DIY jobs around the house often require a ladder. It’s important to make sure you choose the right ladder, though, as using the wrong type can result in instability and injury. Read on for our tips on choosing the right ladder.
Step ladders are a good option for working at lower heights and for great stability. This type of ladder is an A-frame, which usually has two locking arms between the sides and a locking platform at the peak. A great choice for interior decorating, light bulb changing, hanging pictures, etc.
Extension ladders are the classic design of a straight runged ladder with the ability to extend for work at increased heights. A good choice for working on roofing, gutters, upper floor windows, etc. This kind of ladder needs special attention when setting it up, to ensure the safest possible use.
Combination ladders are a hybrid of step and extending ladders. Uniquely, they can be used on even surfaces like on stairs, and as an extension ladder without the need to lean against a roof or other structure, so they’re a particularly useful and versatile option for a variety of domestic uses.
Wood is a good, classic ladder material, but it can be heavy, cumbersome and prone to rot over time if not maintained well.
Aluminium is nice and light, without sacrificing strength or stability. Very little maintenance is required with an aluminium model, and they can be found in cost-effective options.
Fibreglass is super strong and has the added benefit of being non-conductive so, if you’re likely to be doing work on electrics, a fibreglass ladder can give added safety.
Always be sure to get a ladder that is bigger than you think you need. This will reduce the temptation to overstretch, which can lead to overbalancing and subsequent injury. Don’t forget that you’ll need to store your ladder somewhere, so if you’re really short of space you might want to consider a telescopic option or stick to a fibreglass or aluminium model that can be left outside without risk of rotting or rusting.
Whenever you use your ladder, always check that it is intact with rungs or treads clean, dry and stable. Also, be sure to adhere to any weight restrictions – it should be clearly marked on the ladder somewhere – and never use the top rungs.
For a step ladder, set it up on a flat surface with all four feet firmly on the ground. Make sure that the arms and platform are locked into place to prevent the ladder slipping away from beneath you, and set it up facing the work space. Never turn around on the ladder, never over-reach or stretch, and always maintain three points of contact with the ladder – both feet on treads and one hand holding on.
For extending or traditional ladders, make sure you lean the ladder against something sturdy and immovable – don’t prop it against plastic guttering, weak branches or window panes, for example. If you are using the ladder to access your roof, make sure that the top of the ladder is above the roofline, so that you can easily step on and off the ladder without having to try to climb over the guttering or roof edge.