How to Choose a Suitable Step Ladder?

how to choose a step ladder with the right height

I am going to share with you how to really choose a step ladder that is suitable for your needs, so that you, don’t end up buying the wrong type of step ladders. Honestly, most step ladders would be suitable for your general use, and usually, we would suggest people to buy higher step ladder than lower step ladders.

The worst thing that you want is to have a step ladder that is not tall enough, and you have to figure out where to store and keep the step ladder, which is going to end up not being used. And sooner or later, you will be giving it away to your friends or neighours who need it (or someone who can make use of it.

Let’s go!

What Kind of Work that You Intend to Use the Step Ladder For

This should be pretty obvious. Are you just looking for a step ladder to reach up the lights, just to change some bulbs? Or just to reach up to the ceiling fan or airconditioner to clean the dust off the fins? Or just to reach up and do some general works? Then buying an aluminium step ladder is good enough for your purpose.

But if you intend to use your step ladder to do some general electrical, DIY wiring works, then our selection of fiberglass ladders are suitable for you. Fiberglass are non-conductive, hence in the event you made a mistake while during the wiring works, you can be sure that your safety is not being compromised.

No one wants to be electrocuted, right?

It can be a good idea to really not use aluminium ladders for electric works. If you ever forgot to turn off or disconnect the power source while wiring the lights, you will see a spark and hear a loud exploding noise. The noise is loud ( in fact, there is no soft, electrical shorting noise, as the energy is great).

So, if you are going to use your step ladder for mostly electrical works, go for a fiberglass ladder. And if you intend to use it for some normal, general usage, then stick with aluminium ladders.

What is the Weight of the Person Using the Step Ladder

Next, consider the weight of the person who is going to use the climbing up and down.

Each step ladder is built using certain load and weight range. They are typically built to withstand the load of 90 kg and above. Some cheapo China-made ladders are not built to any standards of weights, and they can be risky trial and error.

If you are slim and petite girl, weighting less than 60 kg, there is no doubt that any light-weight step ladder is going to suit you just fine. Go with a minium 90kg load rated step ladder. That would give you a solid steps while you are doing your work at heights.

If you are a slim and tough guy, weighing up to 80 kg, a 90kg rated step ladder is still fine if the work is light. But if the work is heavy with a lot of moving, and shaking, then the lowly rated step ladders is really not suitable and solid enough for you. The step ladder will be wobbly if you insist to clim on it. For you, a step ladder that is above 100kg rating, will be more suitable. Especially when you are working alone. A wobbly step ladder really give you an riskly and unsecure feeling.

For big guys doing real tough work such as drilling, painting, renovation, installing lights, curtain railings, etc, go for a step ladder that can take 150kg. These step ladders would give you the most solid feeling. It will be able to take the shock or the work that you are doing without losing stability and being wobbly.

If you are using the step ladder of the incorrect rating, you will end up dissapointed with the step ladder. Let’s say for example, you are a guy who is 95 kg, and you are using a step ladder that you bought from a common hardware stores that is rated at 80kg —- let me just reel off topic for a minute.

Tricks of the Trade at Folksy Hardware Stores

The hardware stores are great places to buy your piping materials, nails, etc, and you can also buy a stepladder there.

But bear in mind, each time you buy a step ladder there, they will not inform you what is the rating of the step ladder. And usually, like all hardware store that supply and keep low-priced materials and equipment, they would do their best to carry only value priced materials. Hence, they will also be stocking up on the low-priced step ladders. These stepladder are often times good step ladders as well, but — the load rating is generally much lower such as at 80kg only.

Generally, only men visit hardware stores, and are generally heaviliy bodied. The step ladder would work fine for those who are 80kg standing on 80kg step ladders. But when you carry your tools and climb on top, and climb up and down, the step ladder will wobble alot. Soon, you will find the step ladder that you just bought from the hardware store will be unusable and too wobbly to use. And you would have to spend money to buy another one, dismayed by the low quality build of the step ladders.

The reason is really simple, as an 80kg stepladder is actually rated for 80 kg of static load. Static load here means that the load is 80 kg and does not move around. In short, when they load test their step ladders, they place a large bodied block of metal, or lead onto the step ladder, and left it there for weeks. With no movements, the joints of the step ladders are not affected, and the step ladder will remain stable.

But as we all know, no one stands on a step ladder and does not move around, right? So, eventhough the step ladder is exactly rated for your weight, it does not mean that the step ladder can take absorb the heavy movements that you are placing on it.

What would be the right step ladder for you then? Go for one that is at least rated at 95kg heavy duty. These step ladders will be good for you. For rough work, go for step ladders that are rated 125kg or 150kg. These step ladders would tend to last a long time.

So, this is how hardware stores make their money from step ladders. When you request for a step ladder, they will sell a step ladder to you, but they will not disclose to you what is the rating of the step ladder (some store assistant don’t even know). As the step ladder is not suited for your weight, very quickly that stepladder will be too wobbly, and would have to be thrown away. Then they will be able to sell you another stepladder, a much more expensive step ladder this time around. So, instead of 1 sales, they get 2 sales instead. Let’s face it, when you need a step ladder, pilling chairs on top of table is simply not going to do it. You will end up paying more when you opt for the lower – cheapo priced step ladders. And the hardware store gets to sell you 2 step ladders for the a much higher combined sales value.

