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Types of Ladders

Ladders are a vital tool for simple repair jobs and everyday industrial use, allowing you to reach all corners of your establishment. However, choosing the right ladder for a job requires considering more than convenience. The wrong ladder with an incorrect duty rating or application can lead to potentially fatal accidents. Understanding the different types of ladders available and their applications, duty ratings, and features provides discernment on which ladders to use for your business or in various areas of your warehouse.

Whether you're looking for a ladder for a specific use or buying an assortment of ladders to start your business, our guide on the various types of ladders on the market will help you make an informed purchase.

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Use the following links to learn more about types of ladders:

  1. Ladder Types
  2. What Are Ladders Made Of?
  3. Ladder Ratings
  4. Ladder Safety Tips

Ladder Types

When deciding which ladder types you need for your business, there are many things to consider beyond the duty rating and intended use of the ladder. For example, some ladders have an A-frame structure, making them more stable on potentially unstable surfaces. Some materials lend themselves better for outdoor use than others, while other designs make transportation and storage easier.

Below is a simple outline for each common ladder type, including their design, use, and typical height range.

Restaurant Equipment

1. Step Stool

For less intensive tasks, consider purchasing a durable step stool. As the shortest ladder on this list, step stools typically have one or two sturdy steps on one side with a second side for extra support. Their foldable design makes them easy to set up, resituate, and store.

Uses: Indoor projects such as painting, changing lightbulbs, reaching high shelves and cupboards

Height: Less than 32 inches per step

Design: Upside-down V shape, foldable with a handle on top, four legs with a bottom support

Restaurant Equipment

2. Step Ladder

step ladder is a must-have for warehouses and businesses due to its versatility. Their self-supporting A-frame design makes them stable away from walls, allowing you to use them anywhere in a room without additional support. Some step ladders have two sides with rungs, while others only have rungs on one side, and most ladders have anti-skid material on the bottom to keep it stable. Since they tend to be shorter, people typically use step ladders for indoor and small outdoor projects. For warehouse settings, check out some of our industrial step ladders.

Uses: Indoor and small outdoor projects, such as painting, decorating, changing light bulbs, and simple maintenance

Height: 4 feet – 20 feet

Design: A-frame with four legs and support bar, hinges to fold for storage

Restaurant Equipment

3. Extension Ladder

As the tallest ladder on this list, an extension ladder features multiple sections to create an adjustable length. As a result, these ladders easily reach up to 72 feet for rooftop access or fixing high ceilings. However, extension ladders do not have support and must lean against a wall or stable shelf. For extra stability, a second person should hold the base of the ladder steady while the ladder is in use.

Uses: Outdoor projects and industrial settings, such as exterior repairs, painting, heavy-duty maintenance, or roofing

Height: Adjustable height, ranging from 32 feet – 72 feet depending on the number of sections

Design: Two legs with no additional support, two side rails with evenly spaced rungs, and two or three extendable sections

Restaurant Equipment

4. Telescoping Ladder

A telescoping ladder combines the adjustable height of an extension ladder and the easy storage design of a step ladder. To change the ladder height, extend the legs to the appropriate length and retract the back when finished. Because of this, telescoping ladders are versatile and can replace a step stool or a two-section extension ladder. Unlike step ladders, however, a telescoping ladder does not have extra support and must be leaned against a wall or sturdy frame.

Uses: Heavy-duty indoor projects and outdoor projects, such as painting walls, cleaning gutters, or general maintenance

Height: Adjustable, can range from 2 feet – 16 feet

Design: Straight ladder with an extendable section at the bottom, two side rails, and evenly spaced rungs

Restaurant Equipment

5. Folding Ladder

Similar to a step ladder, a folding ladder unfolds to rest on four legs for extra stability or extends for extra height. It’s ideal for projects on uneven surfaces due to its stable build and wide rungs. Additionally, folding ladders are easy to compact for storage and transportation.

Uses: Indoor or outdoor projects with uneven ground and lower reach requirement

Height: Adjustable, can reach up to 21 feet tall

Design: Upside-down V shape with broad rungs and hinges that extend the ladder, additional side safety railings for some models

Restaurant Equipment

6. Platform Ladder

platform ladder looks very similar to a step ladder, but its distinguishing feature is a platform placed along the top of the frame. The platform allows you to place items at the top of the ladder or stand on it yourself, which no other ladder supports. Like step ladders, it is self-supported and has one climbable side with hinges to allow easy folding. There are also industrial platform ladders on the market with steps and safety railings.

Uses: Long-lasting indoor or outdoor projects, such as painting, landscaping, installation, construction, or decorating

Height: 2 feet – 18 feet

Design: A-frame with hinges and one climbable side, stable platform attached to the top of the frame, adjustable elements available depending on the model

Restaurant Equipment

7. Straight Ladder

Also known as a single ladder, a straight ladder is the simplest of the different types of ladders. It has a single frame without extensions or hinges with only side rails bridged by rungs. Since it isn’t self-supporting, a straight ladder requires an anchor at the top for safe usage. To reposition and transport it, you must first descend the ladder. However, it takes up more storage space since it does not fold into a smaller shape.

Uses: Outdoor projects, such as roofing, construction, maintenance, or painting

Height: 4 feet – 30 feet

Design: Two side rails with evenly spaced rungs, anchor hooks at the top of some models

Restaurant Equipment

8. Multipurpose Ladder

Also called multi-way or multi-position ladders, a multipurpose ladder has more versatility than other ladders on this list. Its multiple hinges allow it to be adjusted and folded into different shapes to best suit the needs of a project, taking an A-frame shape or resembling a straight ladder as needed. You can even position some models to act as scaffolding. If you have multiple types of jobs and a small budget, a single multipurpose ladder can perform different functions to make it well worth the cost.

