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Last Updated: January 2021
When it comes to those tricky jobs which are just out of reach, a ladder is an essential tool. But, do you know how many injuries are caused each year through misuse of ladders, and bad ladder design? While some of those injuries are caused by human error, many are caused by poor materials and construction. For that reason, I recommend a heavy-duty ladder.
Not only is a heavy-duty step ladder sturdier and safer than a regular ladder, but it is also recommended for big people. A heavy-duty step ladder is designed to take a lot of weight while staying in place. You can also find heavy-duty step ladders, which are lightweight and multi-purpose.
Our Top Picks
1. DeWalt Aluminum Step Ladder (DXL2010-02)
Available Heights: 2, 3, 4, 6 feet | Max. load: 300 lb. | Material: Aluminum
An excellent all-rounder step ladder which can support a heavy load. This ladder from DeWalt is aluminum to keep it lightweight while still being strong. Its 300 lb load capacity holds true for any size you buy, so this ladder will hold you up safely regardless of if you need a 2 feet or 6 feet step ladder.
The step ladder includes extra deep steps, a feature which helps a lot for the feel of using this ladder. Nothing reassures you like being able to plant your whole foot squarely on a step. While the ladder top might not be sturdy enough to double as a step, it is reinforced so it can take your heaviest tools without breaking a sweat.
On the ground you also have nice, wide feet to keep stable support. To enhance that stability, the foot soles are slip-resistant rubber. This is especially nice on the 4 feet and 6 feet tall varieties, where the extra ground contact helps put your mind at ease while working at heights.
2. Louisville Step Ladder (FY8003)
Available Heights: 2, 3 feet | Max. load: 300 lb. | Material: Fiberglass
This step ladder might look small, but it can pull its weight while carrying yours. If you need a compact but incredibly stable ladder, Louisville made this model for you.
First of all, there are the wide feet on the ladder for extra stability, in addition to their slip resistant rubber soles. When you actually climb the ladder, you will notice the extra deep steps. Each one is 6 inches deep to help you keep your footing. Finally, the top is strong enough to act as another step, a rarity with this design of step ladder. The top is molded into a high traction tread to keep you stable.
The size and shape of this step ladder make it perfect to tuck away for easy use. As it is available in 2 ft or 3 ft varieties, the height of the ladder is conveniently small. It also has internal braces which slip inside as you fold the step ladder up, saving on space and keeping them out of the way of accidents.
3. Louisville Ladder Twin Step Ladder (FM1504)
Available Heights: 4 feet | Max. load: 300 lb. | Material: Fiberglass
This is one of those ladders that you will be using all the time. At 4 feet, it is the perfect height for most home use or professional use in residential sites. As a twin ladder, two people can be using it at once, and the step ladder is short enough to do so without any extra safety worries.
Speaking of safety, this step ladder is as safe as they come. The fiberglass construction means the ladder will not conduct electricity. For users planning to take full advantage of the ladder’s 300 lb load capacity, each step is fastened on with double rivets to ensure the weight is safely distributed.
A handy feature is the “Raptor Top,” a magnetic tool tray that snaps into place over the top of the ladder. Instead of having to constantly haul yourself up and down the ladder for more screws, you can keep them in the tray, along with a drill and smaller tools like screwdrivers which also slot in.
4. DeWalt Fiberglass Step Ladder (DXL3010-04)
Available Heights: 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 feet | Max. load: 300 lb. | Material: Fiberglass
Here is an excellent step ladder if you need to do industrial electrical work. The fiberglass construction means the ladder will not conduct electricity. As the selection ranges from tall to very tall, these ladders might not find a home in your house, but are ideal for reaching the highest wires in commercial construction work.
DeWalt equipped this step ladder with a number of simple yet impactful features to make the experience of working with the ladder a pleasure. The ladder top is molded so you can keep loose items like wire nuts readily available and has space for your tools as well. You also have extra deep steps for more comfortable working conditions, and pinch-resistant braces between the ladder rails to keep your fingertips intact.
Aside from the aluminum body, this step ladder also includes wide braces, double riveted steps, and hefty feet, all of which made the ladder safer to use and extend its effective lifespan. For a professional looking to invest in a seriously heavy-duty step ladder, look to this model from DeWalt.
