Most people need at least one good ladder. Maybe you only need a stepladder to provide a little extra boost to change the light bulbs or reach those upper kitchen cabinets. Or perhaps you need a longer ladder to help you clean the gutters, prune trees or do some roof repair.
We’ve reviewed a wide variety of ladders of varying lengths, styles and price categories to help you choose the ladder that’s best for you.
Types of Ladders
A quick primer on the various types of ladders available so you can decide which one best suits your needs for either home or work use.
These are the shortest ladders available and they are essentially like stools that provide a few feet of extra length to help you reach lights, upper cabinets, and low ceilings. They’re compact and easy to store given their small footprint.
A-frame ladders are self-supporting. They are folded ladders that have a spreader in the middle for added stability. They certainly provide more length than a step ladder and, depending on the length of the A-frame ladder, it can be used for outdoor work as well.
Multi-use Articulated Ladders
These are the swiss army knives of ladders as they are versatile and can be used in a variety of configurations due to their unique design and construction.
This ladder can be used as an A-frame ladder, positioned on uneven surfaces such as a staircase, used as a 90-degree ladder, or even an extension ladder to reach tall heights, such as the roofs of houses.
There’s a bit of a learning curve involved, but once you get the hang of it, this may be the only type of ladder you need.
These are also versatile ladders that are easy to transport. They are collapsible ladders whose height can be adjusted on the fly via a simple push button release.
These are the tallest types of ladders you can buy. They are essentially to ladders in one as you used a pulley system with the attached rope to extend the ladder up to your desired height.
They’re designed for outdoor use as they can be extended up to 40’ in some cases and enable you to reach the rooftops of two story houses. These are the most expensive ladders of the bunch due to their weight and length, and are generally reserved for demanding homeowners and professionals.
There are a few more tips to keep in mind when choosing a ladder that we detail below but first, let’s take a look at some of the most popular ladders, as chosen by users and editors across the country.
The Best Ladder for Painting: Louisville Fiberglass Ladder
The Louisville FS1508 is an 8-ft A-frame ladder that is best suited for indoor use. The Louisville offers great stability and safety for all of your DIY projects.
Imagine you’re painting in and around the house. You need something sturdy that is tall enough to reach most ceilings as well. It obviously has to be A-frame style since most indoor ladders shouldn’t be leaned up against a wall, particularly if you’re painting that very same wall!
And since painting is a bit of a lengthy process, the Louisville comes with slots that can hold your paint supplies while atop the ladder, along with stable steel rivet rungs that provide added foot traction. The ladder’s feet, made of thick waffle-iron pads, provide floor traction to ensure the ladder doesn’t slip.
It has great reviews online, and is available in a wide variety of ladder lengths, ranging from 2 to 12 feet.
Bottom line: This is a good ladder for home use, its available in multiple ladder lengths, has convenient storage features and is a popular and well-reviewed choice online.
The Best Muti Use Ladder: Little Giant 22-Ft Ladder
Need a ladder to clean those gutters on a two story house? This is the ladder for you. This telescopic ladder extends up to 19 feet, providing you access to even the most hard to reach spaces.
Per nearly 2,000 users on Amazon who gave it rave reviews, it feels stable even when on the highest rung, thanks to its stable construction and wide-flared legs.
It can support up to 300 lbs yet is lightweight enough to be easily transported with its glide wheel that lock and unlock into place with ease.
It can be used in a variety of methods and sizes: multiple A-frame sizes, scaffold extension or 90-degree extension. This is the ideal ladder for when you need to use all 22 feet of its height to reach tree limbs and rooftops or use it indoors as an A-frame ladder to paint the walls.
The only knock on it is the fact that this isn’t your grandpa’s ladder. In order to safely operate this ladder, you need to spend a bit of time learning how to adjust it to your desired height.
Bottom line: This is a versatile ladder that’s perfect for indoor or outdoor use. It can be used as a step ladder, a staircase ladder, an indoor A-frame ladder, or as an extension ladder outdoors.
The Best Portable Ladder: Ohuhu Telescopic Ladder
This is a telescopic ladder that is perfect for those who want a lightweight solution that can be used outdoors to reach many tree lines and rooftops. This particular model extends to 12.5 feet, which should give you a reach of about 15 feet.
Telescopic ladders are collapsible. This means that it starts out in the collapsed configuration with a rope securing the ladder rungs in place, and then you extend the ladder to your desired height via a push button mechanism on either side of the ladder.
Moreover, it has slip resistant rungs, an anti pinching one button retraction mechanism, a lightweight aluminum construction, and a 330 lb weight capacity.
You get the benefit of a ladder that’s easy to store and transport around, while enjoying the extended height.
The Ohuhu Telesopic ladder weighs less than 25 lbs and is only 40” collapsed making it easy for transport and storage.
