How to choose which ladder to use?

What Ladders Should You Get? Extending Ladders, Platform Ladders and Combination Ladders.

How to choose which ladder to use?  

From professional contractors to the DIY enthusiast, ladders are a piece of equipment used so often you will need to do some research in order to choose the correct ladder to suit your needs. This article presents the information you’ll need to know to choose the right ladder for the job at hand.   

There are many different ladder types from step ladders, extension ladders, dual purpose ladders, combination ladders, multi-function ladders not to mention the different materials they are available in. How can you choose which ladder is the most suitable for you? 

Ladders are constructed from several different materials and each type of material may have advantages and disadvantages. It is important to select the ladder that is correct for the specific type of work or application you are involved in. The most common materials used in manufacturing ladders are aluminium, fiberglass and wood.   

Aluminium is a lightweight, extremely durable material which is inexpensive when compared to fibreglass which can be twice the cost. One advantage of these ladders is their lightweight property means aluminium ladders are very easy for a single person to transport, set up and take down. This can be very important when certain jobs involve moving the ladder around to different locations, including up flights of stairs and over long distances. Another advantage of aluminium ladders is their resistance to varying weather conditions. Unlike some other metals, aluminium is not susceptible to rust or corrosion so requires virtually no maintenance. Aluminium and fibreglass ladders also have many safety features such as anti-slip platforms and non-slip feet and treads.  

Fibreglass is a reinforced plastic material composed of glass fibres embedded in resin making it strong but brittle under stress. It is very easy to clean which may be a factor if you are working in an environment where hygiene is important. Fibreglass is non-conductive so is not affected by extreme temperatures and is safe to use if you are working with electricity. Fibreglass ladders are available in bright colours, so another safety benefit is that they are highly visible.  

The designs available in wood are limited and they can be difficult to store and transport. Wooden ladders tend to deteriorate from moisture and normal wear and tear much faster than their aluminium equivalent and need to be varnished periodically to keep them in a good operating condition. Fiberglass and wood ladders tend to be bulky and awkward to carry even for short distances 

The manufacturing processes involved in production are higher than for ladders made from other materials. If an aluminium ladder would suit your job requirements, then their considerable benefits outweigh any other product and is it is also your best option cost wise. 

Types of Ladders   

Single pole ladder 

The traditional single ladder is a non-self-supporting ladder that is non-adjustable in length. Having just one section, this design maybe limited to certain jobs and longer ladders maybe difficult to transport and store.  


  • Available in a variety of sizes   
  • Available in variety of materials   
  • Suitable for individual use  
  • Portable  

Extension Ladders  

An extension ladder consists of a traditional straight ladder with additional sliding sections. These added sections (extensions) provide extra height. Extension ladders usually come in two or three sections, with each additional section overlapping the previous at interlocking locations to make a varied option of heights.  Extending ladders need a structure to support them so are suitable for exterior jobs such as facia work or guttering.  


  • Available in variety of materials   
  • Ideal for outdoor use  
  • Built to carry weights up to 150kg.  
  • Easy to extend   

Platform Step Ladders

A platform ladder is a self-supporting portable ladder that is non-adjustable in height or widths. There is a safe platform provided at the highest intended standing level which provides a stable base for a variety of jobs.  


  • Stable and secure  
  • Ideal for industrial use  
  • Handy for day to day   
  • Easy to manoeuvre  

Swingback Steps 

Swingback steps are a folding ladder, hinged in the middle with a small platform that locks into place. The two sets of legs open to become a freestanding set of steps, set at a fixed angle. They feature broad flat treads instead of rungs which are easy to climb, and the platform offers a useful area to place equipment. Swingback steps are ideal for indoor tasks and light outdoor jobs and are an important piece of equipment both for the trade and the public.  


  • Available in a variety of sizes   
  • Provides a sturdy base  
  • Easy to use, store and transport  
  • Suitable for indoor and outdoor use  

Combination Ladders  

A combination ladder is similar to a standard swingback step ladder and can be ‘opened out’ to work as a traditional ladder, this configuration comes with 2 additional extension sections. This flexible combination allows you to increase the height of your stepladder or straight ladder as needed.  


  • Compact for easier storage and transportation  
  • Adaptable to a wide range of heights  
  • Easy conversion from step to straight ladder  
  • Simple to add extensions  

Stair Combination Ladders 

A stair combination ladder can act as a standard step ladder and can be opened out to become a straight ladder and the rear section has a sliding mechanism. This allows the back set of legs to slide up one rung at a time which changes the height allowing the ladder to be used on uneven ground. This added flexibility means a stair combination ladder is ideal for using on stairs for jobs such as plastering or decorating. An additional extension section is an option which provides extra height making this combination ideal for a multitude of jobs including decorating, hedge cutting and pruning.  


  • Multipurpose use  
  • Ideal for use on stairs  
  • Easy conversion from step to straight ladder  
  • Compact for easy storage and transportation  

Multi Purpose Ladders  

If you are planning on making regular use of a ladder, multi purpose ladders are an ideal choice. They are suitable for a range of tasks and can be used in a range of formats to suit the job at hand and can be used as an extension ladder, a double sided step ladder, a stair step ladder, a stair platform, a painting or gardening platform, a free standing ladder and as a work bench. The multi purpose ladder is by far the most versatile ladder in that can be used in 14 useful configurations. 

You should always choose the right type of ladder for the height and nature of your task.  

Key considerations  

  • Material  
  • Storage and transport  
  • Reach and weight capacity  
  • Versatility  
  • Manoeuvrability  
  • Safety  

For expert advice on selecting the right ladder, including the material, length and weight capacity contact BPS Solutions. Here at BPS Solutions, we’re dedicated to helping our customers find the right ladders for their needs at affordable prices. BPS Solutions offer free next day delivery across the UK as well as a free lifetime guarantee.  

All their ladders hold the EN131 Safety standard as a minimum with the industrial range tested to the higher BS2037. Their industrial strength Class 1 ladders are kitemarked with a 175 kg maximum load. Strong, safe and easy to transport and use this range of heavy duty ladders have many safety features such as non-slip rubber feet, ribbed treads and platforms for a non-slip surface and handrails can be fitted as an optional extra to either the left, right or both sides of the ladder. These standards apply to all customers, both public and trade/industrial users.  

BPS Access Solutions

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