Ladders: Types and Brands

There are many different types of ladders with a myriad of different purposes.

Here are some, as well as, the better known brands ?Werner Ladders, Little Giant Ladder Systems, CMT Industrial, Hercules, Louisville Ladders, LB International Inc., JOMY, Cosco Telescoping Ladder, Krause Ladders, Gorilla Ladders, Precision Ladders, Century Attic Ladders, Rainbow Attic Ladders, Davidson, ABSS, and Wing.


  • Stepladders
  • Extension ladders
  • Attic ladders
  • Single ladders
  • Articulated ladders
  • Combination ladders
  • Extension trestle ladders
  • Fixed ladders
  • Job made wooden ladders

–>Step ladders

The stepladder is a self-supporting non-adjustable in length portable ladder with flat steps and a hinged design for storage ease. Step ladders are preferred choices for home use since they store effortlessly, can normally be folded and are less expensive. For undemanding activities such as reaching upper heights and small painting work, stepladders will get the job done.

Stepladders range from 3 to 20 ft. in length along the side rail. Stepladders shorter than 3 ft. are considered step stools. The highest standing level on a stepladder is slightly more than 2 ft. from the top of the ladder and is required to be noted on the specifications label on the side rail. A stepladder must not be used unless its base is spread fully open and spreaders locked.

Extension ladders

The extension ladder is a non-self-supporting portable ladder that is adjustable in length. It consists of two or more sections that travel in guides or brackets arranged so as to permit length adjustment. The maximum extended length is dependent on the number of sections as well as the ladder抯 duty rating. The sections are held into their adjusted position by extension locking devices known as rung locks which are employ several types of designs including gravity, spring-action, rope-operated, or stationary types.

Extension ladders may be positioned against walls and scoped to achieve different heights. Usually these ladders have rounded and slim rungs for added mobility while climbing. However for specific projects such as window dusting, roof renovation, maintaining library shelves or fruit harvesting, step and extension ladders are not the best type of ladders.

When an extension ladder has previously been used as a single ladder, use care to properly reassemble the sections to ensure interlocking guides or brackets are correctly engaged before further use.

To adjust extension ladders, you should be standing at the base of the ladder to observe proper engagement of the rung locks. Unlike a stepladder that requires level support for all four of its side rails, extension ladders require only two level ground support points in addition to a top support. To avoid losing your balance and falling off an extension ladder, never step or stand higher than the step indicated on the label marking the highest standing level.

Attic ladders

Attic ladders generally fold as in a disappearing stairway, though not always. Attic ladders get you into a storage area within a limited space allotment. Attic ladders can be steep and unstable; don抰 skimp on attic ladders.

Single ladders

The selection of proper single ladder size requires knowledge of the height of the top support point. Single ladders rated for light duty service do not exceed 16 feet in length; medium duty is available up to 24 feet; and heavy duty length is up to 30 feet.

If the top support point is a roof eave, the top of the single ladder must extend one to three feet above the roof eave if you want to access the roof. The ladder must also be tied to the upper access level before climbing on or off the ladder at the upper level. Be careful when getting on or off the ladder at the upper level in order to avoid tipping over the ladder sideways or causing the ladder base to slide out.

Unlike a stepladder that requires level support for all four of its side rails, single ladders require only two level ground support points in addition to a top support. Ladder levelers may be used to achieve equal rail support on uneven surfaces. The top support also allows the opportunity to secure or tie off the top of the ladder to increase stability.

Articulated Ladders

An articulated ladder is a portable ladder with one or more pairs of locking hinges which allow the ladder to be set up in several configurations such as a single or extension ladder, with or without a stand-off, a stepladder, a trestle ladder, scaffold or work table. Each pair of articulated joints in the ladder can be locked in one or more positions to accommodate the various configurations.

Each articulated ladder manufacturer has a unique locking hinge design and each lock must visibly indicate whether it is locked or unlocked. Become familiar with the proper operation of the hinge and make sure all the hinges are locked before using the ladder. Do not attempt unlocking or repositioning any of the hinges while standing on the ladder. Keep the hinges lubricated.

Combination Ladders

A combination ladder is a portable ladder capable of being used as a stepladder, or as a single or extension ladder. Combination ladders may also be used as a trestle ladder or stairwell ladder. Combination ladder components may be used as single ladders and can be designed with either steps or rungs, and the inclusion of a pail shelf is optional. With steps, it抯 recommended the step surfaces be horizontal. Either spreaders or a locking device can be used to securely hold the front and rear sections in the open position.

