Understanding Which Type Of Ladder You Need For What Job

Best Use of Extension Ladders

Wood, fiberglass and Aluminum are 3 of the main materials that are normally used to make ladders. The choice of material and ladder type to use will mostly depend on your work environment. Choosing the right ladder for your environment should be taken seriously. You might not know this but ladders are the second leading cause of accidental injuries and deaths worldwide. In talking about the different types of ladders, it’s important to look at the duty rating. The duty rating will help you understand the maximum weight that a ladder can carry. There are five categories of duty rating:

  • Type IAA – These are extra heavy duty ladders that can handle up to 375 lbs.
  • Type IA – Duty rating to show that the ladder is extra heavy duty. These ladders can handle up to 300 lbs.
  • Type I – These ladders are heavy duty and can handle up to 250 lbs.
  • Type II – Ladders with this rating are medium duty and can handle up to 225 lbs.
  • Type III – Light duty ladders fall in this rating and can handle up to 200 lbs.

Now that you know the different types of duty ratings, let’s look at the different types of ladders and where they can best be used.

The Different Types of Ladders and How They Are Best Used

Extension Ladders

They are also known as straight ladders and are one of the most common types of ladders. They are mostly used to access hard to reach areas.

Unlike step ladders, they are not self-standing and need some type of support like a wall or tree to hang over. The most common material used to make these ladders are fiberglass and aluminum.There are different duty ratings for these ladders. You can get extension ladders with duty ratings of Type IAA all the way to Type III.

This means they can handle weight from 200 pounds to 375 pounds. Depending on the duty rating, they can be used at home as well as rugged environments.

Step Ladders

The second most common ladder type is the step ladder. These ladders are self-standing and don’t need any form of support to be used. They are among the most versatile type of ladder as they can be used both indoors and outdoors. The materials used to make step ladders tend to be lightweight but strong and durable.


There are 2 common variations of the step ladder;

  • The simple front step ladder and 
  • The twin step ladder. 

The Simple front step ladder has a rung on one side with the other side only available for support and can’t be climbed on. This is different with the twin step ladder that has rungs on either side of the ladder.

Like the extension ladder, they are made with different duty ratings, so they can handle 200 to 375 pounds. They can be used both indoors and in construction areas depending on the duty rating.

Simple tip; when buying a step ladder for indoors choose one that’s foldable or has a versatile design. This helps save space.

Step Stools

These are smaller versions of the step ladders and are made to mostly be used indoors. They are normally made of 1-4 steps and are made to access hard to reach areas within the house. These stools are self-supporting and have foldable designs for easy storage. Ladders of this type tend to have a duty rating of Type I to Type III. This means they can handle 200 to 250 pounds. They are designed to be used mostly indoors.


Telescopic Ladders

These can be considered the modern counterparts for the extension ladder. Like its counterparts they can be extended to reach high places.

The difference is they are built for utmost safety as they contain tab locking indicators. 

These indicators, once locked, protect you from the ladder suddenly retracting as you climb. In addition, they tend to have anti slip rubber feet to secure them to the ground.Like Extension ladders, their duty rating allows it to hold from 200 to 375 pounds. They are best used in outdoor areas and construction sites.Now that you know the different type of ladders and where they can be used, keep yourself safe. Always choose the right ladder depending on your environment. If you would like to buy a telescopic ladder, check out our handy guide here diyladders.co.uk


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                About the Author Tony Benson

                A long-time DIY enthusiast who has vast experience with renovating houses and general housing repair. Always has his toolbox and ladder in his car boot.