Without painting the ladder industry would not be what it is today. From multi position ladders to extensions. Contractors use all kinds of different devices to reach new height's.

Customers will ask me why we painters prefer wood when it comes to ladders. There are a couple of reasons cost being number one.

A wood step ladder is sturdy like fiberglass but not as expensive. While an aluminum ladder on the other-hand is economical and light weight. Even so, when you touch aluminum black marks can be left on the walls. Aluminum also conducts electricity.

I use both aluminum and wood for most of my painting projects. I even have a 42 foot ladder that I've only used once (painters and their toys).

I also know a fellow painter who insists on only using a wooden ladders even his extension is made of wood. It's an old fireman's ladder. The ladder is so sturdy when standing on the top you feel like your still on solid ground. I'm sure when he uses it he needs six body builders and a Clydesdale horse to get it off the top of his van.

I have another buddy who refuses to use an extension ladder. He says anything higher than a six feet up requires danger pay and none of his customers will dole out the extra cash.

Below are a list of ladders the majority of people would use for both interior and exterior work.

Prior to using any ladder be sure to check ladder SAFETY in the BASICS section located on the HOME page of this website.

Also, follow all of your local government regulations for proper ladder use.

The ladder you require depends on the job at hand. Each person has a preference for the kind of ladder they need. Choosing your ladder can depend on grade, type, how big it should to be and what It's made of. As an example a multi position ladder works well when the ground your standing on is different heights.


Articulating, (articulating or multi position ladders can be used in unleveled situations. A stair well for example) step ladders, stools with steps and those without are the most common ladders one uses in there home.

Varying sized step ladders, articulating (multi position ladders) and ones that extend work best for out side.


Choosing the correct length or height of a ladder is very important prior to beginning a painting project. Never use ladders that aren’t suited for the job your undertaking. A multi position ladder for example, is a good have around it replaces most other ladders for home and light contracting use.


Below you see a guide for selecting the appropriate extension. An explanation for support point would be the distance between the ground and where the ladder is to touching the surface. For example if from the foot of your house to the top of the gutter measures 9', you'll need a 16' extension ladder to get to your shingles. This doesn't mean to extend the ladder to its maximum point. Three feet above the roof line is best.

So, with tat said, if your support point is at 9' extend the ladder to 12'. A multi position ladder can be used as an extension but you are limited to length check with your local suppliers.

  • 9' or less to the support point use a 16' extension ladder

  • 9' to 13' to the support point use a 20'extension ladder

  • 13' to 17' to the support point use a 24' extension ladder

  • 17’ to 21’ to the support point use a 28' extension ladder

  • 21’ to 25’ to the support point use a 32' extension ladder

  • 25’ to 28’ to the support point use a 36' extension ladder

  • 28’ to 31’ to the support point use a 40' extension ladder


We've all read the words that say this is not a step. On a multi position ladder it says don’t pass this rung Because of these infamous warnings, I've added a list to help you decide what step or multi position ladder to buy.

The measurements below are for the average size person with an average reach (5' 6'' to 5' 10 '' with a 12" to 14" inch reach).
Reach means the height from the ground to the item or surface your trying to get at. For example the cookie jar is on top of the kitchen cupboard which is 7' up. To get at those yummy goodies you will need a 3' step ladder.

  • Your reach is 7' you'll need a 3' step ladder

  • Your reach is 8' you'll need a 4' step ladder

  • Your reach is 9' you'll need a 5' step ladder

  • Your reach is 10' you'll need a 6' step ladder

  • Your reach is 11' you'll need a 7' step ladder

  • Your reach is 12' you'll need a 8' step ladder

  • Your reach is 14' you'll need a 10' step ladder

  • Your reach is 18' you'll need a 14' step ladder

  • Your reach is 20' you'll need a 16' step ladder


Weight capacity grades are attached to all step, extension and multi position ladders . The measurements below are only a general guide line. Always check with your particular ladder manufacturer for the proper ratings for your ladder.

    Construction. Up to 375 lbs

  • TYPE IA:
    Industrial, general contracting. Up to 300 lbs

  • TYPE I:
    Maintenance, dry walling. Up to 250 lbs

  • Type II:
    Light commercial, painting. Up to 225 lbs

  • Type III:
    Home use, light duty. Up to 200 lbs.


Ladders come in three different types, wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. If you have the money, fiberglass is the way to go, other wise stick with a quality manufacturer like WERNER and you’ll do just fine with wood or aluminum.

Also it’s a sad day for painters because multi position ladders don’t come in wood.

  • Fiber glass:
    Most builders and electricians use fiber glass ladders due to their strength and non conductivity.

  • Aluminum:
    A good quality aluminum ladder is strong, light weight and resists rust. Probably the best choice for home owners.

  • Wood:
    Wooden ladders are the painters choice. It leaves fewer marks on the walls, is sturdy and non conductive. On a job site everyone knows who the wooden colored ladder belongs to.

    Maybe I could laminate a multi position ladder in oak, then my painter friends will stop teasing me for using an aluminum one.


    Keep a ladder in position when the ground isn’t level . When working in a stair well and a multi position ladder is to short . An extension with a stabilizer on one side works well to cut in a high wall.

    A cross brace is an aluminum plank that can be positioned between two multi position ladders. This system works well if your going to be staying in one spot for a long time.

    Push outs hold a ladder away from a surface and work well if you buy good quality ones. There not a the best investment unless your doing a lot of exterior type work.

    This is a tool I wouldn’t be without, which comes with teasing by other painters. There light weight, have a large area for the cut can to sit on and the balls of my feet don’t straddle a two and a half inch ladder rung when I’m cutting in a room.

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