladders) is based on previous OSHA requirements regarding ladders and their safety. OSHA guides the safe construction, testing, design, care and use of different types and styles of portable metal ladders.

How much does a ladder cost?

Ladders are priced differently because they come in different types and sizes. The price of ladders also varies with the seller. One seller might sell cheaply while others might hike the price. Therefore, it is important to know the prices of different ladders before you end up paying a hefty amount for a low-quality type.

So, whether buying a used ladder or a new one, ensure it is of good quality and suits your needs. This is because if you buy the wrong one at a low price, you might end up wasting your hard-earned cash. Pay attention to both the price and quality before buying a ladder.

FAQs

Which is better, an aluminum or fiberglass ladder?

The answer to this question largely depends on the type of work you will be doing with the ladder. For example, if you are working in a harsh environment with moisture and heat, fiberglass ladders are ideal for use as they are not affected by these conditions. Fiberglass is much stronger than aluminum.

Fiberglass can also resist electricity, making them safe to use near an electric pole. Therefore, fiberglass ladders are far much better than aluminum.

What size of a ladder do you need for a two-story house?

Before you answer this question, you need to know the measurement of your house. Measure both floors and take an average. There are a few standard sizes for ladders. Also, know the measurement of your ladder. When figuring the size of your ladder, remember that you will need a ladder height that reaches both your height and platform height. Also, remember that the ladder’s working height is not the same as its total height. 

What size ladder should I buy?

A stepladder is shorter than a typical ladder, and it has stairs instead of rungs. Each step is almost always large enough to support both feet equally. They are often portable and can be moved around the job site for easy use. You can also consider extension ladders if you don’t get a stepladder.

What is the safest type of ladder?

Fiberglass is the safest type of ladder you can lay your hands on. It is super strong and light. Fiberglass ladders are also corrosion-proof so that you can use them in any weather.

How many types of ladders are there?

There are many different types of ladders. We’ve outlined up to 17 types of ladders, but most of them are pretty rare.

The ladder types you will see the most are A-frame paint, articulated, attic, extension, and multipurpose ladder. The type of ladder that you choose will be determined by what you intend to use it for.

What is the 4 to 1 ladder rule?  

The 4 to 1 rule is the most important ladder safety rule. This rule states that for every four feet of altitude you climb, you are one foot away from falling off the ladder. This means that it is unsafe to climb a ladder more than four feet above the ground. If you are on an extension ladder, make sure that your base is not elevated higher than 3 feet from the ground.

Conclusion

Ladders work for all your needs. All you need to do is choose a specific type depending on the type of work you want to do with them. Even though all of these ladders work great to ensure you reach your desired height, they’re not all used for the same tasks.

But depending on your project, most ladder types come with unique integrations that can serve you efficiently, conveniently and safely. So choosing the right type of ladder is convenient and offers safety to the users.

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