It is important that you become familiar with the manufacturer抯 proper operation of the locking-mechanism and ensure all the joints are locked before using the combination ladder. Product labels illustrate all the acceptable uses and positions for any combination ladder. Configurations not illustrated on the label should not to be used.

Extension Trestle Ladders

The extension trestle ladder is a self-supporting portable ladder that is adjustable in length, consisting of a trestle ladder base and a vertically adjustable extension section to lock the ladders together to be used by one person.

An extension trestle ladder base section ranges in length up to 20 feet as measured along the side rail. The Extension section length may not exceed the base section length. The highest standing level on an Extension Trestle Ladder is the second step below the top of the extension section, or slightly more than 2 ft from the top of the ladder.

Fixed Ladders

The fixed ladder is a non-self-supporting ladder that is non-adjustable in length and permanently attached to a structure at a pitch ranging from 60 to 90 degrees from the horizontal. The preferred pitch of a fixed ladder is between 75 and 90 degrees from the horizontal.

Fixed ladders exposed to the elements are required to be maintained with protective finishes. Fixed ladders must not be used if any bolts or welds are not secure or missing or if the joints between the rungs and the side rail are not tight.

Job Made Wooden Ladders

Job-make wooden ladders are custom-made to fit specific job situations during construction or demolition operations with the intent of providing temporary access to or egress from a work area. Job made wooden ladders are not intended to serve as workstations.

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Little Giant Versus Gorilla Ladders

A Look at the New Types of Ladders

Jeff Gedgaud, Yahoo! Contributor Network
Sep 15, 2005 “Contribute content like this. Start Here.”

Everyone has seen the old style of A frame ladders, and many people own one or more. They can be flimsy and very hard to use for some of those odd jobs and special situations. Now you can buy new types of ladder that
have different configurations for those special situations and jobs.

If you’ve seen the infomercial for the Little Giant Ladder, you know what I’m talking about when I say versatile ladder. They claim, and I’m not denying it may be true, that the Little Giant is twenty four ladders in one. All that means is that with the different heights the ladder adjusts to combined with the five ways you can set the ladder up , there are twenty four possible configurations.

I bought a Gorilla ladder from a local Home Depot and understand all there is to know about that brand. I have not purchased a Little Giant but they aren’t that much different. Both ladders can be set into the same configurations, they both have the same lock tabs for the main hinge and the same lock tabs for the steps. The frames are a little different but you sure cannot bend the frame on the Gorilla any more than you can with the Little Giant. Especially with those pesky steps welded on every foot or so. That is a few things about the infomercial that I just don’t like, they overstate the things they want to, and then don’t mention or glaze over the things they don’t want you to hear very well.

The price is probably the biggest difference I have seen with the two types of ladders. For the infomercial, you have to do some calculations to figure out how much you have to pay, first the installment payments and then the shipping and handling. It comes out to $360 and then in the infomercial, they’ll wave the shipping. Well isn’t that nice, when you pay that much for a ladder I guess they can just handle the shipping charges.

I don’t like the way some of these infomercials handle their products and make it sound like they are helping you out, and then won’t tell you how much the total cost is, just that they have four easy payments
and some people don’t worry about the fact that it does cost as much as $360. They see the four payments and think it’s going to be paid out over a longer period of time. But that longer period of time is only four months, save the money up and buy the thing in one payment if you just have to have the Little Giant.

If you want the same kind of ladder for easily half the cost, buy a Gorilla ladder. There are some advantages over the Little Giant: the Gorilla ladder can be bought in one payment and taken home, first benefit to buying from a local store. If there is a problem with it when you get it home, take it back, instead of mailing it back. The shipping on something like a 35 pound ladder is not going to be a small amount.

I also like to find out how much something is going to cost me before I enter my credit card information, but Little Giant has their web site set up to not let you back into the site until you finish purchasing the ladder. I went to the site to see how much it would cost, added my shipping information and went to the page for adding my credit card information. I did not plan to buy the ladder, I only wanted to find out how much it would cost. But they don’t want you to find this out easily, I had to delete the cookies for the web sites on my browser page to get the site back and not add in my credit card information. I hate web sites that play with me this way, I want to know before hand how much shipping is going to cost and I like to be able to delete items from my shopping carts of sites easily, not have to play games with the sites to do it.

