One of the most commom household tools is the ladder. Ladders are an essential part of home ownership as you will need to change lightbulbs, get int your attic, clean the gutters, put up Christmas lights, paint, or clean. There are essentially 3 types of ladders - A frame, telescopic, and extension. The A-frame ladder was the most popular for years and they still come in handy in situations where you can't lean a ladder against a wall to secure it. If you have high ceilings and need to change light bulbs or replace a light fixture, an A-frame is the only way to get the job done. Extension ladders are great for outdoor work such as cleaning out the gutters of leaves or getting your X-mas lights up for the holiday season. The telescopic ladders like the Little Giant are great for hard to reach spots that may be on or near staircases or if you need to setup a simple scaffolding inside or outside of your house for things like painting. Most modern ladders are made with aluminum, fiberglass, or steel. Some of the classic A-frames were made with wood, but todays models have switched to aluminum.
Choosing a ladder that best fits your needs is not that hard. We do suggest that you get a ladder that is taller than you might think you need since you can always lower an extension ladder down but you can't make it higher if it's too short. I have bought multiple ladders over the years for various purposes (cleaning gutter, pruning trees, interior work, etc.) and now you can get multipurpose or telescoping ladders that essentially you more than 1 ladder with one purchase. Make sure any ladder you purchase has stable footing, preferably with slip resistant molds on the feet. If you will be doing work high up on roofs or against walls, get the stabilizer bar that attaches to the ladder and makes for safe work conditions. Extension ladders a great, but make sure the rope system that most come equipped with operates smoothly. The ladder I purchased a few years ago has slowly become harder and harder to extend upwards as the rope and pull system has become bent and doesn't work as smoothly as it should. A ladder should last a lifetime so even if you spend upwards of $200 for a quality built one, it will be well worth it. Wood ladders can worp, crack, and even break, so stay away from purchasing one. Stick with fiberglass or aluminum as they are still strong but lightweight enough to carry around the house or yard by yourself. See our selections below for "best of" in different categories.
Best Multipurpose Ladder:
The Little Giant Ladder really does it all when it comes to ladder configurations. Not all products we see on "TV Informercials" really live up to their hype, but the Little Giant does. You get an entire ladder system with 24 ladders in one. Get multiple A-frame, staircase, extension, and 90 degree ladders from this single unit. The multiposition trestles for scaffolding make hard jobs seem easy. The triple locking hinge provides you with a sturdy ladder in all positions. The ladder starts at over $300 but considering the lifetime of usage you could get with all it's funtions and positions, the money is well spent. The new Tip and Glide wheel system lets you roll the ladder to its next job or storage place. There are other telescoping ladders (like the Werner below), but none comes close to matching the Little Giant in terms of functionality. Users say it's easy to adjust, converts quickly, and stores almost anywhere. Stability is probably the most important safety feature you would want in a ladder and the Little Giant provides just that. Check it out online at Littlegiantladder.com.
Top Rated Extension Ladder:
When shopping for an extension ladder, we recommend stores like Lowes, Home Depot, Sears, or your local hardware store. One of the top brand names in ladders is Werner and they make a variety of extension ladders. The average homeowner needs a 16 foot extension ladder (24 feet is probably too much and 12 feet is not enough) for outdoor household chores. The Werner 16' Fiberglass Extension Ladder, Type I ($129) is an excellent choice at Lowes. It has a 250 lb load capacity, mar-resistant molded end caps, slip-resistant Traction-Tred D Rungs, and stores easily. Users say they like the external guides at the top of the base section which allows for secure interlock of the rails. The gravity spring lock functions smoothly and it's lightweight enough to carry around by yourself. The design makes it easy to adjust the extension ladder and make quick work of projects like cleaning gutters, painting awnings, cutting tree branches, and more. As always, when you are using the ladder make sure it is securely setup before climing to the top rungs. If you are going to use extensions ladders for things like professional painting or gutter cleaning services, get a stabilizer bar attached to the top of the ladder so you are securely in place while doing your work. They cost an additional $20 or so.
Once again Werner leads the way in this category with their Werner 22' Multipurpose Telescopic Ladder which sells for $220 at Lowes home improvement stores. The Werner ladder can be used as either a step ladder or extension ladder depending on your needs. The height adjustment is quickly done using the "J" locks and springs. With 28 adjustable heights and positions, the Werner telescopic ladder will be your best friend when it comes to houseld projects or work related chores. The ladder itself converts into 4 different ladders making the best telescopic ladder we could find. Turns into scaffolding, positions itself for working on stairs, and the soft touch push knobs let you quickly adjust this versatile ladder. It's not only safe and secure, but it stores in small places since you can adjust the ladder based on available space. Owners say they like the versatility this ladder offers with the ability to use it as a twin stepladder, extension ladder, stairway stepladder, or as 2 scaffold bases. You can read more details online at Wernerladder.com.
Per reviews online and from expert opinions, Louisville Stepladders are the safest and most secure on the market. The Louisville Advent 6-ft Extra Heavy Duty Fiberglass Step Ladder ($150) on Amazon.com supports up to 300 lbs. It features a molded top that has slots for tools, and the heavy duty construction makes this the perfect ladder for household duties or jobsite chores. This ladder works great for painting interior walls and ceilings or just dusting hard to reach areas. The slip resistant rubber feet will give you the piece of mind you need on all surfaces. Louisville carries other stepladders made from either aluminum or fiberglass and you can see their entire selection online at Louisvilleladder.com. Wood stepladders are still sold in some stores and cost much less - about $50 for a 6 footers. Sears carries a good variety of step ladders as well.