Monday, 31 March 2008 | Tags: , , , ,

For chores, decorating and renovations, a sturdy ladder gives you a critical step up. We find out what to look for in ladders.

The Basics

    • Choose a ladder depending on the jobs you need it for:

      • Step ladders are usually around 6 feet tall and come with a foldable tray for paint or tools.

      • Extension ladders work by interlocking sliding pieces and can extend as high as 40-60 feet or more.

      • Multi-purpose ladders have hinges and can be positioned in different ways for unique jobs in unusual places.

    • A ladder longer than 28 feet may be heavy and difficult to manage. Make sure you can carry it comfortably, especially if you’re often working alone.

    • The weight capacity of a ladder can be determined by the grade:

      • Grade 3: 200 pound capacity

      • Grade 2: 225 pound capacity

      • Grade 1: 250 pound capacity

      • It’s a good idea to consider an extra 30 pounds for the added weight in tools or paint that may be up the ladder with you.

    • Ladders come in a few different materials:

      • Wooden ladders are the cheapest option but they’re also the heaviest and can take a beating from the elements.

      • Aluminum ladders are durable, lightweight and reasonably priced – but not recommended for electrical work since aluminum conducts electricity.

      • Fibreglass is a bit heavier than aluminum but very durable and non-conductive (as long as it’s not wet). They are also the most expensive.


  • Rungs are also important to look at:

    • D-shaped or flat-top rungs tend to be more comfortable to stand on than round rungs.

    • Look for rungs that are attached to plates riveted to the vertical rails with solid aluminum rivets.

    • Rubber-padded or ridged rungs help reduce potential slippage.

  • Rubber stoppers on the feet of your ladder help protect flooring surfaces.

Other Considerations

  • If you’re leaning the ladder up against the wall, you’ll need some sort of protection to avoid denting or scratching the drywall.


We got handy with some handymen helpers and tested these four ladders:

  • 24’ Aluminum Extension Grade 2: $124
  • Fibreglass Grade 1: $297
  • Jumbo Combo (aluminum multi-ladder) Grade 1: $229
  • Extend & Climb Telescopic Grade 2: $240

Step Test

  • While the telescopic ladder was nice and small, it was hard to manage when it came to extending and collapsing, and it didn’t feel very sturdy.

  • The idea behind the 8-position Jumbo Combo multi-ladder sounds great but was more than the average home-owner probably needs. It was also very bulky to carry and store.

  • Our experienced handymen favoured the fibreglass ladder for its sturdiness and grade 1 weight classification.

  • We were happiest with the easy to manage and more economical aluminum ladder for our more light-duty household needs.


For typical, light-duty household use, we preferred the more economical 24’ aluminum extension ladder.

top of page | | back to posts |
  • Subscribe to the A&K Newsletter