Every household where some DIY projects take place needs some kind of ladder whether it is a small step stool in the kitchen or utility room or a tall ladder to paint the ceiling or change a lightbulb, or something tall enough to reach the roof.
Ladders were originally made of wood, then evolved into steel, aluminum and fiberglass. Ladders made of steel are most often used in commercial applications like warehouses or big box stores. Aluminum ladders usually have a weight capacity of 300 lbs. and their light weight makes then easy to carry or move around. They do conduct electricity so they are not a good choice for working around power sources. Fiberglass ladders are also lightweight and do not conduct electricity.
Step stools are usually used indoors to reach high cupboards or shelves. They may or may not fold up or the steps may fold into the base. These are handy when you need to reach items above your normal access range.
Step ladders are probably most popular for chores around the house. Step ladders have steps on one side and the back side is strictly for strength and stability. There is also a step ladder with a platform and safety bar on top. Most step ladders have leveling feet that adjust to steady the ladder on various surfaces. Be sure the ladder is seated very well and doesn’t wobble before you climb on it.
Extension ladders have two sections that slide together for storage or slide apart to extend the ladder for higher reach. The extension ladder doesn’t stand alone, so it needs a surface to lean against in order to be used. When determining what height extension ladder you need, remember that there is a minimum safe overlap where the two pieces cross each other. This overlap will affect how high your ladder can be extended.
Multi-Purpose ladders can perform many functions as a step ladder, extension ladder, or scaffold, and still fold up to a manageable size for storage. They may have what looks like two levels on each side as these reconfigure to perform different functions. Follow manufacturer’s instructions carefully when configuring these ladders into their different uses.