Uses: Indoor and outdoor projects, versatile depending on the positioning

Height: Varies, typically less than 26 feet

Design: Two side rails with rungs between, hinges positioned at multiple points along the side rails for adjustment and extension capabilities

Restaurant Equipment

9. Trestle Ladder

A trestle ladder has one feature that differentiates it from all other types of ladders: it can support two people at once. This self-supporting ladder has two climbable sides with an adjustable length and a third ladder extending from the top. Additionally, its foldable design makes it easy to transport and store. Workers often use it to support scaffolding for construction jobs.

Uses: Heavy-duty construction projects

Height: Up to 20 feet, must not exceed the base length.

Design: A-frame trestle base with two climbable sides and an extension section protruding from the top of the frame

What Are Ladders Made Of?

Several types of materials are used to make ladders, each option with its pros and cons. Typically, you'll find ladders made of aluminum, wood, fiberglass, or steel. Before choosing a ladder, consider which ladder material aligns best with the job you plan to do and your budget. For example, working with electrical wires means you should probably avoid using an aluminum ladder.

Check out our list of ladder materials and their pros and cons for help deciding which ladder is right for you.

Aluminum Ladders

Most metal ladders on the market are aluminum ladders, characterized by their lightweight frame and affordability. While this lends itself well to many projects, avoid using aluminum ladders on jobs that involve electricity. This carelessness could result in a fatal accident as aluminum conducts electricity.

  • Lightweight, easy to transport and set up
  • Corrosion-resistant
  • Can be used both outdoors and indoors
  • Affordable
  • Conducts electricity, so keep away from electrical sources and power lines
  • Absorbs heat and cold, affecting working conditions

Wooden Ladders

While much less common than fiberglass or metal, wooden ladders are still a great choice in specific contexts. Unlike aluminum, they’re non-conductive and useable in nearly any setting. However, their questionable durability can be a deterrent despite their affordability.

  • Non-conductive, can be used for electrical projects
  • Affordable
  • Will not change temperatures if left out in the sun or cold
  • Heavy, difficult to transport and position
  • Susceptible to deterioration if exposed to the elements

Fiberglass Ladders

Though they are the most expensive option, investing in a fiberglass ladder has many benefits. They are non-conductive and durable, making them ideal for any project in industrial or home contexts.

  • Non-conductive, can be used for electrical projects
  • Temperature-resistant
  • Durable, will not corrode or crack
  • Heavy, difficult to transport and position
  • Expensive

Steel Ladders

Ideal for heavy-duty industrial work, steel ladders withstand the wear and tear of warehouse use with ease. While resilient, this material is susceptible to rusting if stored improperly. Some ladders are made of stainless steel to help eliminate corrosion damage but be sure to have a safe storage area for steel ladders, or their structural integrity might become compromised.

  • Higher duty ratings
  • Durable
  • Stable and can handle industrial work without being damaged
  • Heavy, difficult to transport and position
  • Conducts electricity
  • Will corrode if stored improperly

Ladder Ratings

One key element of knowing which ladder best suits your needs is understanding different ladder ratings, which play a role in the safety of your warehouse and team. Ladder duty ratings indicate the maximum weight capacity the ladder can hold and remain safe to use. Exceeding this weight limit significantly increases the possibility of the ladder becoming unbalanced and unsafe, so be sure to choose a ladder with a duty rating high enough to handle the weight of yourself and everything you plan to take with you.

You can find a ladder's duty rating on the specifications label or on the Duty Rating sticker on the side of the ladder. For your convenience, we've outlined the five ladder ratings below.

  • Type III: light-duty ladder, maximum weight of 200 pounds
  • Type II: medium-duty ladder, maximum weight of 225 pounds
  • Type I: heavy-duty ladder, maximum weight of 250 pounds
  • Type IA: extra heavy-duty ladder, maximum weight of 300 pounds
  • Type IAA: super duty ladder, maximum weight of 375 pounds

To determine how much weight your ladder needs to carry, add your total weight, the weight of your clothing and equipment, and the weight of any additional tools and supplies you'll have with you on the ladder.

Ladder Safety Tips

When working on or around ladders, unsafe conditions or behavior can lead to serious accidents. From understanding duty ratings to properly inspecting and storing your ladders, it's important to do due diligence when taking care of these vital pieces of equipment. Additionally, follow OSHA standards and provide in-depth safety terms and procedures training to all employees using ladders to prevent as many potential injuries as possible.

Below are a few crucial tips for ladder safety. Check out our complete ladder safety guide for more information.

  • Use your ladder for only its designated purpose. Don't load it beyond its intended weight limit.
  • When ascending or descending a ladder, always face your entire body toward the ladder and maintain three points of contact.
  • Before using a ladder, make sure it's set up properly on a stable, safe surface, especially in the winter. Wear non-slip shoes for extra protection.
  • When using a tall ladder, have another employee come and hold the ladder while you climb.
  • When working on tall ladders, use a fall arrest system to prevent accidents resulting from falls.
  • Keep the area surrounding the ladder well-lit and traffic-free to prevent accidents stemming from negligence.
  • Ensure your ladder is closed properly during transport and storage, and keep your ladder storage area clean, dark, and dry to prevent corrosion.
The information provided on this website does not, and is not intended to, constitute legal advice. Please refer to our Content Policy for more details.

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