A step ladder is essential for carrying out DIY work or reaching high-up places, and if you're reading this article then you're probably considering buying one! The trouble is, if you don't know exactly what you're looking for then you may find yourself inundated with too much information.
There's no need to worry though, as this article will bring you a concise yet detailed explanation of everything you should consider while shopping. We'll also be sharing our reviews of the best products on the UK market, including lightweight steel ladders, platform aluminium models with handrails, and sturdy wooden styles - all available to buy at Amazon, eBay, John Lewis, and Argos.
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Whether it's for construction and industrial use or everyday household tasks, a step ladder will always come in handy. This section will help you to decide which particular features will be the most fitting for the job that you intend to carry out.
There are a few different types of step ladders on the market and they tend to be designed for specific tasks. We'll run through the most common types here and explain how they should be used.
Front step ladders, also known as swingback ladders, have horizontal bars or steps (rungs) that run all the way to the very top. The steps are only on one side - the front - while the rear side has no steps. The bars on the rear side are only for support, so you shouldn't climb on them.
This type of ladder is meant for use by a single person only and is great for when you need to carry out simple tasks at home by yourself. It should primarily be used to access heights and should not be used for extended work.
Twin step ladders have some of the same features you'll find on a swingback ladder. However, they have the added advantage of being double-sided, meaning that more than one person can use the ladder at the same time.
Twin step ladders should be used when executing tasks that require two people. The rear ladder provides the opportunity for a second person to descend and ascend to fetch tools and other equipment for the job while their co-worker stays in place. This type of ladder can hence save time and allow a task to be carried out more efficiently.
The main feature of a platform step ladder is, just as the name suggests, the inclusion of a platform at the top of the ladder. This kind of ladder can be either one-sided or double-sided and is designed to provide additional safety for the user, while also reducing fatigue.
The integrated platform is suitable for standing on, so you can work on the ladder over an extended period of time. It accommodates both feet and means that the user can stand comfortably while working rather than perching on a thin ladder rung.
A tripod step ladder, also known as an orchard ladder or garden step ladder, has a single leg on the rear side. It's typically used by farmers and gardeners to perform tasks such as hedge cutting, fruit picking, and trimming trees.
As the legs are easier to manoeuvre than those of a traditional front step ladder, this type of ladder can be positioned right next to the area that you're working on - perfect for tasks that require attention to detail! It's also more lightweight than other types of step ladder and can be carried around with ease.
It's important to be aware that if you buy a step ladder without a built-in standing platform, it will be unsafe for you to climb onto the very top step or the steps near the top. There should be a step marked "highest standing level" on swingback and twin ladders, which will help you to choose a product that's tall enough for your needs.
Sometimes this isn't marked though, in which case you'll need to work it out yourself. It'll usually be the step where your knees are at the same level as the top of the ladder, or just slightly below this level.
So, before you set out to buy a step ladder, think about your height (or the height of the person who will be using the ladder most) and take a measurement of your maximum reach. Then, check the dimensions of the ladder and make sure it'll be the right height. This will ensure that your new ladder is fit for purpose and you'll be able to reach the areas you need with ease.
Next, consider how much weight your step ladder can hold - otherwise it may collapse under pressure and cause an accident! Most step ladders will usually be able to hold between 100 and 150kg, which should be fine for the average adult.
However, you should remember that this figure incorporates not only the user's weight, but also the weight of the tools that will be used while working! Make sure that the combined weight of the person using the ladder and their toolbox doesn't exceed the maximum load capacity.
A variety of materials can be used to manufacture step ladders, but here we'll focus on the three most common ones. We've laid bare for you the pros and cons of each material, to make your decision easier.
Wooden step ladders have been around for centuries. Since wood is less prone to damage, such as dents, than fibreglass or metal, it's the preferred material for tradesmen such as carpenters and painters. Wooden step ladders are also less likely to cause scratches on your floors when used within the home. Plus, they don't make much noise when folded and carried around.
However, wood is heavy in comparison to metal and it's prone to deteriorating when exposed to certain weather conditions. As it absorbs moisture, it's no good on a rainy or frosty day.
Metal ladders like those made from aluminium or steel are incredibly lightweight and can be moved from place to place with minimal effort. Weight is often a major consideration when purchasing a step ladder, particularly for people who work alone since they'll need to frequently lift the ladder solely - in this case, metal is a convenient option.
Metal tends to last longer than wood because it's not susceptible to chipping, nor is it affected by weather conditions and moisture. It's durable and it requires only a little maintenence - a bucket of warm soapy water and a cloth will get it sparkling clean in no time!
The downside of a metal step ladder is that it's a more expensive choice. Furthermore, because metal conducts electricity, this type of material isn't recommended for electricians or any kind of electrical job.
A step ladder made from fibreglass is the safest option for electricians or anyone working with electricity, because it's a non-conductive material. It's also very durable and generally stronger than other materials. It does not dent like aluminum or chip like wood, and it's resistant to most weather conditions.
Unfortunately, fibreglass step ladders are usually pricier because the process of manufacturing this material is costly and time-consuming. They're also heavy so aren't particularly easy to move around with if you have DIY projects all over the house.
