Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
11/1/22 5:33 p.m.

We have a couple of ladders. One basic extension ladder and one... A-frame type, whatever they're called. The ones you don't lean against the thing you're climbing. cheeky

I don't like either of them, and I don't like heights. Where possible, I avoid using them. But I'm also not going to farm out every task that takes place more than three feet off the ground, so...

What should I know about ladders that I don't? When we had our gutters done they had a neat ladder with a wide U-frame across the rails that rested on the roof surface. This seemed *awesome* for a ladder to get onto the roof, but that's mercifully rare. I think one of the things I like the idea of the best is something whose base is wider, so I feel less like I'm going to slide left or right if I have to reach just a little.

I kinda don't want to pollute my "what should I know?" thread with a guess, but I've been looking at this Little Giant ladder, which appears to be built to a higher load rating than my (unnervingly bouncy) extension ladder, be usable as both extension and self-supporting, and has a mode where it can be self-supporting next to a wall (which relieves me of that worry that the extension ladder will slide on my semi-polished concrete floor.

But what does GRM say about ladder upgrades? What do you use to be as safe and feel as solid as possible while doing laddery things?

Purple Frog (Forum Supporter)
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
11/1/22 5:44 p.m.

Those ladders are nice for average homeowner.  We don't use them in the business because they are so darn heavy to be moving around as much as we do.  Also, many folks get aggravated with the fact it seems to take three hands to release all the latches and not get fingers or hands caught in the mechanisms.

Of course in my trailer are 6, 8. 10, and 12' fiberglass ladders.   16', 20' and 32'  fiberglass extension ladders.  Plus two little 4' guys.   We also have two "roll-around"small scaffolds.  Cheap ladders are too bouncy for me also.  But with all those ladders my opinion doesn't count.  wink

You can buy those "U frames"  standoffs at most big box stores and add them to your ladder.

I'm sure there are good youtube videos on proper ladder safety worth watching.

On a slippery floor if it is an issue we tie the base off to the wall.   Or use a second person to "plant" it.

Being up on them everyday, I'm big on fiberglass OSHA approved equipment.  I also always wear a HANS on the track...  Safety first.

nocones GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
11/1/22 5:49 p.m.

I own a 375lb capacity 22' multiple position ladder.  It is nice.  I believe mine is a Werner but it looks identical in everyway to the "Ascent" brand sold by Menards and I'm sure others.

Fundamentally it's worth learning basic ladder safety.  

There are guidelines for distance from the vertical surface for all heights of extension ladder.   Check what they are.  

Always have the feet of the ladder on a firm surface.  Watch for soft grass or anything that can make them slip.  

Know and respect the "belt buckle" rule.  Never extend you body such that your belt buckle is outside of the vertical rails of the ladder.  It doesn't make it impossible to fall but it reduces the likelihood a lot.  

When possible use buckets with rope, or other hands free methods to get your materials to elevation.  It's possible to safetly Carry things up a ladder but it's hard.  

For standard step ladders (A frame) I find giving the ladder a good side to side shake before you climb makes sure the feet are all flat in the correct positions.  Same rules apply here for the belt buckle and materials.  Use a tray of bucket and set tools on the ladder before you climb if possible.  BUT REMOVE THEM BEFORE YOU MOVE THE LADDER.  Even from 2-3' a hammer or Drill to the skull can be deadly and they surely will break toes. 

Be very aware of where things will fall.  Particularly if you are doing tree work.  A 6" log can easily damage a step ladder and make the whole thing fall or it can easily knock you over if it lands wierd and comes at the ladder.   

For really high stuff I made the $70 investment in a safety harness and shock cord.  When I go up on the roof I throw a rope with the harness attached over the peak and anchor it to my lawnmower on the other side of the house.  They can work on ladders but it's best if they are anchored to something above you.   It would be a big problem for my wife to position a ladder and help me down If I ever fell but a much smaller problem then me laying in a drooling pile after I feel 20' off the roof.  

