A ladder is an essential tool around the home. Buy correctly and it will serve you and your household for decades.

A step-by-step guide to ladders

Ladders are incredibly versatile tools for everything from reaching high cupboards to changing lightbulbs, cleaning gutters, or giving your walls a fresh coat of paint.

Material matters

Ladders are usually made from steel, aluminium, fibreglass, or a combination of these materials. Wooden ladders are largely a thing of the past. Steel is typically reserved for short two to three step ladders due to their weight, while aluminium is the preferred choice for medium to large ladders.

A step-by-step guide to ladders

Choosing the right type of ladder

The type of ladder you need largely depends on its intended use. Here are some common ladder types and their ideal uses:

Step Ladders: These short ladders fold into a slim profile, making them ideal for using and storing inside. They are perfect for little jobs like reaching high shelves or hanging curtains.

Medium-Sized Ladders: Fibreglass and aluminium ladders in this category are versatile and suitable for most single-story homes. They often come with options for basic tool storage on the top cap (the top step), which makes your job that much easier.

Long Ladders: If you’re working at greater heights, such as painting the outside of a double-story house, long ladders are essential. Unfortunately they’re difficult to store and use inside.

A step-by-step guide to ladders

Articulated Ladders: These portable ladders have locking hinges, allowing them to be set up in various configurations, including as extension ladders, A-frame and trestle ladders. However, keep in mind that they can be bulky and require more storage space. Always ensure that all hinges are securely locked before climbing.

4-in-1 Combination Ladders: These ladders can be transformed into different shapes and used with either a two-footed or four-footed base. However, they usually have round rungs that aren’t comfortable for extended periods. These ladders are also a bit cumbersome for quick little jobs around the house.

Safety first

When using ladders, safety should be your top priority. Ladders are classified with a maximum working weight, usually between 120-150kg, as specified by the manufacturer. Always adhere to this weight limit. Also, make sure that your ladder is placed on a solid surface. Never climb above the second last rung of an A-frame ladder, or the top three rungs of a straight ladder – it’s too easy to lose your balance and fall.

A step-by-step guide to ladders
Another common cause of ladder injuries is the angle at which it leans – if it is too steep or too shallow it can slip. An option to prevent accidents is to secure the top of your ladder with a piece of rope to keep it in from slipping.

Lastly, never use a ladder if you’re wearing slops – it’s too easy to trip or slip – you’re safer being barefoot.

When shopping for a ladder, keep in mind things such as what jobs you’re most likely to use it for, how much space you have to store it. Also decide whether you should possibly own more than one ladder. If well cared for, a ladder will last indefinitely and will help you with countless jobs over the years.

Builders has a range of ladders available, both in-store and online at builders.co.za.

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