Fiberglass Step Ladders

If you had to choose just one ladder for almost every household project you ever would tackle, you wisely, prudently would choose a six- or eight-foot step ladder.  Both lightweight and stable, your step ladder easily will travel with you from task to task, and it safely will support you as you clean, paint, replace, or repair almost anything in your home.  Made of wood, your ladder will cost very little.  Made of aluminum, your step-ladder will weigh practically nothing.  And made of fiberglass, your all-purpose climb-up will keep you safe and steady for a lifetime.

Given their stability, portability, ease of use and storage, step-ladders have a lot more household uses than step-stools, their diminutive cousins, or “multi-ladders,” their awkward, ungainly, and sometimes unsafe in-laws.  Given its durability, resilience, sure grip, and “non-conductivity,” fiberglass almost always stands-out as the best value.

Agreeing, sure, you want an eight-foot fiberglass step-ladder for all your household fix-its and make-it-betters, you still have some choices.  For example, the best new fiberglass step-ladders have no-pinch hinges: even if you slam the legs hard and tight together, you cannot smash your fingers.  And the best ladders always have secure non-skid steps—definitely grooved and maybe even “serrated” for the surest footing.  The best ladders have sturdy, non-slip “shoes.”  Because most hardware and home improvement stores have polished concrete floors, you easily can test your ladder’s non-slip properties before you buy: if it won’t slip on that smooth cement, it won’t slide anywhere..  The best designed fiberglass step-ladders have sturdy, adaptable trays; the best are made of heavy rubber-plastic composite, also with a non-slip but still easy-clean surface.  The trays also should have no-pinch hardware.  And, best of all, the better fiberglass step-ladders have handsome accessory packs, so that you can outfit your all-purpose ladder the right add-ons and plug-ins for almost any project.

As you choose your ladder, carefully check its “type”—the jargon term for its weight rating. The American National Standards Institute (ANSI) tests and rates ladders; in the store, every ladder will have a safety rating label prominently displayed on a leg.  “Type 1” safely will support 250 pounds, “Type 1A” 300 pounds and Type “1AA” 375 pounds.  You probably will discover the higher the weight rating, the more other prime features the ladder will have; and, naturally, the prices increase with ratings, too.

Naturally, each of the major manufacturers explains and promotes its ladders online.  Before visiting the sites, however, visit the Ace Hardware site (www.acehardware.com), because “ace is the place” for an extremely valuable introduction to all the different styles and features among ladders.  Ace has by far the simplest, most practical explanation of how to select the most appropriate ladder for your job, the best chart of the weight ratings, and the most objective discussion of ladder values.  Lowe’s and The Home Depot show styles and prices, and they compete for your business with attractive incentives.  Keep in mind, as you shop, ladder promotions are seasonal.  Ladder manufacturers give retailers “host buys” in the spring and fall when demand for ladders surges.  In the spring, people paint the eaves and put-up the screens; in the fall, people clean their gutters and wrestle with the storm windows.  So, it’s hardly a coincidence that you frequently will find decent ladders at up to 50% off.  Last spring, The Home Depot sold famous-maker fiberglass step-ladders for “a buck a foot”—just $8 for the most popular size and “type.”

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