Professionals’ First Choice and Homeowners’ Favorite
A brief history…
Just before the turn of the twentieth century, chemists perfected a process for combining silk with glass fibers, giving birth to the first primitive “fiber-glass.” Within just a couple years of the cloth’s invention, product designers had adapted it for use in household items, making them more durable and water-resistant. In 1938, an Owens-Corning researcher reinvented the mix of fiber and glass, using plastic instead of silk, perfecting it specifically for use in insulation and trade-marking the name Fiberglas™. Of course, as innovators adapted the durable, resilient mix for a wife variety of other uses, the trade-name became the eponym “fiberglass.” In the early 1940’s, Emerson Professional Tools introduced the first fiberglass-aluminum hybrid ladder—a small kitchen model, desirable for its light weight, long life, and easy storage.
And a brief introduction…
Since then, fiberglass ladders have become the first choice among professionals in all the building trades. And the majority of homeowners have come to prefer fiberglass ladders over their wood and aluminum rivals, because fiberglass is safer and more durable than the alternatives. Wood ladders are heavy and require periodic stain or varnish for protection against splitting and rotting. Over time, the hardware in wood ladders can wear holes in ladders’ sides and steps, making them wobbly and prone to breaking loose. Although aluminum ladders weigh considerably less than fiberglass ladders of the same kind and size, and although they typically cost less than their fiberglass equivalents, they have two distinct disadvantages: (1) they easily bend and dent, losing their plumb and level; and (2) they conduct electricity, so that they are too hazardous for use on many job sites.
Aluminum ladders remain the best-sellers in two-, three-, and four-step ladders—the models mostly commonly used inside the house. A two-step aluminum ladder is perfect in the kitchen or for reaching the highest closet shelves. Easy to move around with just one hand, a small aluminum ladder has hundreds of household uses. And most homeowners prefer five- or six-foot aluminum ladders for painting walls and ceilings, washing the car, and some landscaping projects.
In all the other categories and classes, fiberglass leads the leagues.
The fiberglass advantage…
First and foremost, professionals and do-it-yourselfers prefer fiberglass for its safety. Aluminum numbers among nature’s most conductive materials, so that any kind of overhead electrical work becomes exceptionally dangerous on an aluminum ladder. Even with insulation, aluminum ladders can deliver a powerful jolt.
Second, people appreciate the resilience and durability in fiberglass. No one can bend the leg or dent the step on a fiberglass ladder; and, even if a careless apprentice knocks his fiberglass ladder against a solid wall, it will not lose its shape. Fiberglass ladders require absolutely no maintenance, and they last forever. Some contractors who carry both kinds of ladders report they frequently replace aluminum ladders, but they almost never have to replace their reliable fiberglass ladders.
Many workers simply prefer the feel of fiberglass. As it conducts electricity, so aluminum conducts hot and cold. On very cold days, workers’ feet grow cold and numb on aluminum ladders, but they stay warm on fiberglass. On sunny, hot days, many workers actually suffer mild burns from aluminum ladders, but fiberglass stays cool.
Buying large step-ladders or extension ladders for their biggest household projects, most homeowners find that, although they pay more for fiberglass, the ladders’ built-in quality more than justifies the cost.
Shop for Fiberglass Ladders
There are a number of web sites that offer the most popular brand named fiberglass ladders. Our favorites are listed below: