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An A frame ladder inside on a drop sheet next to a dog and paint equipment
Whether you’re painting a ceiling or cleaning the gutters, a sturdy and suitable ladder gives you the access and support you need.

Which ladder to choose?

A ladder is the most basic item of a D.I.Y. kit, but all ladders are not created equal. To choose the best one for you, think about what you’ll be using it for. Clearing gutters or hanging pictures? Changing light bulbs or painting the ceiling? This will determine not only the height of ladder you need, but which other features are required to keep you safe at all times.

Standalone or lean-to?

The first decision to make is whether you need your ladder to be capable of standing by itself, or whether you will be leaning it against something. A single ladder is just a set of rungs between two rails. This lean-to-type ladder can be used for painting, climbing up a scaffold and similar tasks; its simplicity makes it sturdy, light and durable.

What size do you need?

If you’re only going to be accessing high cupboards or painting a standard-height ceiling, a small stepladder will often be enough. To access the roof or second-floor windows, you will need an extension ladder or multi-ladder.

Stepladder: This type of ladder is made of two sides hinged at the top, and has flat steps positioned along one or both sides, with braces between the sides. Often used inside the home, a stepladder is useful for tasks such as painting and putting up pictures.

Extension ladder: Extension ladders are typically used outdoors, and consist of two or more single ladders that slide along one another, with a rung lock to set the height you need.

Multi-ladder: The perfect all-rounder, a telescopic multi-ladder can take the role of a single ladder, a double-sided stepladder or an extension ladder. It can extend from a 1.3m stepladder to a 4.2m straight single ladder, enabling you to tackle most jobs around the house.

A tall extension ladder leaning against the exterior of a house

Safety first

The most important rule for ladder use is to keep three points of contact (for example, both feet and one hand) on the ladder at all times. For jobs that require you to lean, such as washing windows, add a safety boom to help prevent you losing your balance.

A platform ladder gives you an added feeling of security when working at height. It has a solid flat area on which you can stand safely and comfortably for extended periods of time and features a waist-high guard rail.

Ladder materials

Steel ladders are cost-effective and suitable for basic tasks. Aluminium ladders are light and strong, suitable for a variety of jobs. Fibreglass ladders do not conduct electricity, and are often stronger than aluminium ladders, but are also more expensive.

A safety ladder in an attic on a plastic drop sheet

Weight capacity

It is important to check the ladder’s weight rating matches the job you need it to do. If you are working with heavy objects such as buckets of paint or construction materials, or if two people might be working together on a double-sided ladder, you will need a greater weight capacity.

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Photo credit: Getty Images

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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.