And that's my last tip.. never climb a ladder alone.  Have someone home to help you in an emergency.  

DarkMonohue GRM+ Memberand HalfDork
11/1/22 11:15 p.m.
Purple Frog (Forum Supporter) said:

Those ladders are nice for average homeowner.  We don't use them in the business because they are so darn heavy to be moving around as much as we do.

I have this style of ladder, though mine is from a different manufacturer, and will second those thoughts. It's versatile enough to be my only ladder, but it's way too heavy for anyone who has to tote it around every day. As an occasional-use ladder for Daddy Weekender chores, it's fine, and seems to be rock solid in any position or configuration. 

wae PowerDork
11/1/22 11:31 p.m.

Love my Hammer Store Little Giant clone for around the house.  I have a 20' extension ladder that scares the crap outta me.

Check your local tool rental places.  I decided to keep the transformer ladder for normal around-the-house stuff and when I need something bigger, I can rent whatever I need.  Don't have to buy it, don't have to store it!

KyAllroad MegaDork
11/2/22 8:45 a.m.

In reply to wae :

My 20' extension ladder sucks when fully extended.  Ladders are built to a strength at their maximum extension and maxing them out makes them more "wiggly".   So if you need 20', go ahead and buy the 24' ladder and work more inside it's design capabilities.    

Another big help is to get leveling legs if you work on uneven ground.  Having the ladder square to the climb is much safer and propping up one leg on a cinder block or some such is a poor solution.


An aside: sketchiest ladder I ever saw was at my hospital, wood and three(!) piece extension.   It was probably 25' long collapsed and close to 60' fully extended.   I can't even imagine, I'll be on the lift

wae PowerDork
11/2/22 9:05 a.m.
KyAllroad said:

In reply to wae :

My 20' extension ladder sucks when fully extended.  Ladders are built to a strength at their maximum extension and maxing them out makes them more "wiggly".   So if you need 20', go ahead and buy the 24' ladder and work more inside it's design capabilities.   

But if I'm going to buy the 24', I might want to go the whole distance there, so I might as well get the 28'.  But if I get the 28, I might want to...   That's what got me in to the 20' ladder in the first place!

I needed to take down and put up the really tall pole at my friend's studio a couple years ago before I realized I could rent the right equipment for cheap.  Even fully extended, the 20' was a bit shy to be able to prop against the rafter.  She had a portable pole platform which was a heavy steel frame that sits about 18"-24" high with a steel deck.  Put the ladder on that and then propped against the rafter.  In the grand scheme of sketchy ladder things, that probably doesn't even rate, but that was off the charts as far as my tolerance is concerned!

Toyman! GRM+ Memberand MegaDork
11/2/22 9:36 a.m.

I only buy Werner ladders rated at 375 pounds. They are heavier and more expensive than the light-duty ladders but the stability is well worth the extra cost and weight. 

My guys keep a 4' and a 6' step ladder on their trucks, I have 8', 10', and 12' ladders in the warehouse for when needed. 

I don't buy aluminum ladders because we are frequently working with electricity plus the fiberglass ladders are a good bit more rigid. 

I also have 2 extension ladders for personal use. One is a fiberglass 20', the other is an aluminum 40'. Both are as heavy a ladder as I could find. I don't particularly like using either one of them. 


dculberson MegaDork
11/2/22 9:54 a.m.

The U frame thing is called a ladder stabilizer. They're great but not usable in all situations. Another big innovation is leveling legs like these:

Werner LevelLok Ladder Leveler with Base Units PK70-1 - The Home Depot

These are the ones I have and they're the Warner LevelLok. I think I pad about $150 and they've saved me countless hours and potential falls. They really make the ladder much more usable on uneven surfaces - which to be honest are 100% of surfaces outside. I have quite a slope around my house and these things make cleaning the gutters way safer and way faster. The only downside is, once you add the 24' ladder's weight to the stabilizer and the leveling legs you've got a ladder pushing 80lbs - spread out over 13 ft - which can be quite taxing to move around a lot. Well, that and the ladder +  legs + stabilizer are over $500 as a package nowadays. Ouch.

