DIY Exterior Painting – How to Check your Ladder is Safe

DIY Exterior Painting – How to Check your Ladder is Safe

17th May 2018

Ladder safety is always an important consideration whether during domestic use or use in industry.  Choosing the right ladder for the job and using it correctly is vital in order to minimise the risk of an accident.  Last week we brought you some information on how important it is to stay safe when painting the exterior of your home and today we’re going to look at this in more detail.  As we said last week, choosing the right access equipment is vital and we recommended hiring a work platform in order to pain the outside of your home.  However, we do appreciate that a ladder may be a cheaper option, especially if you already own ladders that you can use.  If you do choose to use ladders, make sure they are in good condition before starting the work. 

Ladder stiles (the long vertical side pieces that the rungs are attached to) need to be checked for dents, splinters or creases.   Any deformed stiles are a sign that the ladder may bend or even snap under pressure which means that the ladder is not fit for purpose.

Check the ladder feet for wear or damage.  Any worn, damaged or missing feet mean that the ladder will not be able to rest safely on a flat surface and should not be used.


Safety LaddersThe plastic cap on the foot of this ladder shows obvious signs of wear and damage, meaning it cannot be relied upon to rest safely and should be replaced.

Rungs and steps need checking – bent, missing or splintered rungs are a weak point and could snap under use, undermining the structural integrity of the ladder.


Safety LaddersThe rungs on this ladder have bent under the user’s weight, meaning they are weakened and present a safety hazard.

Side stays, handrails and braces on step ladders need to be checked to ensure that they are undamaged and firmly attached.

The platform on a step ladder forms part of the structural integrity – it should not be bent or loose and the platform support bar needs checking for damage or weakness.


TSafety Laddershe platform on this stepladder shows clear signs of weakness – it’s buckled, rendering the ladder unsafe to use.

A general check for loose rivets, cracks and splinters should be performed – the two images below clearly show evidence of corrosion – in one place where the rungs are attached to the stiles of the ladder and in the other photo, where the rivet attaches the hinge.  These are both reasons to discard the ladder and replace it with a new, safer ladder.

Up and over stairs

Ladders should not be painted – paint can cover damage and deformities.   Ladders should only be treated with a clear preservative in order to keep defects visible.    Both ladders in the images below have been contaminated with paint.  The extension ladder has paint splashed on most of its parts while the stepladder has paint on the platform.  If you use a ladder for painting, keep a damp rag handy and always wipe off any paint damage before it has a chance to dry.

Up and over stairs

Next week we’ll take a look at how to make sure that you use ladders safely whilst painting the exterior of your home.