The Best Ladders of 2022

Reach new heights when you tackle jobs around the house with a reliable, top-quality ladder.

By Manasa Reddigari and Tiffany Lewis | Updated Mar 18, 2022 9:04 PM

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The Best Step Ladder Option:

Photo: amazon.com

In any home, you eventually have to change the light bulbs, hang art, and keep the gutters clean. The right ladder means you won’t have to borrow one from a neighbor or use a piece of furniture (not a good idea, safety-wise).

But you don’t want to go for the first ladder you see. You might end up with one that’s too short, can’t support your weight (and that of your tools), or isn’t up to the task at hand. Use the guidelines below to navigate the most important considerations and choose the best ladder for your needs.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Little Giant Ladders, Flip-N-Lite, 6-Foot, Stepladder
  2. BEST BUDGET: Best Choice Products 3-Step Ladder, Portable Folding
  3. BEST TELESCOPING LADDER: Yvan Telescoping Ladder, 10.5 FT
  4. BEST EXTENSION LADDER: Louisville Ladder Fiberglass Extension Ladder 32 feet
  5. BEST STEP LADDER: HBTower 3 Step Ladder with Wide Anti-Slip Pedal
  6. BEST MULTIUSE LADDER: Little Giant Ladders, Velocity Multi-Position Ladder
  7. BEST WITH STORAGE: Cosco Three Step Max Steel Work Platform
  8. ALSO CONSIDER: Little Giant Ladders, Select Step, 6-10 Foot
The Best Ladder Options

Photo: amazon.com

Types of Ladders

Ladders come in four main designs, all portable but each suited to different household projects, indoors or out, at low or high heights. Read on for some of the most common ladder styles.

Step

The smallest type of self-supporting ladder, a step ladder stands on its own on a level, nonslip surface. It measures no more than 4 feet tall from the base to the top cap (the uppermost platform).

These foldable, nonadjustable ladders aid in one-person indoor tasks that only need a little boost. Step ladders help users change light bulbs, reach the top shelves, and clean hard-to-reach areas. On most models, the user can climb every step, including the top cap.

A-Frame

A-frame ladders are nonadjustable, self-supporting ladders that measure 4 to 20 feet tall when standing on a level, nonslip surface. This height might make an A-frame the best ladder for home use.

These ladders come in handy for ceiling-fixture installation, first-floor window replacement, and gutter cleaning on one-story homes. A hinged design makes them easy to collapse and store. A-frame models come in two varieties: front-step and twin-step.

  • Front-step A-frames have a single climbable rail with flat steps that successively narrow in width as they get higher. A rear rail, while present, is typically nonclimbable. The top cap and the topmost step of the front rail likewise can’t support a person.
  • Twin-step A-frames have steps on both the front and rear rails. These sturdy ladders can support one or two people at a time, depending on the model.

Extension

Extension ladders require a structure such as a wall to prop up against. They should rest at an angle of around 75.5 degrees from the supporting structure for optimal stability.

Measuring up to 14 feet when collapsed, one or more sections of an extension ladder extend to increase the length to up to 72 feet. Extension ladders rise to tasks like painting siding, hanging Christmas lights, and cleaning second-story gutters.

These ladders contain square or D-shaped rungs, which are considerably narrower than those found on step or A-frame ladders. For this reason, users need to wear shoes with good traction when climbing an extension ladder.

Telescoping

Telescoping ladders are versatile when compared to traditional and extension ladders. Users can extend the length of the ladder by the foot and lock it into position at the desired length. A telescoping ladder usually ranges from about 8 to 12 feet high when fully extended.

Made of either fiberglass or aluminum, telescoping ladders weigh between 16 and 42 pounds. When folded, the small footprint and lightweight design add up to a portable ladder that fits in the trunk of a vehicle or a small closet. When leaning the ladder against the wall, use the 1-to-4 rule for safety: For every 4 feet of height, move the base of the ladder 1 foot from the wall.

Multiposition

The best multi-position ladder (or multiuse ladder) includes hinges that lock in multiple configurations. These models transform into self-supporting and wall-supported configurations, including A-frames, extension ladders, scaffolds, and more. Depending on the configuration, multiposition ladders can reach heights of up to 30 feet.

As the name implies, multiposition ladders help tackle a variety of jobs around the house that may require various ladder types, or a single job that would benefit from more than one ladder type. Painting a wall along a staircase, for example, might require the ladder to lean against the wall at the base of the staircase, then fold into an A-frame position on the steps.

Make sure it’s possible to unlock/lock and reposition the hinges from the ground level. One should not attempt these adjustments while climbing the ladder.

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Ladder

After settling on an appropriate ladder type to buy, consider material construction, height, weight capacity, and extra features. All together, these factors will provide ladder safety, efficiency, and suitability for certain tasks.

