Last Updated: August 11, 2020
Stepladders are an invaluable asset for your home. They make it possible to change lightbulbs safely, access top shelves, and clean gutters. They’re called stepladders because their A-frame construction allows you to walk up steps rather than climbing up with both hands and both feet.
Most of us associate stepladders with relatively short ladders designed to aid in common tasks like painting high parts of walls and ceilings. But because they can be anywhere from three feet to nine feet, with some models even going to 20 feet, we can understand that you’d need help in buying one. We wrote reviews of a cross-section of what you’ll find shopping for one. We’d be remiss if we didn’t say that your first consideration is always safety, and wish you the best of luck in finding the right ladder for you.
|Best Overall||Louisville Ladder 8-Feet Stepladder||
|Best Value||Delxo Folding 3-Feet Step Ladder||
|Rubbermaid 3-Step Lightweight Ladder||
|Flip-N-Lite 5-Foot Platform Stepladder||
|Louisville 10-Feet Fiberglass Stepladder||
The Louisville Ladder 8-Feet Aluminum Stepladder got our top pick as best stepladder because it’s great for home and commercial use. It’s tall enough that it’s the only ladder you’ll need. It can bear 300 pounds despite being constructed of lightweight aluminum, and it’s jam-packed with features.
Some of those features include a magnet shelf at the top in case you need something to hold nails and screws, a paint shelf, and slots for tools. Since safety is always an issue when it comes to ladders, it’s got safety features worth mentioning. In addition to supporting 300 pounds worth of user and materials, it’s also got angled feet for stability and steel braces to hold it together and maintain a long life.
It’s definitely on the expensive side. If you’re on a budget and just need a stepladder to help store things, you’ll want to keep looking. Otherwise, this sets the bar for excellence.
Delxo’s Folding 3-Feet Step Ladder isn’t the most inexpensive stepladder we reviewed, but for something that folds down as thin as it does, it packs in a lot of quality. For that reason, we gave it our Best for the Money ranking.
It starts with safety. The Delxo is capable of holding 330 pounds of person and materials. The locking mechanism prevents it from closing inadvertently, and non-skid feet help maintain stability even when you’re on the top part. If you need to store something heavy on a shelf that’s too high to reach safely standing on your feet, you can step onto it with confidence. Once you’re done, it folds down so you can stash it just about anywhere.
All that comes at something of a price. In this case, it’s not dollars, it’s in weight. It’s a little heavier than you might expect or want.
Rubbermaid’s 3-Step Ultra Aluminum is, for your money, one of the best lightweight step stools you’re going to find. It’s perfect for storage situations where you need to put rarely used things up higher than you can reach comfortably.
It’s compact when broken down to hide anywhere, and at 8.75 pounds, it’s light enough that anyone can get it and carry it to where they need to use it. It’s got great safety features when in use, from a top shelf that locks into place to a handgrip up top to allow users to maintain balance while standing on it.
We should caution that it’s also known to shift a little during use. It’s not necessarily dangerous, and it’s not the ladder showing signs of collapse; it’s just that this stepladder doesn’t always come fully adjusted for use. It’s got a smaller weight load than our first two picks, although at 225 pounds, it’s still pretty respectable. It also has a habit of popping open during storage. If you buy this one, don’t be surprised if you need to use a bungee cord to keep it closed between uses.
Flip-N-Lite’s 5-Foot Platform Stepladder is ideal for apartments where a full-sized ladder would be a liability. It offers great floor-to-ceiling reach, even to hobbit-sized people, and safety features to inspire confidence.
One of our favorite things about it is that you can open it with one hand. If you’ve got a bag of groceries and need to store them, you can carry and set this up with the hand that’s not carrying food. It’s also got rubber/vinyl feet that conform and stick to whatever surface you’re using it on, so you can step up it without worrying that it’ll slide.
If you’re looking for a full-sized stepladder for an apartment, it’s a great choice. If you’re looking for something a little less, however, be aware that this one is also a little more expensive than other stepladders and is a bit on the heavy side.
The Louisville Ladder 10-Feet Fiberglass Stepladder pushes the bottom range of the stepladder’s maximum height. Anything above that, and the safety benefits that come from a stepladder’s A-frame design start to diminish.
It’s built with safety in mind for work at its upper reaches. It’s got angled aluminum legs with rubber feet to stay put, and heavy-duty braces, both of which are important if you’re working at seven or eight feet. You wouldn’t ordinarily think of tool slots as a safety feature, but being able to keep your tools at the top of your ladder means fewer trips up and down.
At 10 feet, it does push the boundaries of how tall you want a stepladder, most of which are nine feet or less. It’s also much more expensive than the other ladders we’ve looked at. If you’re looking for a basic ladder to help you do basic jobs, you can find one that costs less.
If you just need a little extra altitude, Cosco’s Three Step Big Step Folding Step Stool gives you just three feet. That doesn’t sound like a lot, but inside a home, that’s probably enough.
