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A person climbing a ladder holding a ladder limb

Overview

Ladders are one of the most useful pieces of equipment you can have around the home. But the higher up you climb, the further you can fall, so it is important to know what you are doing. We’ll teach you how to use three different types of ladder properly and show you some gear that helps makes working on a ladder a little easier.

Steps

1Always use a nail bag when working on a ladder

When you are working on any sort of ladder, it is worth wearing a nail bag. It leaves your hands free to work and keep you balanced. It also means you can carry all your tools and the other gear to save you from climbing up and down.
A tool belt hanging off a ladder limb on an extension ladder

2Ladder's Little Helper

The Ladder's Little Helper is a patented design accessory that helps prevent accidents, movement and scratching of gutters when you lean a ladder up against your roof. Simply hang the device off the edge of your gutter and rest your ladder on top of it.
A ladder's little helper leaning against a roof gutter

3How to use a small step ladder

The small step ladder is lightweight and ideal for basic day-to-day jobs around the home. Always make sure it is fully open with its horizontal arms locked before you climb on it. You should also pay attention to the safety signs stuck on it. The first tells you how much weight the ladder can cope with. The second shows you how high you can safely climb and still lean against the ladder.
A person locking the horizontal arms on a ladder

4How to use a large step ladder

The large step ladder works the same way as the small one, but as you get higher, wearing sturdy footwear becomes essential. Also, some larger step ladders have a small shelf at the top for resting equipment like paint tins or hand tools. It's important to remember that the shelf is not strong enough to hold a person's weight.  
A person locking the horizontal arms on a ladder

5Using a ladder limb

When you are high up on an extension ladder, there are times it would be useful to have a spare hand. The ladder limb is cleverly designed to slip into the middle of a ladder rung and hold a bucket or a tin of paint, so your hands are free to do the job and keep you safe.
A person inserting a ladder limb into a hole in the side of a ladder

6How to use an extension ladder

When using an extension ladder follow the four-to-one ratio. For every four metres the ladder goes up, the base needs to move back one metre. If you are climbing a high ladder, a second person should keep the ladder steady by resting their feet against the base and firmly holding the side rails.
One man holding an extension ladder against a wall while another man climbs

7General guidelines for working with ladders

There are some general guidelines that are worth following with any type of ladder. Always follow the manufacturer's instructions and make sure your ladder is in good condition before you use it. You should also check that the ladder has rubber feet on it, always set it up on solid ground and have the right ladder for the job. Finally, make sure there are no power lines or electrical cables in the way and avoid climbing a ladder in strong winds or wet conditions. 
Small and large step ladders, an extension ladder, a ladder's little helper and a ladder limb

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More D.I.Y. Advice

Health & Safety

Asbestos, lead-based paints and copper chromium arsenic (CCA) treated timber are health hazards you need to look out for when renovating older homes. These substances can easily be disturbed when renovating and exposure to them can cause a range of life-threatening diseases and conditions including cancer. For information on the dangers of asbestos, lead-based paint and CCA treated timber and tips for dealing with these materials contact your local council's Environmental Health Officer or visit our Health & Safety page.

When following our advice in our D.I.Y. videos, make sure you use all equipment, including PPE, safely by following the manufacturer’s instructions. Check that the equipment is suitable for the task and that PPE fits properly. If you are unsure, hire an expert to do the job or talk to a Bunnings Team Member.