5. Louisville Twin Step Fiberglass Step Ladder (FM1404HD)
Available Heights: 4, 5, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16 feet | Max. load: 375 lb. | Material: Fiberglass
This step ladder is proof that heavy-duty ladders come in all shapes and sizes. Perfectly suited to heavy people who need a ladder they can rely on, the strong fiberglass construction and the heavy-duty steel hinges mean this ladder will last for years in great condition.
The ladder is also made with guards near the feet to prevent damage to the ladder’s support and is designed so the spreader braces slide into the ladder rails themselves, all to avoid accidental damage which could compromise the safety of the step ladder.
Of course, the big sell for this model is how many sizes it comes in. Whether you need a step ladder to access your attic or if you are installing an air vent in a warehouse, there is a ladder for you.
Louisville has its own “Raptor Boot” rubber soles for the ladder’s feet, and while Raptor Boots are also available on other models, it is particularly important for ladders of this height. The soles have lots of surface area to grip with and are made with special wear-resistant materials to ensure you can safely use this ladder again and again.
What To Know Before Buying a Heavy-Duty Step Ladder
Types Of Step Ladders
This is the step ladder which you are most familiar with. It has steps on one side only, and the top shelf is not a step but can be used as a tool or material shelf. It can be sturdy and durable.
This step ladder has steps on both sides to allow two people to use it at once. Be sure to check the weight rating, though it is usually more than that of a standard ladder, allowing it to be used by heavier people.
This step ladder has steps on one side, like the standard ladder, but also has a platform on top which can be stood on. This is a great multi-functional ladder.
This step ladder has an A-frame design with steps on one side and an additional ladder which sticks up from the middle. It is a great multi-functional step ladder for working on ceilings.
This step ladder can be extended on either side. It has multiple configurations and is a true multi-purpose ladder. It is sturdy and great for working on stairs.
A tripod has steps on one side and only one rail on the other. It is designed to fit into places where other step ladders cannot.
Check The Load Capacity
Once you know what type of ladder you need, you should check the weight rating to make sure that you can use it safely. There is a ladder out there for every size and weight; it is just a matter of finding it. The load capacity is provided by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI).
- Type III: 200 pounds (mainly used for home use)
- Type II: 225 pounds
- Type I: 250 pounds
- Type IA: 300 pounds
- Type IAA: 375 pounds
When you are deciding on which ladder to choose, be sure to factor in any clothing and tools which the user will also be wearing when using the ladder.
Fiberglass vs. Aluminum
Most ladder rails are crafted from either fiberglass or aluminum. Both of these two materials are sturdy, durable, and lightweight, but is there one which you should be choosing over the other?
The work you need to do will dictate which material is better. If you are doing any electrical work or working near to any live wires or electrical circuits, then a fiberglass ladder will work better as it will not conduct the electricity and shock you should you come into contact with anything.
An aluminum ladder is more lightweight than a fiberglass one and can hold more weight, making it better for bigger people. Being stronger, aluminum ladders also come in bigger sizes and can generally be extended more.
How To Match The Ladder To The Job
Buying the right step ladder is about a lot more than finding one which can hold your weight and is affordable; you should also be thinking about which ladder is going to be the safest and make your work the easiest.
It may seem obvious that a ladder which is too short is going to be dangerous in the workplace but did you know that a ladder which is too long is also going to slow you down and pose some danger too? You need to choose the ladder which is matched to the height of the job you are doing. However, it is not quite as simple as that.
When checking the height of the ladder, you need to remember that the total height of the ladder is not the same as the working height.
The height of the ladder does not take into account the highest point which you can stand on; it just tells you the total height.
Be sure to check where you can stand on the ladder and if that gives you enough elevation. One thing which you never want to do is to step higher than you should. The turns a sturdy step ladder into an unbalanced one.
Step Ladder Accessories
Some step ladders will come with additional accessories while some will be designed to be used with separately purchased accessories. When you are looking for additional safety or use, there are a few accessories which I recommend.
Stabilizers: These help to stabilize a ladder when it is against a surface and are also great for working around windows.
Level Kit: This allows you to extend the ladder on one side to find balance on uneven surfaces.
Ladder Jack: This allows two ladders to be able to support a scaffolding stage.