The Best Step Ladders of 2022

Need a boost? Sturdiness, quality, and ease of use are paramount when you’re looking for a step ladder you can depend on for years to come.

By Glenda Taylor and Mark Wolfe | Updated Mar 21, 2022 1:23 PM

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The Best Step Ladder Option:

Photo: amazon.com

From tucking away totes on the highest shelf in the closet to cutting in paint edges along the top of a wall, a step ladder is the tool of choice for accessing difficult-to-reach areas. But not all step ladders are created equal. The best step ladders are durable, capable of safely supporting your weight (plus any tools and materials you’re carrying), and sturdy enough not to slip, tilt, or waver while you’re standing on them.

If you’re in the market for a step ladder, keep reading to find out why the following are some of the best choices for household use.

  1. BEST OVERALL: Delxo Lightweight Aluminum Woodgrain 3 Step Ladder
  2. BEST BUDGET: HBTower 3 Step Ladder
  3. BEST FOR DAILY USE: Little Giant Ladders, Jumbo Step, 3-Step Stool
  4. BEST FOR PROS: Werner 6 ft. Fiberglass Step Ladder
  5. BEST FOR PAINTING: Rubbermaid RM-SLA3-T Ultra Light Aluminum Step Stool
  6. BEST LEANING: Little Giant Ladders 13610-001 Green King Kombo
  7. BEST FOR SAFETY: charaHOME 4 Step Ladder
  8. BEST EXTENSION: Louisville Ladder AE2228 Aluminum Extension Ladder
The Best Step Ladder Option:

Photo: amazon.com

What to Consider When Choosing the Best Step Ladder

Unlike straight ladders—the type used to reach a roof or a gutter—step ladders don’t lean against a wall for support. Instead, they fold open to form a pyramid shape, with four feet providing stability. Their steps are also broader and deeper than the rungs of a straight ladder.

For anyone needing a boost to retrieve something from a seasonal shelf in the pantry or installing a rack on the wall, a step ladder will come in handy. Consider the following when shopping for the best step ladder.

Type

The best folding step ladder options will keep users safe as they work. Be sure to choose the right type for the particular conditions and work required:

  • A-frame: An A-frame is the classic step ladder. It is a freestanding ladder that looks like the letter “A” when viewed from the side. Specialized A-frames may feature a telescoping frame for use on stairs or ramps, or twin-steps with steps on both arms of the “A” allowing two workers to use the ladder at the same time.
  • Leaning: Most step ladders are not safe to be used without opening the frame. Lean-safe step ladders are an exception to the rule. They may be used either open or closed, giving them additional useful flexibility.
  • Extension: Multiposition step ladders offer adjustability for different working heights. An extension ladder, however, is not the same thing. Extension ladders are incrementally adjustable leaning ladders that are not freestanding. If you need adjustable height with free standing capability, search for a multiposition step ladder.
  • Platform: A platform ladder is a step ladder with a broad standing surface and a safety rail at the top. This configuration offers extra working reach for projects like painting or cleaning windows.

Material

Step ladders come in four primary materials: aluminum, fiberglass, steel, and wood, and each has specific benefits.

  • Aluminum: Step ladders made from aluminum are lightweight yet strong and durable, making them easy to carry and convenient to use. Aluminum doesn’t rust or corrode as quickly as steel, but it’s not entirely impervious to moisture, so don’t leave it out in the rain.
  • Fiberglass: Electricians favor this type of step ladder because, unlike aluminum or steel, fiberglass won’t conduct an electrical current, making it safer to use when working near live wires. It’s even more robust than aluminum and nearly as lightweight, but it’s pricier. Fiberglass is also the most durable material for resisting rust and corrosion.
  • Steel: Steel step ladders are durable and heavier than either aluminum or fiberglass, so they offer a sturdy base on which to climb, but steel also tends to corrode and rust if it gets wet. A steel ladder will last longer if it’s used indoors and wiped dry if it gets wet.
  • Wood: Before aluminum, fiberglass, and steel appeared in step ladders, wood was the material of choice. Wood step ladders are still available, and they’re often reasonably priced, but they may not support as much weight as other types of step ladders. Wood ladders tend to be less durable since they’re not weather resistant, but for purists, it’s hard to beat the look of a wooden step ladder.

Height

Step ladders range in height from about 3 feet to 8 feet and usually feature three or more steps. The smaller version with just one or two steps is known as a step stool, and these may come with a support handle at the top the user can hold on to when stepping up. On a step ladder, the user holds the ladder’s sides for support when climbing up or down.