The odd thing is, some customers would wear out that unsuitably load rated step ladder, and buy the same step ladder over and over again. They would buy the same model of step ladder 3 to 5 times, and each time have to replace them. The excuse they use is usually because the step ladder is much cheaper, and that is all they can afford to pay for. Eventhough it is clear that paying up for a better and stronger step ladder is the best way to go about it.

I would suggest any step ladder purchaser to find out the load rating of their step ladder, so that you buy the correct ladder, and save money in the long run. This would also keep the world a greener place.

One More Reason Why a Correctly Load Rated Step Ladder is Important

Have you even notice some step ladders, with their steps bent? This is also because the step ladder used is not rated for the person using it. The steps are designed for 80kg, and have a 90kg man standing on it, and as soon as you step on it, the steps are bent, rendering the step ladder unsafe and unusable. Hence, that’s one more reason why you should pick the correctly rated step ladder.

Saving a few bucks now, will cause you to lose a lot more money in the future. Just imagine that you just bought you ladder, the delivery guy handed you the stepladder, and you about it up into the A shape and stepped on it going up. Everything is fine and good, and then when you go down, one of the step is bent. No return and no refunds for badly choosen ladder because the problem is not due to the ladder, rather it is due to the wrong weighting choice for the ladder.

This would only make your purchase unpleasant, and you will swear never to buy anything from that hardware store again. And you will have to go around looking for a realiable stepladder from some other places instead. Isn’t that creating unnecessary work for yourself?

Consider the Weight of the Load You are Carrying on the Step Ladder as Well

Let’s say you want a step ladder for your office or warehouse use. And one day your boss request you to go and tidy up the storage areas. You would have to carry the boxes filled with papers or metals, or parts up the step ladders. If the box is heavy, up to 10kg – 20 kg, this load add on to your body load as well. So, if you are are 90 kg, another 10 kg load added on is 100 kg. For this instance, go for a properly rated 150kg step ladder. Always consider the load that you will be carrying up the step ladder. For small office folders and files which weight 2 kg max. then this will not be a major consideration. But for storage or warehouses, do consider the weight of the load that you intend to carry on the step ladder.

How Should You Decide on the Height of the Ladder to be Purchased?

Before you start buying yourself a step ladder, consider how high a step ladder do you want to have.

Take a measurement tape and measure the distance from the ground to the object that you want to reach to, say for example a light bulb as in the infographic here. We will call this measured distance Maximum Working Height.

how to choose the ladder with the right height

As a typical Malaysia is more or less about 1.5 meter to 1.7 meter height, then just deduct 1.0 meter from your Maximum Working Height. So, let’s say for example the light bulb is 3.0 meters high, just deduct 1.0 meter, and the “A” Type Height of the step ladder that you should buy is 2.0 meter. Always buy a step ladder that is slighly higher

That is easy isn’t it?

Then as you browse through our selection of step ladders, just pick the ladder with the “A” type height. Take note of the number of steps ( eg: 8 steps) so that you can easily remember it, and you can choose it when you add it to your shopping cart and also during checkout.

Why can’t you step on the Highest Step or Rung of the Step Ladder?

There is a common mis-understanding that you can actually use a step ladder to it full-height. Always leave two step bars on when you buy a step ladder. These remaining 2 steps gives you the support for your knees and place for you to hold on to with you hand.

Always try to avoid stepping onto the highest last step of the stepladder for maximum safety. A ladder will be wobbly and shaky if you step onto the very last stepping bar of the ladder. And if you are to loose your footing, you will have nothing to grab on to, and risk falling down. And that is something you want to absolutely avoid.

What Have We Learnt?

I have shared with you the how you can easily choose a suitable ladder for the work that you are performing.

Take note of:

  • What kind of work will you be doing?
  • Does it need to be wire-works, electrical proof?
  • How heavy is the person climbing the ladder?
  • How heavy is the item you are bring up the ladder?
  • How high should the ladder be?
  • Add to the step ladder to Cart, and Checkout for payment.

Any Other Tips & Advice?

Always choose a step ladder which is higher than the calculated “A” Type Height. That would give you the safest and most stable stepping ladder.

And of course, you can also buy a step ladder is much higher, so that you can use the same step ladder for different purposes. Some lights bulbs hangs much lower than the ceiling fan, and also the air conditioner. So, rather than using lights bulbs as reference point, you can use the air-conditioner as the reference point. Then you will only need to buy 1 step ladder for your house, shop, store, or warehouse. You will be able to reach the airconditioner, and also the light bulbs.

Now that you know how to choose a step ladder, head on to our online store at to choose your step ladder. Click here.

Written by: Lok – One of our ladders expert , last updated on 23 September 2015 


One of our ladders expert. He writes on how to choose the right ladder for your job needs, and we refers to him on the technical side of things.

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