It’s comfortable to stand on, with wide resin-coated steps that will hold your feet in place. It also folds to a compact size, perfect for putting away just about anywhere between uses. At the price, it’s also a pretty good value.
What you won’t like are some things involving the weight. The load capacity is about 200 pounds, which could be problematic. It’s also got plastic feet, so it might have trouble staying in one place, even though it says it is non-skid. Finally, it advertises as being six pounds, but is closer to 13.
The only really remarkable thing about Rubbermaid’s RMS-3T 3-Step Steel Step Stool is that it’s as price-competitive a step stool as we’ve looked at so far. There aren’t a lot of safety features or gadgets to make it especially handy during projects. If you just need something to reach the top of the refrigerator once in a while, it’s not a bad option.
Between uses, it also folds down into something about as wide as a butter knife. You can store it just about anywhere.
Once-in-a-while use is just about all you’ll want to give this thing. The weight capacity is low. It’s pretty heavy to lug around the house, and can be difficult to open and close. If you’re thinking about getting a step stool for an elderly relative, definitely spend a little more so that person can feel a little more secure.
We’re kind of disappointed we had to drop the Best Choice Folding Steel 3-Step Stool Ladder down to eighth place. It looks sturdy, comes with a great advertised weight capacity of 330 pounds, and has a project shelf at the top that’s handy if you’re doing work or just putting stuff away.
While it looks sturdy, in fact, it’s constructed of plastic. While it is advertised as holding 330 pounds, in reality, it will do that until it can’t. And by “can’t,” we mean until you put your foot onto a step and it breaks. That’s the worst way to find out that a stepladder can’t hold as much weight as advertised. At 15.5 pounds, it’s also among the heaviest step stools we looked at. These are supposed to be highly portable, not something that’ll give you a cardio workout.
We took a look at the Hoffen Telescopic 4 Step to get an idea of how normal stepladders might compare to marine ladders. This is a telescopic ladder, which means it extends down into the water so people can climb out of the water back onto their boats. So, how does it measure up?
It’s stainless steel, which means that it’s a higher quality ladder than most of the others we looked at. It’s also a lot more durable than plastic or even aluminum. So, it’s got that going for it.
We just couldn’t rationalize ranking this any higher because it’s not a ladder you’re going to buy for your home and use there. It’s a great ladder for attaching to your boat, and it could double for extending down into the water from your dock. Of course, as a specialty ladder, it’s also pretty expensive.
Usually when we get to the bottom of a ranking, the product is a complete stinker. This one isn’t. It’s just not nearly as good as any of the others.
ZTDM’s Portable 3 Step Ladder is affordable and boasts a 330-pound weight capacity. Beyond that, it’s got nothing to recommend it: not a lot of features, and not a lot of extra engineering. In fact, if ladders had feelings and you fell off it, we’re pretty sure this one would probably stand around whistling instead of attending to you. If you need something cheap and something available, it’s your ladder.
What it doesn’t have is good step spacing. We have a feeling that a lot of shins get barked using this ladder. We’re also not entirely convinced that it can really hold 330 pounds.
The Louisville Ladder AS3008 8-Feet Aluminum Stepladder is our top pick as a great all-around stepladder for both home and commercial settings. Just be prepared to pay extra. The Delxo Folding 3-Feet Step Ladder is a great value option for home use if you mostly have to store things out of the way. Rubbermaid’s 3-Step Ultra Aluminum is the best lightweight stepladder we looked at, designed with safety and convenience in mind but sacrificing a bit in load capacity. If you need a ladder you can set up with one hand, Flip-N-Lite’s 300-Pound Duty Rating 5-Foot Platform Stepladder is worth looking at. The Louisville Ladder L-3016-10 10-Feet Fiberglass Stepladder offers plenty of safety when working at heights, but it’s really expensive.
Cosco’s Three Step Big Step Folding Step Stool is a pleasure to step on and a snap to store, but has a low weight capacity and is heavier than advertised. Rubbermaid’s RMS-3T 3-Step Steel Step Stool is easy to store and affordable, but if you weigh close to 200 pounds, you’ll want a different option. We really wanted to like Best Choice’s Folding Steel 3-Step Stool Ladder, because it looks so hardy and can hold a lot of weight. Unfortunately, it’s made of plastic, so it just might break for no reason. It’s also heavy. Hoffen’s Telescopic 4 Step Ladder is a specialty ladder for boats. If you’ve got one, we recommend it. If you don’t, you have no need for it. With ZDTM’s Portable 3 Step Ladder, you get what you pay for. It’s very affordable, but it’s got some significant drawbacks, like that you’ll probably whack your shins using it.
David Janus is the founder and CEO of Paint Sprayer Magazine. He has over two decades of experience in the spray paint industry and still enjoys writing about new products and technologies.
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