If a user must strain their arms, stand on tiptoes, or exceed the tallest climbable step to reach the desired height, that means 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 for step ladders is ladder height plus 4 feet. For instance, most adults can reach an 8-foot ceiling using a four-foot step ladder.

Weight Rating 

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) rates step ladders by the amount of weight they will safely hold. The weight capacity will usually appear in the ladder’s description as maximum weight in pounds, such as “up to 250 pounds.” A ladder may also be listed as a Type I, Type II, or Type III step ladder based on the following weight ratings:

  • Type I will support up to 250 pounds and is designed for contractor and commercial use.
  • Type II supports up to 225 pounds, making it suitable for overhead painting projects and light commercial use.
  • Type III will support up to 200 pounds and is suitable for most household uses.

Load Capacity

As mentioned above, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) rates step ladders by the amount of weight they will safely hold. This number will usually appear in the ladder’s description as maximum weight in pounds. Load capacity is indicated by specific weight limits:

  • 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).

Safety

Ladders are designed for safe, long-lasting service when used as designed. Look for the listed duty rating, shown in pounds. This is the total weight of the user plus equipment that the ladder can safely support. Also consider the material it’s made of. When working around electricity, fiberglass ladders are the best choice. Those with slip-resistant treads are safer in wet conditions.

Think before setting up and climbing the ladder. Set it up on flat, level ground. Avoid working on a ladder in severe weather, high winds, and wet or icy conditions. Double-check that all hinges and adjustments are locked in place before climbing the ladder.

Our Top Picks

Among the handiest of tools, a step ladder will quickly earn its keep in a home when you want to access an item that’s out of reach, hang a painting, or paint your trim. Step ladders fold up to just a few inches thick, making them suitable for storing in a utility closet. One of the following step ladders may come in handy at your house.

Best Overall

The Best Step Ladder Option: Delxo Lightweight Aluminum Woodgrain 3 Step Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

Weighing in at just 8.3 pounds but capable of supporting a hefty 300 pounds of weight, the Delxo three-step ladder is a great choice for most households. Its oversize top step (measuring 9.84 inches by 9.84 inches) offers a 25-inch lift off the ground, which is easy for a user to stand on comfortably with both feet while bracing their legs on the hand grip for balance.

The step ladder’s rubber feet won’t scratch or mar wood or laminate flooring; instead, they offer superior anti-slip protection. Constructed from high-quality aluminum wrapped in an attractive woodgrain finish, the Delxo step ladder spreads 26 inches when open, yet it folds away to a mere 5.1 inches for easy storage when not in use.

Product Specs

  • Type: A-frame
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Height: 3.5 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 330 pounds

Pros

  • Rubber feet built-in; anti-slip protection
  • Oversized top step
  • Hand grips
  • Woodgrain finish

Cons

  • Some assembly required

Best Budget

The Best Step Ladder Option: HBTower 3 Step Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

This folding ladder provides 3 feet of height to help reach items on top shelves, clean ceiling fans, change light bulbs, and more. The 500-pound duty limit ensures a sturdy platform while working with heavy tools and equipment, and the under-$70 price tag makes it a bargain.

A lock-and-open system makes it easy to open and close, with the metal safety buckle automatically locking in place when the ladder is in use. Cross bracing on the back reinforces the structure for less wobble and better support. Wide steps with non-slip rubber treads provide added safety and comfort. At just 1.6 inches thick when folded, the ladder requires minimal storage space. The heavy-duty steel frame makes it a bit heavier than some competitors, but it still only weighs 11.5 pounds.

Product Specs

  • Type: A-frame
  • Material: Steel
  • Height: 3 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds

Pros

  • Lock-and-open system with metal safety buckle
  • Reinforced structure
  • Non-slip rubber treads
  • Easy to store

Cons

  • Some assembly required
  • Some users reported improper balance

Best for Daily Use

The Best Step Ladder Option: Little Giant Ladders, Jumbo Step, 3-Step Stool
Photo: amazon.com

For projects that require climbing up and down a step ladder often, the Little Giant Ladders 3-Step Stool will make the task safer and easier. It’s designed with stair-like steps that aren’t as steep as traditional step ladders, and it has non-slip treads to make it easy to safely reach the top step 26½ inches above the ground, even while holding tools or a paint can.