So, I found out that they do not charge for shipping when you purchase the three hundred plus dollar ladder. You can save yourself the hassle of all this by going to a home improvement store and buying the thing as you look at it and take it home with you. I like to see what I am buying, especially for something like a ladder. I want to stand on it and see for myself how sturdy it is, and if the store doesn’t want me to, I’ll go elsewhere. The Home Depot near me lets you stand, sit or whatever on the floor models of theirs.

That was what sold me, when I could test out the ladder and see what it could do, the store employee showed me the different positions and how easy it was to use, I was sold. I like the Gorilla ladder, for many reasons,
not just the price. The Gorilla ladder has the same kind of frame, and it is just as sturdy. The Gorilla ladder has one thing that the Little Giant does not, the hinge parts are about the same, but when you want to put the ladder into the scaffold configuration, you just add the two U shaped parts for the hinges of the second scaffold legs, they call them static hinges. Kind of like a non-working hinge, but I digress.

On the Little Giant ladder you use the leg locks to lock the two legs together, which is not as sturdy as the Gorilla. I don’t know why they didn’t think of this very simple and easy way to hook the two leg parts together but the Gorilla just gave you two of these U shaped parts that lock into the legs just like the hinge to create your two sets of scaffold legs.

One thing that they say about the Little Giant ladder that I am not quite sure about, they call it the 90 degree position. You put the one leg of the ladder one notch shorter and have one leg parallel with you wall or whatever you are working up against. You can get closer to your work surface for say, painting.

But if you over reach when you are in this position, simple physics tells you the ladder will pitch toward the wall. If the leg you have going straight down gets the weight just over the center of it, you will lean forward toward the wall and possibly fall, this is one of their five areas of configurations and the Gorilla does not even mention this as a possibility. It would be unsafe if you used it like this, I think, so I guess they didn’t want to mention this point on the infomercial, don’t over reach when the ladder is in the 90 degree position.

If you look at the web site for Home Depot and see the section for the Gorilla ladder, I like what they say about the ladder. The Gorilla ladder is a multi position ladder that features4 true functions. The Little Giant shows five positions but one, I think, is unsafe and the other four are just like the Gorilla.

You have all the different sizes of each configuration for each ladder and can get the three different sizes of the Little Giant, 15 foot, 19 foot and 23 foot. The Gorilla comes in 13 foot and 21 foot at your local Home Depot. The Gorilla ladder also has a scaffold platform that you can purchase separately from the Home Depot for $35, it has two feet that stand about a foot off the floor and you can set the feet over the steps of the Gorilla ladder for a scaffold at whatever height you want using the scaffold setup.

The prices for the Little Giant are; 15 foot $360, 19 foot $400 and 23 foot is $440. The Gorillas are $99 for the 12 foot and $159 for the 22 foot ladder. Easily half the price for the small and the biggest ones. They
are not quite the same sizes but that was probably what each company was thinking when they made theirs. The point of this is that the Gorilla ladders are quite a bit cheaper.

You can also buy a scaffold platform that will work that is just a simple aluminum platform that goes between the two scaffold parts, there are a few available at Home Depot for various types of scaffold systems. There is also the available two by twelve of wood that you can buy but I recommend you buy some L brackets and screw them into the bottom so the brackets go between the two top steps and keep the board on the two scaffold parts. Just buy a regular two by twelve of pine and screw some L brackets to it for a working scaffold platform.

Over all I think it makes more sense to buy from somewhere that you can see the product you are buying, unless you have seen it and know what you are getting. If you purchase something over the internet, know what you are getting yourself into. That is one reason I would buy a Gorilla ladder, it appears to be the same, I have read testimonials from others on Epinions and some other web sites, one is called Garden Web and has a versus opinion that compares the two, Little Giant vs. Gorilla. Check out the resources section for more information.

I have owned my Gorilla ladder for about two years and have used all of it’s configurations in doing household and construction work and have been very satisfied with it. I feel the price tag alone warrants a close look at the Gorilla Ladder as the Little Giant is much more of a major purchase.

The Gorilla ladder comes with the two static hinges that you use for the scaffold setup, they also come in a handy carrying case that has a couple of tools for the ladder and the instructions. The ladder does not use the locking clips for the legs to hook the two legs together. The legs are sturdy and do not bend, when they are set up you have a very sturdy ladder in any configuration. The whole thing costs way less than the Little Giant, and does come in the two different sizes, 13 foot and 21 foot.

