Ladder Guide: Everything To Know About Ladders!

From fixing roofs to cleaning fans, ladders play a vital role in our day-to-day life. Either you’re a working professional or a housewife, without a ladder, your life wouldn’t have been easy. While selecting a ladder, we ask ourselves many questions like which ladder to choose, which ladder is strong, etc. To solve all those queries, we have created this ultimate ladder guide which will help you learn every important aspect of ladders. This guide will also help you in selecting which ladder type is best for you. So, what are you waiting for? Read this informative guide about ladders now!

What Is A Ladder?

First, we need to know what exactly is a ladder and how it helps us in our day-to-day life. Just like before knowing the meaning of the word Apple, we need to learn what is the ‘A’ alphabet. Similarly, first, we need to know what is a ladder before buying one.

According to Wikipedia’s Ladder Page –

A ladder is a vertical or inclined set of rungs or steps.

In simple words, a ladder is a piece of equipment that is used for climbing up. It can be to the roof, or to the ceiling fan, or anything.

Ladders can be basically categorised as rigid ladders or rollable ladders.

Rigid ladders have self-support and can be leaned on a wall. These are the most common types of ladders. Rollable ladders, on the other hand, are the ladders that are hung on the buildings.

So, now we know what basically is a ladder, let’s move to its history.

History Of Ladder

Ya, I know history is boring. But, let’s just give some credit to the one who got the idea of a tool that plays an important role in our life.

John H. Balsley obtained the first patent on January 7 1862, in the US for the invention of a step ladder.

Ladders have existed before 1862 as well. But, they were not generally easily transportable. Balsley designed the step ladder in such a way that users can fold the back support in parallel to the ladder for decreasing the width, and thus making it easily storable and transportable.

Ladders have existed since the stone age. Some people say that a caveman named Ugg invented was the first inventor of the ladder. Also, ladders have been widely used by tribes to reach high honeybee nests to gather honey. These ladders were made by the use of plants and grass.

The word ladder has been originated from the old Gothic word “hleithra” which means something that slopes. So, it cannot be confirmed that ladders were built 10,000 years ago. But, what can be confirmed is that without ladders, our life would have been a mess. Haha.

Ladder Infographic

To save some of your time, I’ve created this ladder infographic. Feel free to share it with your friends!

Ladder Infographic

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You may also use the above embed code to add this informative infographic to your site.

Types Of Ladders

We all know there are different types for every equipment which satisfies every distinguishable need. The same goes for ladders. Ladders have different categories which are used for their respective purpose.

Based On Concept

I already discussed this earlier. On the basis of concept, the ladder can be of two types:

  • Rigid Ladders

These are the types of ladders that have self-support, meaning that they don’t need to be hung or tied. These are portable ladders that can be leaned on the walls to reach high-ground places. They are made up of rigid materials like metals, wood, fibreglass, etc.

Rigid Ladder Examples: Extension, Step, Folding, Telescopic, Escalade, Attic, Dock, etc.

  • Rollable/Rope Ladders

These are flexible-type ladders that are usually hung from the top. They are made with highly durable ropes which are of good quality and strength. The ropes can be built from wood or metal. The two ropes have the steps/rungs attached to them.

Rollable Ladder Examples: Safety ladder, Fire escape ladder

Based On Design And Purpose

On the basis of design and intended purpose, ladders can be of different types:

  • Step Ladders

Step Ladders

These are the most commonly used ladders. The step ladders are self-supported and don’t require any external support. Great for general home tasks. These ladders can be easily transported and stored.

  • Folding Ladders

Multipurpose Ladder

These ladders have the capability of getting folded easily. Foldable ladders can be used for small to medium heights. These ladders save a lot of space when folded. These ladders can be used for both indoor as well as outdoor purposes.

  • Sliding/Extension Ladders

Extension Ladders

These are non-foldable, straight ladders that can be extended to reach higher heights. Sliding ladders need support like a wall to stand. The movable section is called a fly segment. These ladders are best suited for medium to high heights like roof work, painting, etc. The extension ladders can be easily extended or retracted which makes them easily storable and transportable.

  • Telescopic Ladders

Telescoping Ladders

These ladders are also expandable, but the height can be adjusted by sliding the steps instead of a whole section in the ladder. Telescopic ladders take less amount of space as compared to foldable ladders. Perfect for indoor low height purposes like cleaning, painting, etc.

  • Attic/Loft Ladders

Attic Ladders

These ladders are built for a special purpose, which is to reach the attic easily and safely. These ladders are fixed at the door of the attic. Different sizes are there for respective attic door sizes. The attic ladders are the perfect choice for reaching loft areas or the attic in your house.

  • Platform Ladders

Platform Ladders

These ladders are similar to step ladders. The platform ladder offers a stable platform where the user can stand to do many complex tasks. These ladders can be used for various purposes like painting, cleaning, home maintenance, etc.