The extended tripod design makes this steel-frame step ladder one of the most stable ladders around, and its rubber-tipped feet won’t scratch floors beneath. Rated to support up to 375 pounds, this pick from Little Giant Ladders comes with an optional fold-up hand bar with tool holder.

Product Specs

  • Type: A-frame
  • Material: Steel
  • Height: 2.2 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 375 pounds

Pros

  • Non-slip treads built-in
  • Extended tripod design
  • Rubber-tipped feet
  • Fold-up hand bar with tool holder built-in

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Some users report temperamental set-up

Best for DIYers

The Best Step Ladder Option: COSCO 2061AABLKE Signature Series Step Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

The Werner 6-foot fiberglass step ladder is designed for heavy-duty industrial or rugged homeowner use. It is duty rated at 300 pounds of load capacity. Fiberglass rails, plus aluminum steps and edge bracing, provide a balance of strong support. Plus, this lightweight step ladder is only 10 pounds.

Professional-grade features include double-riveted, slip-resistant 3-inch traction tread steps; heavy-duty pinch-proof spreaders; knee-braced steps; and a full set of rear horizontals spaced at 12-inch intervals. The holster top with lock-in accessory system and sturdy paint-can hanger includes holes and a tool tray to help users stay organized while working, and it keeps tools from falling.

Product Specs

  • Type: A-frame
  • Material: Fiberglass and aluminum
  • Height: 6 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds

Pros

  • Suitable for heavy-duty use
  • Lightweight and portable
  • Pinch-proof spreaders
  • Lock-in accessory system and tool tray

Cons

  • Pricey
  • Large size may be hard to store

Best for Pros

The Best Step Ladder Option: Werner 6206 stepladders, 6-Foot
Photo: acehardware.com

This Rubbermaid step ladder is a perfect size for painting hard-to-reach areas but won’t fill up a storage space when not in use. It weighs less than 7 pounds for easy transport and supports up to 225 pounds of load capacity. The working size is 52.4 by 19.69 by 26.75 inches, and it folds to just 3.5 inches thick when not in use, so it won’t eat up any storage space.

The ultra-light design features a one-piece locking top platform and padded hand grip for more comfort and support while you work. Non-marring feet will protect interior floor coverings. A convenient project tray holds a paint can or tools for home improvement projects.

Product Specs

  • Type: Platform
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Height: 4.6 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 225 pounds

Pros

  • Lightweight and portable
  • Suitable for painting and hard-to-reach areas
  • One-piece top platform and padded hand grips
  • Easy to store

Cons

  • Some users report manufacturing defects
  • Suitable for light- to medium-duty jobs

Best for Painting

The Best Step Ladder Option: Rubbermaid RM-SLA3-T Ultra Light Aluminum Step Stool
Photo: amazon.com

When flexibility, strength, and safety are critical work components, this model from Little Giant Ladder Systems delivers. It is fast and easy to configure as a 6-foot A-frame, 6-foot leaning, or 10-foot extension ladder. Rugged fiberglass and aluminum construction is suitable for a wide range of work applications, including electrical and outdoor projects. It has a duty rating of 375 pounds for ample load capacity.

The climbing side of the ladder features wide flared legs for sturdy support. The narrow, functional rear section features straight legs that fit between wall studs or ceiling trusses for easy access to tight work spaces. A rotating wall pad makes working on inside or outside corners safer and gets you closer to your work. It is made of nonconductive high-viz green fiberglass.

Product Specs

  • Type: Leaning, A-frame
  • Material: Fiberglass
  • Height: 6 to 10 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 375 pounds

Pros

  • Suitable for hard-to-reach or high areas
  • Wide flared legs and straight legs
  • Rotating wall pads built-in

Cons

  • Large design may be hard to store
  • Pricey
  • Heavyweight construction

Best Leaning

The Best Step Ladder Option: Little Giant Ladders 13610-001 Green King Kombo
Photo: amazon.com

This four-step ladder provides a stable standing platform measuring 15 by 10.25 inches, 38 inches from the ground. The heavy-duty steel frame supports up to 500 pounds and is suitable for reaching crown molding for painting or reaching top shelves. Safety features include anti-skid rubber feet, a safety-locking platform, wide treads measuring 15 by 1.25 inches, padded side hand grips, and metal crossbar supports.

Non-marring feet protect home floor coverings, and a handy tool pouch attaches to the upper hand grip to keep screwdrivers, a tape measure, paint brushes, and other equipment organized, plus it minimizes climbing and descending the ladder. The ladder folds to just 4.1 inches thick and 66.5 inches high for easy storage.