The multi-way ladders are great, and I use a 22' version. There are places they are indispensable, but using them as an extension ladder is very hard. You have to extend them fully to their entire length then put them in place, which means manhandling 60+lbs of very awkward ladder in challenging terrain. The weight makes them very stable and the wide base and top really help too.

Even just as an avid DIY homehowner I have at least four ladders. Maybe more, I might be forgetting some. Yikes, I have probably over $1000 in ladders at home.

llysgennad HalfDork
11/2/22 3:23 p.m.

Don't fall.

This was from only 6-7 feet up. Nine screws/3 hours to put Humpty back together again.

benzbaronDaryn SuperDork
11/2/22 4:41 p.m.

Don't cheap out, get the best Werner that suits your needs.  I won't ever mess with a flimsy ladder again.  Think they are 250-300$ for a 28ft.  When you are 20ft in the air your life depends on it.  I gave away all my junk ladders, couldn't ask for money because felt they werent worth anything.  

Antihero GRM+ Memberand PowerDork
11/2/22 9:07 p.m.

I have 2 Little Giant style ladders in my arsenal and they are great for what they are. They weigh a lot but the fact that one ladder can extend to 20 feet, be able to be used on stairs, can be made into scaffolding, can be a 8 ft A frame and still fold down into a small enough package to fit in the truck of a medium sized car if needed makes them super handy.


Really if you are gonna just have one ladder I'd get a little Giant style 

mtn MegaDork
11/2/22 9:36 p.m.

I personally think the average homeowner should have one of these glorified step stools and a Little Giant style ladder. Anything more than those and it's time to farm it out. 

I have a 40ft extension ladder that came with the house. I've moved it in the garage twice. Never going to use it. Also have a Little Giant clone. It's great. It's also super heavy. Hence the recommendation for the glorified step ladder for anything inside. 

grover GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/2/22 10:00 p.m.

I bought a gorilla extension ladder when I was doing roofing. It was very scared of heights at the time and the stability was a big concern for me. I still get sketched out, but my threshold is quite a bit higher after a couple hundred roofs. Thankfully I've been in work from home sales for the last few years and the ladder is just there for the home. Worth the cost imho. 

Jesse Ransom
Jesse Ransom GRM+ Memberand UltimaDork
11/3/22 9:36 p.m.

Thanks, all!

Just ordered a Werner 24' multi-position ladder with adjusters for uneven ground. Er, the Multi Max Pro.

And happily my wife and I have a pretty solid common ground on "don't do anything stupid, and if you're approaching anything at all dangerous, do it with the other one present."

Fueled by Caffeine
Fueled by Caffeine MegaDork
11/3/22 9:39 p.m.

I have a Werner multi position ladder. It's great. 

Load ratings are important to watch. I weigh 230 ish.   A get ladders with 250lb ratings or higher. 

914Driver MegaDork
11/4/22 8:03 a.m.

Guy showed up to look at my roof and whipped out a Telescoping Extension Ladder.  Not worth the money to me, may not fill your needs, but it is pretty cool!


jharry3 GRM+ Memberand Dork
11/4/22 8:40 a.m.

Wear a helmet while climbing.  A bicycle helmet would do.  Light weight and you can strap it on. 

I know two people who fell from less than 6 feet, hit their head, and died.  They didn't expect to die that day.

The older you get the less likely your reflexes will be quick enough to grab something to rotate your body so your feet strike first.  Plus the ladder may be falling with you.

Be sure someone is out there watching you and steadying the ladder.  

Tie off if you can but if you do wear a proper harness.  Rock climbing gear works.  A rope around  your waist not so much.

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