Material

Wood, fiberglass, and aluminum are the three most common materials used in ladder construction. Keep the following material characteristics in mind while shopping:

  • Aluminum is the lightest option and least likely to corrode. This metal is among the most effective conductors of electricity; as such, aluminum ladders are not recommended for electrical work or use near electrical lines.
  • Fiberglass, while heavier than aluminum ladders, is stronger and more versatile. It makes for a sturdy ladder. As a nonconductive material, fiberglass ladders will serve users well in both electrical and nonelectrical applications. This strength and versatility usually costs more than aluminum and wood models.
  • Wood ladders are often the most economical, but they’re heavier and may not last as long. Wood rots if left outside and conducts electricity when wet. As such, these ladders work best indoors.

Reach Height

If a user must strain their arms, stand on tiptoes, or exceed the tallest climbable step to reach the desired height, that means that the ladder is too short—with potential consequences ranging from minor discomfort to dangerous slips and falls. As such, it’s important to consider reach height, or the highest point a person can safely access while standing on the ladder. Reach height can be more or less than the height of a ladder and varies by type:

  • Step, platform, and A-frame: ladder height, plus 4 feet
  • Multiposition: ladder height, plus 1 foot
  • Extension and telescoping: ladder height, minus 1 foot

For instance, most adults can reach an 8-foot ceiling using a 4-foot step, platform, or A-frame ladder. To access first-floor gutters (usually 11 feet high), a ladder between 7 and 12 feet is typically sufficient. Those who prefer self-supporting ladders can opt for a 7-foot platform or A-frame, or a 10-foot multi-position model. Alternatively, a 12-foot extension or telescoping ladder can be positioned against the building.

Load Capacity

The load capacity is the maximum weight a ladder will hold. Ladders fall into five categories based how much weight they support:

  • Type IAA ladders hold up to 375 pounds.
  • Type IA ladders hold up to 300 pounds.
  • Type I ladders hold up to 250 pounds.
  • Type II ladders hold up to 225 pounds.
  • Type III ladders hold up to 200 pounds.

When determining the load capacity needed for a project, factor in the user’s own weight, plus the weight of the tools and supplies needed to carry up or store on the ladder (if it has a built-in tray or shelf).

Accessories

Many modern ladders include built-in accessories that boost storage capacity, reduce strain, and protect nearby surfaces. Popular add-ons include:

  • A pail shelf, usually extending from the rear rail level with one of the steps to hold paint buckets or utensils.
  • Ladder caps that slide over the rail ends to prevent damage to whatever surface the ladder is propped against.
  • Podiums, or large platforms that take the place of one or more steps. A podium ladder provides extra foot room during long or intensive jobs. These models are sometimes referred to as platform ladders.

Our Top Picks

The top picks listed below consider the criteria detailed above. They include products in a variety of categories to suit unique needs. Read on to discover some of the best ladders on the market today for accomplishing at-home and professional projects.

Best Overall

The Best Ladder Option: Little Giant Ladders, Flip-N-Lite, 6-Foot, Stepladder
Photo: amazon.com

Looking for a lightweight, versatile ladder that’s simple to carry from job to job? The Flip-N-Lite from Little Giant Ladders might just do the trick. This 14-pound ladder has an easy-release handle for quick takedown before moving to the next job.

A tool-tray top cap holds screws, nuts, bolts, tape measures, levels, and more. It also comes with extra-wide rungs to increase comfort and decrease foot fatigue, so users can work for extended periods. An extra-large standing platform provides users extra stability and balance.

The total weight capacity for the 6-foot Little Giant ladder is 300 pounds, and the maximum reach is 10.3 feet. Flip-N-Lite also comes in 4-foot and 5-foot models.

Product Specs

  • Type: Step ladder
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Height: 6 to 10.3 feet

Pros

  • Ample length and reach
  • Extra-wide rungs
  • Includes tool tray
  • Lightweight and portable

Cons

  • May not be ideal for outdoor use

Best Budget

The Best Ladder Option: Best Choice Products 3-Step Ladder, Portable Folding
Photo: amazon.com

This reasonably priced step ladder from Best Choice Products allows users to focus on the project rather than break the bank on the tools. Ideal for both indoor and outdoor use, the step ladder has anti-skid rubber feet on all four legs to provide safety and support. The steel frame, although lightweight and easy to carry, is solid and reliable.

Each step has a tread that helps prevent slips and falls. A bracing rod within the frame provides additional support. The ladder supports up to 330 pounds, including tools, which users can store on the work platform. Best Choice Products’ step ladder measures 28.7 inches long, 17.7 inches wide, and 52 inches high when open.