Bottom line: For homeowners who want a lightweight, easy to store, and affordable outdoor ladder that can support a lot of weight, the Ohuhu telescopic extension ladder is for you.
The best (cheap) Inexpensive ladder: Rubbermaid Folding 3-Step Ladder
If you only need a small ladder for indoor use to help give you a little boost to access kitchen cabinets and light bulbs, then the Rubber Maid stepladder is for you.
This little guy can support up to 200lbs and is lightweight and easily stored due to its small footprint. This is the perfect solution for those who have limited storage space and just need a ladder to clean those upper windows or access the upper pantries.
Specifically, it boosts you 27.5” off the ground ( a little more than two feet), it has a comfort grip handle atop the ladder for stability and easy transport around the house, and added traction on its few steps to keep you from slipping off.
Best of all, it’s really affordable.
Bottom line: Great little ladder for indoor use with solid reviews and a price that can’t be beat.
Best Professional Multi Use Ladder: Werner MT-22 Stepladder
Werner is a trusted brand in the ladder space. This is a ladder that can be used either indoor or outdoor as its height can be adjusted on the fly to support different use cases as it extends up to 22 feet and has spring-loaded locks to facilitate height adjustment.
It’s capable of supporting up to 300 lbs, has non-slip feet, non-marring feet so you won’t scuff up the floors or driveway and double-riveted steps with a wide bottom to ensure firm support.
In addition to “regular use,” it can be used as a scaffold and extension ladder as well.
Instead of using a step ladder for indoor use and then buying a separate longer ladder for outdoor use, why not buy a single ladder for both?
Bottom line: Another solid option for those who need a large telescopic ladder capable of multiple configurations, suitable for contractors as well as homeowners alike.
Best Professional Grade: Werner Fiberglass Extension Ladder
This is for professionals, handymen or demanding consumers who need maximum reach. Werner is a trusted and well-known ladder brand that caters to electricians, contractors, and demanding consumers. When you’re life is potentially on the line while dealing with electric currents and/or house repairs 30 feet off the ground, it’s important that you have the proper equipment.
This ladder is available in variable lengths from 20’ to 40’. This particular 24-ft Werner ladder has a Type IA weight rating so it can support up to 300 lbs. so it can safely support you and your gear.
It has a fiberglass construction so you can safely work around power lines an it has a number of additional safety features. For example, it has anti slip safety feet that can be flipped up to dig into the ground for added ladder traction and slip-resistant D-rungs to ensure you have excellent foot traction. In other words, it’s designed to avoid falls at all costs.
Bottom line: Werner is a trusted name in the industry and with fiberglass construction, a host of safety features, and an affordable price, a professional can’t go wrong. That said, this may be a bit more than the avg consumer needs.
Ladder Buying Guide
There are a few additional things you should keep in mind when working with ladders that will help keep you safe.
For ladders that are not self-supporting, aka long extension and telescopic ladders used outdoors, here’s a rule of thumb on height.
You generally want to angle the ladder against a flat surface like a wall or the side of the house, and it should be positioned on as flat a surface as possible. Some ladders have feet with additional traction to prevent slipping or can even adjust to uneven surface but try to choose a flat surface if at all possible.
When angling the ladder, you should stick to about a 4:1 ratio. For every 4 foot in height, you should angle the ladder out about 1 foot.
You shouldn’t really be any higher than the top two rungs on the ladder, and if you’re leaning up against the roof of your house, you should probably preserve the top two rungs of the ladder for its overhang.
Subtract 2-3 feet of overhang, subtract a few feet for the ladder’s angling. then add in your own height and you should get a pretty good idea of the ladder’s maximum reach.
Pay attention to the ladder’s stated capacity. Be sure to factor in any additional equipment that you’ll be taking with you when climbing up the ladder as well. Below are the ratings for the ladder’s stiffness, which basically assure you that it won’t get wobbly the higher up you ascend with additional weight. Here are the maximum ratings:
Ladder Weight Ratings
|Type IAA (Extra Heavy Duty)||375 pounds|
|Type IA (Extra Heavy Duty)||300 pounds|
|Type I (Heavy Duty)||250 pounds|
|Type II (Medium Duty)||225 pounds|
|Type III (Light Duty)||200 pounds|
Ladders should be stored horizontally to prevent sagging and losing strength.
Most ladders are made of aluminum as it’s a lightweight material that is sturdy, stable and rust-resistant.
However, for professionals or homeowners who work around power lines, fiberglass constructed latters are best as they do not conduct electricity.
Hopefully, you found a ladder that suites your needs in the aforementioned list. We covered each type of ladder and chose the best in each category. Lastly, safety first, the US OSHA department has some safety tips you should keep in mind when operating your chosen ladder. Cheers!