Step stools are handy for almost any task that involves reaching up high, from accessing the top cabinet in the kitchen to installing a new shelf on the wall. A must-have item in many homes, a step stool is a worthwhile buy from the get-go.
The best step stools are safe and dependable, so you can expect years of use around the house. They will support your weight and feel sturdy underfoot, and some even look stylish while doing so. To make it easier to select the right option for your needs, keep reading to discover the key features to consider and check out some of the best user-friendly and well-made step stools to make it safer to get to hard-to-reach spots.
- BEST OVERALL: HBTower 2-Step Ladder
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Handy Laundry Folding Step Stool
- BEST DESIGN: Red Barrel Studio Ottman 2-Step Wood Step Stool
- BEST THREE-STEP: Little Giant Ladders Jumbo Step
- BEST HEAVY-DUTY: Cramer Kik-Step Steel Step Stool
- BEST WITH TRAY: Rubbermaid 3-Step Aluminum Stool with Project Tray
- BEST FOR TODDLERS & KIDS: B. Spaces Peek-A-Boost Kids Step Stool
- BEST FOR SENIORS: DMI Step Stool with Handle and Non Skid Platform
- ALSO CONSIDER: Rubbermaid 2-Step Steel Step Stool
Step stools are useful for everyday tasks as well as for decorating, organizing, or renovating. While step stools are a simple tool, a variety of factors go into choosing a suitable option. Narrow down the best step stool for your needs by considering its materials, height, weight limit, portability, and any additional safety and user-friendly features.
Material and Usage
The most common step stool materials are plastic, wood, and metal. Each material type has its own benefits and drawbacks in terms of design, durability, and usage.
- Plastic: High-quality plastic is a sturdy, lightweight material that comes in a variety of designs and colors. Its versatility and durability make it an excellent material for step stools. Shaped into a variety of designs, plastic stools often have a textured nonslip finish. Plastic stools are waterproof and won’t rust, making them a stellar choice for wet areas. However, low-quality plastic can become brittle and crack, so look for a plastic step stool from a reputable brand.
- Wood: Wood is a classic strong material often used to make stylish step stools. Since wood is a natural material, shoppers usually choose wooden step stools for their aesthetic and sturdiness or for sustainability reasons. Wooden step stools are on the heavier side and usually come in basic designs. While wood is long lasting, it’s not the best material for wet environments because unsealed wood can mold or rot.
- Metal: The most common metals used to make step stools are aluminum and stainless steel. Both materials frequently are corrosion- and rust-resistant (although plastic is often the best option for wet areas). Aluminum typically is lighter than steel. Regardless of the metal type, look for nonslip rubberized feet to prevent slipping and floor damage.
Step stools give users a step-up to get to hard-to-reach spots, but the amount of extra height needed varies. Step-stool heights range from around 1 to 4 feet, usually measured to the top step. Step stools come in one-, two-, and three-step designs.
Consider the step stool’s intended use when choosing a height. A short step stool is suitable for kids who aren’t tall enough to reach the bathroom sink (find some of the best step stools for kids here), while a taller step ladder might be necessary for home improvement tasks. Plenty of in-between sizes also are available, which are ideal for all-purpose tasks, such as reaching the top of a kitchen shelf or changing light bulbs.
Step stools have a weight limit—the maximum amount of weight the step stool can safely hold—which generally ranges from 250 to 300 pounds. Some step stools for kids have a lower weight limit, while other step stools have weight limits that exceed 300 or even 500 pounds.
Ensure the step stool has a high enough weight limit to support anyone who will use it. Also factor in the weight of tools or other items that users may be holding while on the stool. If a step stool breaks while in use (especially higher two- or three-step stools), it creates the potential for serious injury. Therefore, it’s often better to choose a ladder with a higher weight limit.
Portability and Storage
If looking for a portable step stool, consider a foldable design. A foldable option is not only portable, but it also can store more easily. Some stools fold flat, all the way to about 2 inches thick. Foldable step stools come in several height options, from one-step stools to tuck beside a bathroom counter to three-step stools to hang from a hook in a workroom.
Lightweight step stools are more portable than their heavier counterparts, so consider lighter materials like plastic or aluminum. Integrated carrying handles make it easier to carry a step stool from room to room.
Step stools often include additional safety and convenience features to make them safer and easier to use. The most common safety feature is a textured or rubberized nonslip surface.
Nonslip feet are a must in wet areas—they’ll keep the step stool in place and also prevent damage to the floor. A grippy, nonslip step surface is a prudent choice (although it can make the stool less stylish in appearance).
Larger folding step stools often include locking latches to help keep them stable in the unfolded position. Hand bars, extra-wide steps, and built-in project trays also improve safety and convenience.
Step stools don’t have to be stored; instead, today’s attractive, modern step stools can do double duty by being displayed or used as a small side table or storage shelving and cleared when needed as stools.
Our Top Picks
To earn a spot on this list, each step stool must be sturdy and packed with safety and user-friendly features that make it easier to gain a bit of extra height around the home. One of these step stools may be your perfect find.