Product Specs

  • Type: Step ladder
  • Material: Steel
  • Height: 4 feet

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Includes anti-slip cover feet and a bracing rod for stability
  • Can be used indoors or outdoors

Cons

  • Limited reach compared to other models

Best Telescoping Ladder

The Best Ladder Option: Yvan Telescoping Ladder, 10.5 FT
Photo: amazon.com

Suitable for a variety of jobs high and low, this Yvan telescopic ladder is made with a durable aluminum construction that is able to hold up to 330 pounds in weight capacity. It also comes with added plastic construction for reinforcement and one-button retraction and a convenient carrying strap for storage.

While in use, this model also locks in place on each rung for reliable use at any height. While it does extend to over 10.5ft., you can rely on its slow down design to avoid pinching fingers as you extend and retract. Plus, this model comes with the added advantage of being lightweight at just 19 pounds.

Product Specs

  • Type: Telescoping ladder
  • Material: Aluminum and plastic
  • Height: 10.5 feet

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Easy one-button retraction
  • Saves storage space

Cons

  • Aluminum build is less durable compared to steel

Best Extension Ladder

Best Ladder
Photo: homedepot.com

Boasting serrated, slip-resistant D-rung steps, this weather-resistant extension ladder with non-conductive fiberglass rails offers all the traction, height, and safety you need for at-home or even industrial use.

Many simple, smart features abound with this extension ladder. For instance, the non-marring caps affixed to the upper rail ends keep siding, walls, and other surfaces free of the scratches or dings that ordinary ladders leave behind. The ladder supports up to 300 pounds and measures 32 ft. in length. At 57 pounds, it’s not light, but the weight is reasonable for an extension ladder.

Product Specs

  • Type: Extension ladder
  • Material: Fiberglass
  • Height: 32 feet

Pros

  • Highly durable fiberglass construction
  • Slip-resistant rungs
  • Smooth height adjustment
  • Non-marring caps protect sliding, paint, and bricks

Cons

  • Heavier than similar options

Best Step Ladder

The Best Ladder Option: HBTower 3 Step Ladder with Wide Anti-Slip Pedal
Photo: amazon.com

HBTower’s secure step ladder has three steps that support up to 500 pounds. Extra-wide steps with nonslip treads and an anti-slip handgrip provide enhanced safety and support. Rubberized feet keep the step ladder in place and protect the floor.

An auto-lock buckle on the steel frame locks in place when a user steps on the ladder. A back cross brace reinforces the support. When open, the ladder measures 20.1 inches long, 26.8 inches wide, and 40.9 inches high. It’s well suited to indoor and outdoor use.

Product Specs

  • Type: Step ladder
  • Material: Iron and polypropylene
  • Height: 40.9 inches

Pros

  • Extra-large rungs
  • Rubberized feet and locking function for enhanced stability
  • Collapsible design; easy to transport and store
  • Can be indoors and outdoors

Cons

  • Limited reach

Best Multiuse Ladder

The Best Ladder Option: Little Giant Ladders, Velocity Multi-Position Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

Extra-large, fast-locking hinges and telescoping rails on this multi-position ladder offer multiple configurations: stairway-step ladder, 90-degree ladder, twin-step A-frame ladder, and an extension ladder of up to 22 feet. Not everyone needs these capabilities, but for those who do, the Little Giant earns its place on the list thanks to its sturdy, shape-shifting aluminum construction.

Tip and glide wheels make it easy to relocate the ladder around a room or outside. Little Giant Ladders’ Velocity comes in 13-foot, 17-foot, and 26-foot models and numerous accessory combinations, including a cargo hold, project tray, and a work platform.

Product Specs

  • Type: A-frame, extension ladder
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Height: 13 to 22 feet

Pros

  • Highly versatile with 5 ladder settings
  • Portable design with wheels
  • Includes multiple accessories

Cons

  • Rungs are not slip-resistant

Best With Storage

The Best Ladder Option: Cosco Three Step Max Steel Work Platform
Photo: homedepot.com

Users can keep paint and tools close by on this three-step ladder from Cosco. The ample work platform saves multiple trips up and down the ladder to fetch supplies.

A large platform step with slip-resistant treads and rubber feet at the bottom add to the ladder’s stability and safety. At the end of the day, this ladder folds and secures easily with the one-hand lock/release latch. With a total weight capacity of 225 pounds, the ladder measures 55.35 inches high, 31.10 inches wide, and 21.34 inches deep when fully open.

Product Specs

  • Type: Step ladder
  • Material: Steel
  • Height: 4 feet

Pros

  • Large work platform built-in
  • Slip-resistant treads and rubber feet
  • One-hand lock/release latch
  • 225-pound weight capacity

Cons

  • Raised top handle may get in the way while painting or working

Also Consider

The Best Ladder Option: Little Giant Ladders, Select Step, 6-10 Foot
Photo: walmart.com

For users who need a heavy-duty step ladder, conventional ladder, and a staircase ladder, try this multi-position ladder. A no-pinch standing platform gives users a solid surface where they can work without foot fatigue. The versatile top cap includes integrated tool slots and a work tray.