Click to purchase
6 Tread Fibreglass Swingback Stepladder
Built to Last and Packed With Extra Features
Portable 2 Step Ladder
Durable and Budget-Friendly
Heavy-Duty Fibreglass Swingback Step Ladder
Suitable for All Kinds of Tasks Involving Electricity
3 Step Ladder With A-Shape Frame
A Solid Twin Ladder With Plenty of Grip
Adjustable Tripod Ladder
Perfect for Reaching Inaccessible Outdoor Spots
Aluminium Platform Step Ladder - 7 Tread
Added Handrails Make This a Safe, Convenient Choice
L100 Topline Stepladder
Features a Locking Platform and Space for Your Tools
Solid Wood 3 Step Ladder - White
A Wooden Ladder That's Ideal for Home Use
5 Tread High Handrail Step Ladder
Slip-Resistant and Folds Down for Easy Storage
John Lewis & Partners
Aluminium Folding Step Ladder
A Low-Cost, Lightweight Option
Our top pick is this portable fibreglass swingback ladder by Werner. It's an incredibly well-made product that's built to resist up to 30,000 volts of electricity, so it's a must-have when working around electricity. Fitted with a toolkit holder at the top, it's designed for your convenience.
The bottom step is supported with braces to give additional strength to the ladder, while the stiles can be locked in an open position to provide extra balance. Easy to use, packed with handy features, and coming with a 25-year manufacturer's guarantee, this really is the best step ladder on the market!
You really don't have to break the bank for a good quality step ladder, as this product will show you! A budget-friendly option that's totally suitable for basic tasks, this lightweight product can even serve as a chair if you need to rest between projects.
Since this ladder is made from steel, it's highly durable and less likely than other products on our list to dent or warp. As a result, it'll give you confidence when working up high. The steps are wide and comfortable to stand on, plus there's a handrest at the top. This is a simple but extremely useful piece of equipment to have around at home!
After a simple swingback ladder? We suggest trying this heavy-duty fibreglass option which is resistant to electricity. It's a superb piece of equipment for tasks around the house that require coming into contact with electricity, such as changing a lightbulb.
This particular model has 4 steps but you can also opt for one with 5, 6, 8 or 10 treads if you want something to match your working height. A popular choice for professional electricians and DIY enthusiasts alike!
If you're on the hunt for a small yet sturdy step ladder, check out this one by SONGMICS! As well as being accessible from both sides, the third step at the top serves as a 12cm wide platform for standing and provides plenty of grip for your feet.
The non-slip rubber feet not only guard against slipping, but they'll prevent any damage to your floor. The short frame is foldable too, so it can be tucked away when you don't need it. Plus, we love the black, silver, and orange colour combination!
For gardening and other outdoor activities, we recommend this tripod ladder by Hendon. It's the tallest in their range of tripod products and it's perfect for tasks such as harvesting fruit and landscape maintenance.
Featuring three fully adjustable legs that are designed to maintain their balance on uneven surfaces, this ladder won't leave you in a wobble! It's also lightweight, as it's made from welded aluminium alloy. However, you might want to plan beforehand where to store it as it does sadly take up quite a lot of space.
This platform step ladder by Abbey Ladders has 7 treads that are 80mm wide and have plastic guards to ensure your comfort while standing and trying to reach difficult spots. Furthermore, it has handrails on either side and a tray where you can store work tools and brushes.
If you want to feel safe while ascending and working on a step ladder, this is a superb product that you can rely on! However, it won't be suitable for working around electricity.
This aluminium step ladder by Hailo features a zinc-plated platform which has a locking mechanism for safety. The 130mm deep steps are slip-proof too and the extendable safety rails provide you with a firm grip, helping to prevent accidents.
Furthermore, this ladder has a multipurpose tray for holding tools, a clip for holding brooms or fruit-pickers, and a hook for hanging all kinds of work equipment. It has flimsy plastic fastenings, though, that may break easily!
Multifunctional, with a top step that you can stand on, this is a versatile step ladder that's ideal for home use. Not only is it the perfect size for helping you reach shelves, but it can be used as a temporary chair or even a flower rack. It also folds down so you can pop it into a storage cupboard if you don't fancy having it on display.
Made from solid pine wood with a paint treatment that's moisture-resistant, it can be cleaned easily with a damp cloth. However, it's likely to become discoloured over time if you try to use it for outdoor tasks.
This ladder has a number of great features: a sturdy platform at the top for standing, high handrails for additional support, and a solid base! It also has a flexible spreader in-between, enabling it to be folded down for storage when not in use.
The 5 steps are slip-resistant, giving you a solid grip while working. While this ladder is durable enough to carry out all kinds of light tasks around the home, it's not the best model for executing heavier jobs.
This metal ladder from John Lewis & Partners has 4 steps, making it just the right height for reaching top shelves in the kitchen and other tricky corners. It can be folded flat too, which makes storing it nice and easy.
Since it's made of aluminium and rubber, this ladder is relatively lightweight - but it doesn't feel as solid and secure as some of our other picks. Nevertheless, it does have rubber feet which help to keep it in place during use, as well as high handrails for support.
A step ladder is a foldable ladder that stands on its own without the need for support. It's basically two ladders joined together that look like an inverted V, and it usually has a number of bars or braces which enable it to stay in place while being used.
Since it can stand freely, this type of ladder is the preferred equipment of those who need to carry out DIY or painting jobs, electrical wiring, construction tasks, and harvest work on farms or in orchards.
Ready to get stuck into some DIY? Now that you've decided on a step ladder, you'll probably need a new tool kit too! Check out our trusted recommendations at the link below.
So there you have it, everything you need to know about buying a step ladder. It's always handy to have one around so you can access hard-to-reach places at home or at work. Remember, the most important thing is that the step ladder you use is safe and secure, allowing you to carry out tasks comfortably. Choose one of our recommendations and you won't be disappointed!
Author: David Gbe
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