Painting contractors know that the interior or exterior paint job on a residential or commercial building has an enormous effect on the appearance of the property. Any type of painting should be performed using the right tools. Beyond brushes, sprayers or paint scrapers, one of the most important of those tools is the ladder.
Choosing the best ladder for various painting demands can be a challenge due to the positive and negative features of selections on the market, so it’s important to evaluate the different aspects of each of these tools in order to choose the model most suitable for your use and budget. So, what’s the best painter’s ladder?
Here are a few factors and features to consider.
Whether made of aluminum, wood or fiberglass, all modern ladder types are sturdy and durable, but fiberglass and wood can handle a lot more weight than aluminum. Because of (or despite) this, aluminum has always been a popular choice because its light weight makes it easy to move around.
Ladders will be getting moved from place to place and room to room, and unless you have a good-sized crew, you’ll probably be the one carrying them, so it’s important to have various ladders that are strong, light and maneuverable.
Some jobs require working on an angle, involve an awkward reach or working on unstable ground, so stability and durability count. Size, style, material and duty rating are key elements to understand when choosing the right ladder for every job. And always try before you buy.
Aluminum ladders obviously weigh the least, but they conduct electricity and should never be used near voltage sources or power lines. Choose a fiberglass or wooden ladder for those work sites.
Basic safety precautions are needed when choosing a ladder tall enough for a specific job. You certainly don’t want to be on one that requires you to reach out or up too far and destabilize the ladder. Even stepping above a ladder’s specified maximum height can increase the chances of having an accident. Extension ladders should always extend several feet above a building’s roofline or your work surface.
Ladders normally bear labels listing the maximum weight they’re designed to support safely. While the ratings assigned by the manufacturers are voluntary, they’re based on safety guidelines published by the American Ladder Institute (ALI).
• Type III – 200-pound capacity: rated for household use
• Type II – 225-pound capacity: rated for professional painters
• Type I – 250-pound capacity: heavy-duty rating
To meet each weight standard, a ladder’s steps must resist any cracking or bending under a test load of up to more than triple its weight rating and pass certain other tests. However, actual and repeated weight shifting and repeated use can add extra stress to ladders. Even a ladder rated to hold 300 pounds can fail under less load if not properly set up and used.
For most indoor work, an average-sized stepstool or stepladder or a multi-purpose ladder is usually acceptable if you only require a vertical reach of up to eight feet. Unless you’re constantly working on cathedral ceilings, most extension ladders are used for outside work.
Multi-purpose folding ladders are designed to be versatile because they can be used as a stepladder, an extension ladder or even a scaffold. These ladders typically reach 12 to 15 feet as straight ladders and offer more rigidity than a stepladder and less storage space than a full-sized extension ladder.
The versatility of this style comes with some added weight, solo maneuverability problems and hefty price tags, especially for models that extend beyond 17 feet.
Extension ladders are the long-time workhorses for exterior painters. They’re commonly lightweight despite their length and pretty easy to set up and collapse, although they can pose a crushing hazard to fingers and hands if collapsed too quickly.
As the painting industry’s major trade group, The ALI has blamed the majority of ladder injuries to improper selection and misuse. However, inferior designs, construction materials and manufacturing may account for a significant amount of those injuries. In other words – you get what you pay for. Here are a couple of top sellers for painting contractors.
• Little Giant 22-Foot Velocity Multi-Use Ladder, 300-Pound Duty Rating
This aluminum ladder offers 33 configurations, durability and stability. The ladder can be used as an A-frame, extension or staircase ladder, a 90-degree ladder or even as a scaffolding system. It was rated the best ladder of 2016 on the Painting Theme website.
• Louisville Ladder Fiberglass Ladder
This 6-foot stepladder is favored for interior painting work, thanks to its 300-pound per-step capacity and dedicated space for tools and equipment. This ladder complies with OSHA and ANSI standards for product quality and safety.
Because ladders are such common, everyday painting tools, many contractors take them for granted. But purchasing a new ladder – as with any tool – should be done after doing some research. It’s important to answer a few questions to make sure you’re selecting the right ladder for the job.