The HBTower 2-Step Ladder boasts several safety and convenience features that make it the best step stool for many homes. With an impressively high weight limit of 500 pounds, it can easily support most users plus their tools. Its strength comes from its alloy-steel frame, which is paired with large rubber padded feet to keep it safely in place and prevent damage to flooring.
The two-step ladder measures 18.7 inches tall to the top step. With wide anti-slip steps, an automatic locking mechanism, and a comfortable handgrip, it keeps safety at the forefront. When the job is finished, this step stool folds flat to 1.6 inches deep for easy storage.
- Frame material: Alloy steel
- Height (top step): 18.7 inches
- Weight capacity: 500 pounds
- Automatic locking mechanism
- High weight limit
- Folds flat
- Bottom step is rather narrow at 7.9 inches
Get the HBTower step stool on Amazon or HBTower.
A step stool doesn’t need a ton of features (or a high price tag) to be useful. Often, a simple, budget-friendly model works. The Handy Laundry Folding Step Stool is a good choice for those looking for a basic, affordable option.
Made of sturdy plastic and weighing just 2.3 pounds, this small one-step stool can tuck beside the kitchen or bathroom counter. It’s foldable, tucking into itself to fold flat and reveal a carrying handle.
Though small, this stool has a 300-pound weight limit. Anti-skid foot pads and a grip-dot textured top surface make this step stool a safe option.
- Frame material: Plastic
- Height (top step): 9 inches
- Weight capacity: 300 pounds
- Easy to carry and store
Get the Handy Laundry step stool on Amazon or Handy Laundry.
While step stools are a must-have in many homes, many are a bit of an eyesore. For those in search of a step stool that puts design first, consider the Red Barrel Studio Ottman 2-Step Wood Step Stool. This handsome two-step stool is made of solid wood in an elegant design. The understated lines and curved accents lend a traditional look to this simple step stool.
The step stool comes in a variety of finishes, including natural options like driftwood, praline, chestnut, and cherry. It has a 375-pound weight limit, and the top step is 15 inches tall.
- Frame material: Rubberwood
- Height (top step): 15 inches
- Weight capacity: 375 pounds
- Solid wood construction
- Attractive traditional design
- Various finishes
- Lacks slip-resistant features
Get the Red Barrel Studio step stool on Wayfair.
For those who need a good amount of height in a small package, this three-step Little Giant Ladders Jumbo Step may be a good choice. This lightweight aluminum step ladder has three wide steps. Two- and four-step models are also available.
Unlike many step stools, this model has a wider design that feels more like a staircase than the narrow steps of most step stools. The large platform steps also feature a nonslip surface, which makes it safer and more comfortable.
The step stool can be used with or without the rotating safety handrail, which also has an integrated tool tray to place small tools. When the job is complete, this stool folds flat for storage. Ideal for the workplace or the home, this step stoop exceeds Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and American National Standards Institute (ANSI) standards and has a 375-pound weight limit.
- Frame material: Aluminum
- Height (top step): 26 inches
- Weight capacity: 375 pounds
- Large platform steps with staircaselike design
- Optional flip-up handrail with tool tray
- Folding design
Get the Little Giant Ladders step stool on Amazon or Little Giant Ladders.
The Cramer Kik-Step Steel Step Stool first got its start in school libraries, so many shoppers may recognize its distinctive round shape and rolling design. Made with public use in mind, this heavy-duty step stool is a very sturdy option. It’s made of solid steel with a scratch-resistant powder coating. Wraparound bumpers protect nearby walls and furniture (as well as the stool itself) from damage.
Unlike many step stools on the market, this step stool does not fold. While it means the stool is harder to store, it has no folding parts that can wobble or snap. Ideal for frequent users, this rolling step stool is a good option to leave out rather than tuck away since it’s on retractable casters, which make the stool move easily. When the stool is stepped on, the spring-mounted wheels retract to keep it firmly in place and safe to use.
- Frame material: Stainless steel
- Height (top step): 14.5 inches
- Weight capacity: 350 pounds
- Sturdy stainless steel construction
- Rolling design
- Protective bumpers
Get the Cramer step stool on Amazon or Wayfair.
If you’re looking for the best step stool for home improvement projects, the Rubbermaid 3-Step Aluminum Stool with Project Tray has a built-in tray, making it an excellent choice for home renos.
This three-step stool features a project tray, which has several indentations and holes to hold a gallon of paint, tools, or other hardware. Users can reach the project tray from the oversized platform top step, which is 29 inches tall.
This step stool is made from durable, lightweight aluminum, so it’s easy to carry from job to job. Though lightweight, it has a weight capacity of 225 pounds. Rubber, nonmarring feet keep it stable on various flooring types, and when the job is complete, the stool folds flat for storage.
- Frame material: Aluminum
- Height (top step): 29 inches
- Weight capacity: 225 pounds
- Built-in large project tray
- Tall top step
- Lightweight, folding design
Get the Rubbermaid 3-Step step stool on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
Designed for toddlers and young children, the B. Spaces Peek-A-Boost Kids Step Stool is a safe and appealing choice for little ones. The wood step stool has a charming design, with a natural wood and bright mint finish. It contains no folding parts, making it safer for a toddler.