When it’s time to reposition, users simply tip the ladder and rely on the glide wheels for super-easy transport. The Select Step has a total weight capacity of 300 pounds and reaches a full height of 6 to 10 feet.

Product Specs

  • Type: A-frame step ladder
  • Material: Fiberglass
  • Height: 6 to 10 feet

Pros

  • Ample length and reach
  • No-pinch standing platform
  • Tool slots and work tray included
  • Includes wheels for easy transport

Cons

  • Limited reach
  • Expensive

Our Verdict

Selected for its extended reach, lightweight build, tool storage, and extra-wide rungs, the Little Giant Ladders step ladder is our overall top pick. Alternatively, the Best Choice Products step ladder is suitable for accessing lower points and those on a budget.

How We Chose the Best Ladders

The right ladder in your household tool inventory can save you a headache or two when an odd job arises in a hard-to-reach area. Ladders are also great to have on hand if you’re planning a renovation project, like painting or gutting an entire room.

The recommendations outlined in this guide contain robust construction, high weight capacities, and user-friendly features like height adjustment and tool trays. Many can hold up to 300 pounds while also providing up to 10 ft. of reach for your indoor and outdoor projects. Safety was also a key consideration, which is why many of the featured models include rubberized feet and locking mechanisms.

Tips for Using a Ladder

It’s essential to treat ladders as tools that can cause harm. If they’re not used properly or are ill-suited for the task at hand. Even a reliable, well-built ladder poses risks if it’s not positioned correctly, climbed responsibly, or chosen carefully. First, ensure that you choose a ladder type that can handle the job and has sufficient height so you don’t have to reach too much or stand on your toes. You should also check the weight limit or load capacity; factor in your weight and that of your tools and supplies.

Position the ladder against a structure at the recommended angle (if it’s not self-supporting) and make sure all legs are set firmly on stable ground. Also, maintain three points of contact: two feet and one hand on the rungs at all times.

Be sure to fold extendable and telescoping ladders carefully to avoid crushing hands or fingers. Wear footwear with good traction, preferably work boots or work shoes and avoid using the ladder in bad weather conditions. Here are a few more things to consider while using your new ladder:

  • Be sure you do not climb with your back to the ladder or walk underneath a ladder.
  • Do not use the side rails to pull yourself up and step on the top cap or highest rail.
  • Don’t leave tools on any of your ladder’s steps.
  • Do not forget to lock your ladder in place while you are using it.

FAQs

For more information about the best ladder, check out these answers to some of the most common questions. If additional concerns arise, contact the manufacturer.

Q: What is the best ladder brand?

Little Giant Ladder, WolfWise, and HBTower are trustworthy brands that produce some of the safest ladder options.

Q: Which is better, a fiberglass or aluminum ladder?

Aluminum is the lightest option and least likely to corrode. But this metal is among the most effective conductors of electricity. That means you shouldn’t use metal ladders for electrical work or near electrical lines.

Fiberglass, while heavier than aluminum, is stronger and more versatile. It’s nonconductive, so you can use fiberglass ladders for both electrical and nonelectrical applications.

Q: What is the maximum height I can work from a ladder?

An adult standing can usually reach no more than 4 feet higher than the height of the ladder (i.e., you can reach an 8-foot ceiling from a 4-foot-tall ladder). Consider how you intend to use the ladder and the heights involved in your jobs. Then subtract 4 feet to determine the appropriate ladder height.

Q: How do I pick a ladder size?

An appropriately sized ladder has enough height that you don’t have to reach too much or stand on your toes. Reach height (the highest point a person can safely access while standing on the ladder) can be more or less than the height of a ladder and varies by type:

  • Step, platform, and A-frame: ladder height, plus 4 feet
  • Multi-position: ladder height, plus 1 foot
  • Extension and telescoping: ladder height, minus 1 foot

For instance, most adults can reach an 8-foot ceiling using a 4-foot step, platform, or A-frame ladder. To access first floor gutters (usually 11 feet high), a ladder between 7 and 12 feet is typically sufficient.

Q: What is the best ladder for home use? 

The Little Giant Ladders step ladder is a versatile step ladder that’s engineered to be safe without being expensive. The 12.5-foot WolfWise telescoping ladder is sturdy, lightweight, and retracts to a quarter of its size for compact storage. One of the best multi-position models is from Little Giant Ladders, with extensive reach and adjustable A-frame, extension, trestle and plank, staircase, and 90-degree configurations.

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