Last Updated: November 6, 2019
Ladders themselves aren’t a tool, really. You can’t use them to connect two pieces of wood. You can’t use them to shape metal. You can’t even use them to paint the side of your house. A lot of these jobs, however, would be impossible without a ladder.
There are lots of different kinds of ladders, and some of them are designed with specific jobs in mind. Knowing why certain ladders are designed in a certain way, will help you figure out what you need in a ladder.
There are a couple of ladders that most everyone has around the house. They provide a few extra feet when you need to do things like store items on a high shelf or even perform basic home maintenance like cleaning out low eaves. They’re super handy and also pretty inexpensive.
Most homes have the need for a step ladder. They help people do pretty basic things like change lightbulbs and store infrequently used objects on high shelves. They’re inexpensive and easy to store, and odds are that you probably own one.
If you don’t need the commitment of a full step ladder but still need to occasionally store goods on a high shelf or change a lightbulb, there’s a step stool. These can give you a foot or two of extra altitude for chores around the house.
If you’ve got a garage or a shed, chances are that you’ve got one of these ladders stored in it. They provide a little bit of stable clearance for jobs like cleaning the tops of windows, hanging holiday lights, or trimming trees.
Extension ladders allow the user to reach higher points while economizing on space. Users will want to keep safety in mind while using these ladders. But, if you need to get up into that hard-to-reach exterior corner to power wash off a wasp’s nest, these are invaluable.
A basic, run-of-the-mill extension ladder, it uses teeth to lock it into position when the extensions have been pulled out to the desired height. It’s important to not stand on the top rungs of these ladders, as those are there for stability.
Telescoping ladders collapse down into a handy short, thin section and can be elongated into something that offers a few extra feet of climbing space. One thing to keep an eye on is how the rungs are locked into place. That could raise questions about how far you can trust these for safety.
Attic ladders are static extension ladders that permit access to the attic. Although you can’t move them around for other uses, they do collapse into a smaller section for storage.
Rather than slide together for storage in smaller spaces, the flexible ladder rolls up. These are great for outdoor recreation or even as emergency escape ladders from second-story bedrooms. If you climb them, be prepared to get a workout.
If you’re going to buy just a single ladder beyond the basics, one that can do several things might be a good investment. These ladders can be purposed for a wide variety of tasks.
Podium ladders have a good sturdy frame and a standing space that is all about stability and safety. These allow the user to do a wide range of projects at greater heights, from painting to using nail guns to running cable.
If you’re looking for ladders that can provide multiple ladder functions, these multipurpose ladders can be modified 24 different ways. They’re also strong, sturdy, and have flared legs for maximum stability.
Articulated ladders rely on locking hinges so that you can take one ladder and make several out of it. You can even make a ladder and a standing platform if you need to stand over an open space and work on a ceiling.
Painting is one job that traditionally required specialized ladders with shelves large enough to hold paint cans. Nowadays, those ladders have fallen out of fashion, and a lot of traditional painting ladders have found a home in DIY projects.
Platform trestle ladders are like a miniature form of scaffolding for painting the high parts of an exterior wall. They have a traditional A-frame design with a platform in the middle that provides a stable standing surface. It’s probably not sound enough, however, for high-pressure work.
The traditional ladder intended for painting, this basic ladder has a shelf big enough to hold a paint can. Today, these are popular for decorating installations. If you buy one, however, you can still use it as a very basic painting ladder in taller rooms.
The idea of a mobile ladder might sound frightening, but when done right they can be a very useful tool. As long as you can maintain a stable frame and have locking wheels, mobile ladders are especially useful on wide-open floors like the kind you find in warehouses or large barns.
If you need just a little bit of portable height, one good option is a portable ladder, which is like a large step ladder with a couple of wheels on the front. The backs anchor it down when you need to position it for work.
If you’ve got a wide-open barn or warehouse-like building, you might need a portable warehouse ladder to get from place to place. That’s especially if you’re storing things up high in various areas. There are also models with platforms for added stability.
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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