There may not be a handier tool to keep around the house than a step ladder, especially if you plan on tackling projects that are outside of your normal reach. Sure, in a pinch, you might be able to get away with climbing atop an old kitchen chair or even putting your feet on your countertops – but when you want to really get to a bit of work that requires you to “reach above your level” you’re going to want to be able to count on quality ladders to help you out.
A lot of people turn to fiberglass ladders today as opposed to the more traditional wooden ladders that are available, and that’s understandable. Fiberglass ladders are amazingly strong, ridiculously lightweight, and come in a lot of different form factors. At the same time, there are a lot of instances where a wooden ladder is best – especially if that’s what you have on hand!
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Important things to think about when buying wood ladders
If you’re going to be using wooded ladders, however, you’re going to want to make sure that you are set up to use them safely, that you are using them appropriately, and that you are maximizing their fullest potential without ever putting yourself in any sticky situations.
Here are a handful of important things you’re going to want to focus on!
What kind of work are you looking to tackle?
The first thing that you’re going to want to do when choosing a wooden ladder to help you out is to break down the kind of project you’re going to tackle in the first place. There are all kinds of ladders out there and most of them are “purpose built”.
For example, a step ladder is self-supporting and amazingly flexible for most any of the common tasks you’d need a ladder for, whereas straight ladders or extension ladders are more specialty ladders and will require a little bit of extra consideration.
It’s difficult to come across adjustable wooden ladders (for obvious reasons), but every now and then you’ll come across an ingenious solution that meets your needs. For the most part, you’ll want to stick to wooden step ladders to get the job done in 99.9% of situations where it
Just how long of a ladder are you going to need?
Secondly, you’re going to want to think about how long of a ladder you’re going to need to take advantage of. The longer the ladder, the more instability it is naturally going to have, and the more you’re going to have to focus on safety before you climb aboard and start using it.
They make would ladders in a variety of different lengths and sizes, though you’ll almost always find that the longest ladders on the market are made out of fiberglass or aluminum – materials that have a higher strength to weight ratio and can be extended out to further distances than would ladders would usually be able to handle.
The size of your ladder is going to be directly dependent upon the kinds of projects you hope to tackle. A 6 foot wooden stepladder is going to meet most any need around the house, whereas a 20 foot straight ladder might be something that you’ll only need if you plan on doing a bit of roofing.
What is the “Duty Rating” of your wooden ladders?
The duty rating of wooden ladders can get quite high and is something that you’re going to want to really zero in on before you purchase one. You’re going to want to look for one that is quite high, one that can effortlessly accommodate 250 pounds, and one that is going to provide you with the kind of safety, security, and stability that you need.
Look for Type IA or Type I ladders if possible, though Type II and Type III ladders they be able to accommodate your specific needs in specific situations.
Wood ladders are traditionally much heavier than fiberglass ladders
One of the reasons people have tended to shy away from wooden ladders (and certainly one of the reasons that so many people turn to fiberglass ladders today) is because they are usually a little bit on the heavier side of things – especially if they’ve gotten wet.
With a step ladder that’s only going to get you up 6 feet and isn’t going to be made out of the heaviest stock available this isn’t going to be that big of a deal, but when you’re talking about a larger straight ladder you could be talking about some serious muscle needed to maneuver it around the yard.
Always focus on the quality and condition of your wooden ladder before using them
Obviously, you’re going to need to make sure that your wooden ladder is in the best possible shape before you climb upon it – especially if you’re going out with a load over your shoulders. Look over the ladder for any dings, dents, and other obvious signs of damage, and make sure that you listen for any creaks, groans, or cracks that might mean you’re going to be in a sticky situation soon.
The last thing that you want to do is snap through a step or two on a wooden ladder, sending you crashing at record speed back down to earth.
Wooden ladders need to be stored differently than fiberglass ladders
As mentioned above, wooden ladders are going to react differently to atmospheric pressure, humidity, and are certainly going to change if they get wet. You’re going to need to make sure that they are stored indoors and out of the weather, and that they are stored up on racks so that they don’t soak up any moisture from the ground, either.
Always stay safe, regardless of the kinds of ladders that you’re using
At the end of the day, just make sure that you are using your ladder as safely as possible. Really focus on setting up properly, take advantage of any and all safety locks, and make sure that you’re using leg levers and feet with teeth at every opportunity. You don’t want to find yourself in a sticky situation when you’re up on a ladder – wooden or otherwise – that’s for sure!