What To Look For When Choosing A New Ladder

January 27, 2013
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Ladders are an important tool for contractors regardless of the specific type of work being performed. They are versatile and durable. Some contractors do not think enough about the different ladder options available. Using a simple stepladder might not be the best choice for all projects. Each design and model of ladder has different properties that could make completing a task easier or harder depending on the situation. Contractors who are looking for a new or more effective ladder should consider four important areas before making a choice.

The actual design of the ladder is the first thing to consider. The two most widely used designs are stepladders and extension ladders. A stepladder is the typical A-frame design seen in most homes. This design is good for working inside of a house. They provide fast access to walls and ceilings. They are not good for outdoor use. Extension ladders are long and straight with two segments that extend upwards as needed. Companies like Werner manufacture large extension ladders with three or more segments. Extension ladders are used almost exclusively outdoors. They are good for accessing the side of a home when dealing with siding or climbing onto the roof. They are not a good choice for small indoor spaces.

All ladders have duty ratings listed on the frame or on a label. Duty ratings determine how much total weight the ladder can support safely. Duty rating III is the lowest and can only support 200 pounds of weight. This type of ladder is intended for very light housework and not construction. The highest rating is IAAA with a capacity of 375 pounds. The ladder chosen should have a duty rating that will be able to support the weight of a worker along with any other materials or tools. One example is a ladder intended for the installation of drywall. This ladder must be able to support the weight of a worker plus an additional 80 to 100 pounds of weight from the drywall.

Ladders can be made from aluminum, fiberglass or wood. Wooden ladders are seeing a sharp decline in use because of problems with rotting and damage. Aluminum ladders are very durable and last for a long time. The metal resists most physical damage in rugged environments. Aluminum is also conductive and is not appropriate when working with electricity. Fiberglass is becoming one of the most popular options. Fiberglass ladders are strong, lightweight and non-conductive. They also do not rust when exposed to moisture.

The final point to consider when choosing a ladder is maintenance. All ladders encounter some problems over the years when used regularly. A foot might break or debris could damage an extension ladder pulley. It is best to choose a ladder that has replacement parts available. Most designs require that the parts come from the ladder manufacturer. This means Werner ladders will require replacement Werner ladder parts. Attempting to use parts from generic or other manufacturer is not always safe.

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