A DIY Enthusiast’s Guide to Ladder Types

A DIY Enthusiast’s Guide to Ladder Types

21st August 2017

Ladders tend to come in a variety of types and sizes which means that choosing the correct type of ladder to suit the job at hand is not always obvious. This week we’ve summarised the most common types of ladders, together with the advantages of each and some of their typical uses.

·Extension ladders can reach to heights of up to 12m so are perfect for clearing gutters, decorating walls of a house. These are available in 2 or 3 sections, with 3 section ladders occupying less storage space to achieve the same working height.

·Step ladders are free standing, and are available with or without a platform at the top, known as “swing back” steps or builders’ steps (without a platform). These have been designed for working at height for longer periods.

·Combination ladders can be used as an extension ladder or steps. They are free-standing so you can work on tasks such as hedge cutting or tree pruning without requiring a wall to lean the ladder against.

·Telescopic ladders are available in variety of sizes up to 3.8m and can be extended rung-by-rung. They will fit into the boot of a car, so you effectively have an extension ladder that can be stored in a fraction of the usual space.  While these are an attractive option for many domestic users due to their versatility, you need to note that an urgent message was sent to tradesmen, householders and DIY enthusiasts earlier this year in a bid to recall 32,000 telescopic ladders which failed to meet basic safety tests.  Trading Standards tested 13 ladders (which manufacturers claimed comply with safety standards) with not a single ladder passing the tests.  One ladder snapped in two when tested by Trading Standards officials and none would withstand normal wear and tear, presenting users with a heightened risk of an accident. 

·Multi-Purpose ladders can be configured into a range of positions. So can be used as an extension, platform or step ladder, the often will feature an additional platform, these are really versatile and are an excellent choice if you only have space for one ladder, but need to carry out a wide selection of jobs.

·Roof ladders feature a hook which allows the ladder to sit on the roof and are considered a safer option than simply working on the roof.  They are fitted with bearer bars to spread the weight on the roof to protect tiles and most importantly to give a safe working platform.

·Hop-ups (or work platforms as they are often known) are designed for use for long periods when you need to work just a little higher than you can comfortably reach. Typically the height will be 50 - 60cm, ideal if you are painting or decorating. These are also available in fibreglass making them suitable for use by electricians.

Warehouse steps are designed for use in warehouses; they are larger permanent step ladders, typically fitted with wheels to allow them to be moved into place. They are available in a large range of sizes, from 2 tread up to 15 tread, making them perfect for stock picking. Typically the platform is also very large and surrounded by a guardrail for safety.