Product Specs

  • Type: A-frame
  • Material: Steel
  • Height: 5.1 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 500 pounds

Pros

  • Anti-skid rubber feet
  • Safety locking platform
  • Wide treads built-in
  • Non-marring feet

Cons

  • Wide when collapsed; may be tricky to store
  • Heavyweight
  • Some assembly required

Best for Safety

The Best Step Ladder Option: charaHOME 4 Step Ladder
Photo: amazon.com

Projects like cleaning gutters, painting fascia boards, and washing second-story windows require a sturdy ladder with plenty of reach. This lightweight aluminum 28-foot Louisville Ladder extension ladder is a strong choice, with a 300-pound duty rating, full I-beam construction, and D-shaped rungs that provide strong support.

The rope-and-pulley quick-latch extension system and outside slide guides make ladder extension smooth and easy. Safety rung locks provide a safe and a secure hold. Mar-resistant end caps protect walls from scuffs and dings, and give the ladder rails longer life. Thick, rubber-padded swivel safety shoes provide grip and added working comfort.

Product Specs

  • Type: Extension
  • Material: Aluminum
  • Height: 28 feet
  • Weight Capacity: 300 pounds

Pros

  • Extensive reach
  • Rope-and-pulley quick-latch extension system
  • Safety rung locks included
  • Mar-resistant end caps for wall protection

Cons

  • Very pricey
  • Large, heavyweight construction may be hard to store

Our Verdict

A reliable and stable option for everyday use, the A-frame Delxo step ladder is our top pick. This 3.5-foot ladder is made with durable aluminum and holds up to 330 pounds of weight, with rubber feet for anti-slip protection and an oversized top step. Alternatively, for a budget-friendly pick, the A-frame HBTower step ladder has a sturdy steel construction and holds up to 500 pounds. This affordable ladder includes a lock-and-open system with metal safety buckle, a reinforced structure, and non-slip rubber treads.

How We Chose the Best Step Ladders

We researched the most sought-after step stools in their respective categories and discovered that the best models are determined by their type, materials, weight capacity, height, safety features, and other special features included by select brands.

The top picks include a variety of ladders, including A-frame, leaning, platform, and extension ladders. Our featured models are made with durable steel, aluminum, and fiberglass to support 225 to 500 pounds of weight. As for reach, the above step ladders reach from 2.2 to 28 feet for light- to heavy-duty projects, from painting the kitchen cabinets to cleaning out your gutters. As for storage and portability, many of these ladders fold for easy storing and are light enough to bring to job sites or the backyard.

For added safety, many of the step ladders included in our list come with platforms for painting tools and cans, tool trays, non-slip or rubber feet, safety rungs, mar-resistant end caps, rotating wall pads, and safety locking features.

FAQs

Step ladders are handy indoors and out, but first-time shoppers might still have a few questions.

Q: What is the difference between a Type 1 and Type 2 ladder?

The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) rates ladders by the maximum amount of weight they can hold. Type 1 ladders can support 250 pounds; Type 2 ladders can safely support up to 225 pounds.

Q: What is the safest step ladder?

The safest step ladders provide a sturdy working platform, support plenty of weight, and include additional features such as side rails to assist with ascending and descending. The charaHOME 4 Step Ladder was chosen as the Best for Safety pick because of these attributes, plus it offers wide steps at every level.

Q: What is the highest rung I can go up on a step ladder?

The highest rung a user should ascend on a conventional A-frame step ladder is two rungs down from the top. The average maximum safe reach is about 4 feet above the top of the ladder.

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

Aluminum ladders are strong, lightweight, and weather resistant. They are relatively inexpensive, resist corrosion, and are easy to set up. Fiberglass is even more durable than aluminum. It tends to be much stronger and more weather resistant. Unlike aluminum, fiberglass is nonconductive, making it the superior choice for electrical projects.

Q: What angle should a ladder be when in use?

For safety purposes, a straight or extension ladder should slope at a 75-degree angle when in use. This rule doesn’t apply to step ladders because they do not lean against a wall.

Q: How do I keep a ladder from slipping?

Step ladders are less prone to slipping than other ladders thanks to their pyramidal shape, but they can still tip if placed on uneven ground. Before ascending a step ladder, make sure it’s stable (not wobbly) and that it’s on solid ground. Do not climb above the third rung from the top, and always face the ladder when climbing up or down.