  • Orchard/Tripod Ladders

Orchard ladders

These ladders have a triangular-shaped base. Orchard ladders become narrower at higher heights. The base can be adjusted on sloped or irregular areas without the fear of toppling. These ladders are perfectly suited for gardening related works.

  • Painting Ladders

Painting Ladders

These ladders are designed for a special purpose, which is for painting. These ladders also have an “A” shaped design and have a stable platform. The platform can be used to place the paint cans. Painting ladders are perfect for painting purposes.

  • Roof Ladders

Roof Ladders

Roof ladders are also called chicken ladders or even cat ladders. These ladders are extendable and have a hook design that can be used for holding the ridge of a roof. Roof ladders are perfect for roof-related tasks.

Choosing The Perfect Ladder

Selecting ladder

Now, we know what are ladders and what are its types, but the question still comes into our mind is “What are the things to consider while selecting a ladder?”. Based on my experience, I’ve made a simple TSM formula which stands for Type, Size, and Material. Here is the explanation of how you can use this formula:

  • Ladder Type

This is one of the most important aspects of selecting a perfect ladder. I’ve already mentioned the most commonly used types of ladders. Every ladder is built for either a general purpose or a special purpose.

For example, the step ladders are most common and can be used in multiple areas. While roof ladders are only mean for roof-related tasks.

Thus, you need to determine for what purpose you need a ladder and determine the type of ladder based on that. If you’re a professional, I’ll always suggest you go for a specialised ladder. So, if you’re a painter, go for painting ladders. And so on…

  • Ladder Size

You won’t need a heavy ladder for home tasks, right? Similarly, ladders of huge heights and weights won’t fit in your house, right? Thus, after selecting the type of ladder, one thing to look out for is the size and weight holding capacity of the ladder.

The weight capacity requirement of a ladder can be easily estimated on the basis of work needs:

  1. Industrial – Up to 250 pounds of weight. For heavy usage.

  2. Commercial – Up to 225 pounds weight capacity. For professional usage.

  3. Household – Up to 200 pounds weight capacity. For house usage.

  • Ladder Material

The material used in the ladder will also be a key factor to consider. If you’re in an electric profession, then metal ladders will be simply no due to their electrical conductivity. In that case, wooden ladders will be a good choice.

Similarly, for heavyweight tasks, you’d like to consider metallic ladders as they are much stronger and have good friction.

But, wooden ladders have a degradation factor. To avoid it, ladders built from fibreglass can be used. Thus, while choosing the perfect ladder, you should look out for the construction material used in it.

Ensuring Safety While Using A Ladder

Now that you’ve probably selected a perfect ladder for yourself, is everything done? No! Safety is a very-very important aspect to look out for while working on ladders.

The most common injuries which occur while using ladders are bruising, fractures, and head injuries. People face these injuries mostly due to slipping of ladders or people falling down. Also, discomfort while standing on ladder platforms leads to many incidents.

Thus, to ensure proper safety while using ladders, here are some of the safety guidelines:

  • Ensure you are using the correct ladder-type for your work
  • Ensure the ladder you are going to use is in a good condition
  • Ensure there is no disturbing in the environment you’re working
  • Ensure you’ve placed the ladder at a safe angle(~ 75.5°). Try to follow the 4 to 1 rule(i.e for every four feet height, one-foot distance of ladder from the wall). Here’s a small diagram showing this:

Leaning ladder setup

Thus, by keeping these guidelines in mind while using a ladder, you can ensure better safety and avoid hazardous injuries.

Best Ladder Brands

Choosing the right brand is also a point to look out for while selecting a ladder. Here are the top recommended brands which I always recommend:

  • Werner
  • Louisville
  • Little Giant
  • Ladamax
  • Bailey
  • Indalex
  • Bauer Corporation
  • Metallic Ladder Mfg Corp
  • Fakro
  • Gorilla

Please note that these are some of the recommended ladder brands. There is no hard rule that you need to stick to these brands only. You may choose a different ladder brand depending on your personal needs.

Frequently Asked Questions (F.A.Q)

Here are some most commonly asked questions about ladders answered:

Are ladders safe to use?

Ans: Yes, if ladders are used in a proper way, they are completely safe. You may follow the safety guidelines for extra safety.

Are step ladders good for general purposes?

Ans: Yes, step ladders are one of the most commonly used ladders. They can be used for wide applications inside the home or outside the home.

Are ladders easy to clean?

Ans: Yes, ladders can be cleaned easily. If you’re using aluminium ladders, you may even use cleaning agents to make the ladder shine!

Do ladders require large storage space?

Ans: It depends on the type of ladder. Foldable ladders can be folded to make them small in size, thus reducing the storage space required.


So, this was it, folks! I’ve tried to provide all the necessary information one needs to learn about the ladders. This guide has been written to provide key points about ladders in a simple-to-understand format. So, even if you’re new to ladders, you’ll still find it easy to understand this guide.

I’ll keep updating this guide regularly by adding more key points and many more informational images. If you have any feedback about this guide or want to ask some questions about ladders, feel free to comment.


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