I would recommend the Gorilla ladder over the Little Giant, but there is also another brand that has come out with a ladder that looks to be very similar to these two. The ClimbTek has what they call an articulated
ladder system,
it can go into the same types of configurations, but the ladder is a little different, it does not come apart into different sections like the others.

The ladder has four sections that connect with hinges, and the hinges are a different sort than the others, they unlock using a bar to release the hinge instead of two pull out knobs. This makes it a one handed operation to release the hinges.

In order to get it into the scaffold, you just put the two side parts into an a frame with the centers touching the ground in the middle, then add your board or scaffold piece in the middle. Or you just put the center flat with the two end pieces down at an angle touching the ground, but this would seem a bit unsturdy in the center section with the hinge in the very middle of the expanse of the scaffold of the ladder. It is a different type of ladder and can be useful but I have not read much in the way of Epinions or testimonials on this ladder, there are none that I could find, but there could be some out there I did not search very much for any. I was mainly comparing the two, Little Giant and Gorilla, but thought it only fair to mention this other ladder as a possibility for your looking into.

Over all, I would have to recommend the Gorilla ladder over the Little Giant, I just don’t trust mail order stuff that much and like to see what I am buying. The ladders are almost identical and do the same things. The Little Giant does come in more sizes but you can just get the biggest Gorilla ladder if you are going to need a larger one. The Gorilla is way less expensive and in my book that accounts for a lot.

The Gorilla has the same lifetime warranty that the Little Giant does, I.e. if it breaks from a manufacturers defect, like most products these days, it’s going to be replaced.

I don’t like many of the infomercials and some are just down right bogus, but some have the ring of truth to them, but the main point is you have to try this stuff out for yourself to really find out. You can check other peoples opinions and get a good idea of the pluses and minuses of things, that is what I do. Try Epinions,, or look up the product and see what people have rated it. Amazon and Cnet both rate products and have where people can rate the things for sale.

Word of advice: See what others have said before giving up your hard earned money, you may thank me for it later!
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Beg to differ? Join our site
and become a Content Producer and you can add your information about the Little Giant, Gorilla Ladder or any other product. We’ll even pay you for it.

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Recall Alert

U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Office of Information and Public Affairs Washington, DC 20207
May 24, 2004
Alert #04-551

CPSC, LB International Inc. Announce Recall of Fold-Away Ladders Sold by Hammacher Schlemmer
The following product safety recall was conducted voluntarily by the firms in cooperation with the CPSC. Consumers should stop using the product immediately unless otherwise instructed. It is illegal to resell or attempt to resell a recalled consumer product.

Name of Product: “Stow-Anywhere” Ladders

Units: About 1,500

Manufacturer: LB International Inc., of Hauppauge, N.Y.

Hazard: A rung on these aluminum, multi-purpose ladders can release or the side rail can bend unexpectedly. If that happens, the ladder can collapse, causing the user to fall.

Incidents/Injuries: LB International Inc. received a report of one individual who fractured her leg while using the ladder.

Description: The ladders were sold in three sizes. The 6-foot ladders that extend to 10 feet have model number 99067. The 7-foot ladders that extend to 12 feet have model number 99068. The 8-foot ladders that extend to 14 feet have model number 99069. The model number was listed in the firm’s catalog and Web site, and used for ordering. Model numbers are not written on the ladders. Each ladder bears a label on the side rail that reads, “Multi-Purpose Heavy Duty Ladder.

Sold by: Hammacher Schlemmer stores, catalogs and Web site sold these ladders nationwide from April 2003 through February 2004 for between $140 and $200.

Manufactured In: China

Remedy: Hammacher Schlemmer is directly notifying consumers who purchased these ladders and providing information to return the ladders for a refund.

Consumer Contact: Call Hammacher Schlemmer at (800) 233-4800 between 8 a.m. and midnight ET seven days a week. Consumers also can send an email to, and put “Ladder Return” in the subject line.




CPSC is still interested in receiving incident or injury reports that are either directly related to this product recall or involve a different hazard with the same product. Please tell us about it by visiting

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death from thousands of types of consumer products under the agency’s jurisdiction. The CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical, or mechanical hazard. The CPSC’s work to ensure the safety of consumer products – such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters, and household chemicalscontributed significantly to the decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.

To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury, call CPSC’s Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or CPSC’s teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054. To join a CPSC e-mail subscription list, please go to Consumers can obtain recall and general safety information by logging on to CPSC’s Web site at

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