Wide, textured steps and solid construction make it a safe choice for kids older than 2 years old. It’s a two-step stool with an 11-inch height, ideal for helping kids reach the sink or for potty training. Two built-in handles make it portable, so kids can carry it from the playroom to the bathroom with ease. Since this stool has a weight limit of 154 pounds, it also can accommodate some older kids.
- Frame material: Wood
- Height (top step): 11 inches
- Weight capacity: 154 pounds
- Sturdy wood construction
- Wide nonslip steps
- Low height ideal for children
- Fun and appealing design
Get the B. Spaces step stool on Amazon or at Target.
Using a standard step stool can be dangerous for seniors who are less steady on their feet. Adults who need a safer option may want to consider one with a handle, like this step stool from DMI. Unlike standard step stools, which require a fair amount of balance to use, this option has a comfort-grip handle that provides a dependable grip.
This one-step stool has a 9.5-inch-tall platform with several more safety features built in. It’s made of durable steel, with wide reinforced rubber feet to keep it steady. A slip-resistant textured surface also helps prevent slipping. Weighing just 8.5 pounds, it has a weight limit of 300 pounds.
- Frame material: Steel
- Height (top step): 9.5 inches
- Weight capacity: 300 pounds
- Sturdy support handle
- Durable steel frame
- Slip-resistant platform and feet
- Harder to store because of tall handle
Get the DMI step stool on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
From reputable brand Rubbermaid, this two-step step stool is another dependable choice for all-purpose home use. This simple and affordable step stool is made of steel fashioned into a round tube design to keep the stool somewhat lightweight at about 10 pounds. Large, textured plastic steps and a top handle grip make it safe and easy to use. To ensure the stool stays in place, it has nonslip and nonmarring feet.
Made for use around the home, this step stool folds thin, so it’s easy to carry and store. With an 18-inch top step height and 225-pound weight limit, it’s a great choice for everyday tasks in the kitchen, bathroom, and elsewhere in the home.
- Frame material: Steel
- Height (top step): 18 inches
- Weight capacity: 225 pounds
- Lightweight steel frame
- Large textured steps
- Folds slim for transport and storage
- Heavier than aluminum options
Get the Rubbermaid 2-Step step stool at Amazon, The Home Depot, or Target.
Making your own step stool is a relatively straightforward product for an eager DIYer with some basic tools. When building a step stool, the easiest material to use is wood, either new or scrap wood in good condition.
Several free, straightforward DIY wood step stool guides appear on the internet, such as this simple step stool plan that even beginners can tackle. Many DIY step stool plans use wooden planks you can pick up from a hardware store to create simple one- or two-step stools.
Apart from the wood, some tools you might need for a DIY wood step stool project include a miter saw, drill, screws, jigsaw, and kreg jig—appropriate tools to cut and join the wood. You’ll also need safety protection like safety glasses and ear protection as well as measuring and marking tools to ensure all the cut pieces fit together.
One bonus of making your own wooden step stool is that you can stain or paint it to your liking. You can also add helpful features, like metal or rope carrying handles.
With a sturdy, folding aluminum frame and impressive weight limit, the HBTower step stool is one of the best step stools for most uses. Those looking for a simpler and more affordable stool may prefer the one-step Handy Laundry step stool instead.
Step stools are a simple tool, but build quality and design set apart an excellent step stool from a mediocre option. To narrow down the best step stools for this list, we considered each stool’s material, weight capacity, height, safety features, and convenience features. We chose a range of step stool types to narrow down the best choices in each category, from heavy-duty step stools for a workshop to lightweight safe step stools for kids.
When evaluating step stools, safety and ease of use were the two top criteria. We looked for high-quality materials and construction, suitable weight capacities, and safety features like nonslip surfaces, hand bars, and extra-wide steps. We also prioritized step stools with user-friendly aspects, like carrying handles and folding designs. Lastly, we chose a few stylish options for those who intend to keep the step stool visible in their living spaces.
Step stools are handy to have around the house for everyday tasks. But if you’re a first-time buyer (or you haven’t given them much thought), you may have a few more questions. Read on for answers to some frequently asked questions about choosing and using a step stool.
Q. How do I pick a step stool?
Consider the intended use, weight limit, and sturdiness of the step stool to narrow down your options. The right step stool for your needs provides a sturdy step, supports your weight, and is tall enough to allow you to reach whatever you need.
Q. What is the maximum height of a step stool?
According to OSHA guidelines, a step stool should not exceed 32 inches in height. For bigger jobs, it’s best to be safe and invest in one of the best full-size ladders.
Q. Can I stand on top of a step stool?
It depends on the step stool design and height. Short step stools are designed for users to stand on the top step. On taller step stools and step ladders, the highest safe step is indicated, so don’t stand higher than this step.
Q. Are step stools considered ladders?
Generally, one- or two-step step stools are considered step stools. Step stools with three or more steps are often considered step ladders; however, some blurring exists between the categories. For those looking for a taller option, we also reviewed the best step ladders.