Hey folks... I need some advice in picking out an extension ladder. My
main concern...this thing will have to be stored outside, probably
hooked onto the fence in the backyard. So, it'll be exposed to the
elements year-round. Is it even worth considering an aluminum ladder
based on that? I want this to last as long as possible and my
assumption is that a fiberglass ladder will stand up to weather much
better. Just wondering if the extra cost is worth it. Thanks for your
My expectation would be that the fiberglass ladder would have more
issues with weather. AL is a self protecting type of metal unless you're
in a salt air area. Fiberglass tends to weather and degrade with
chalking resin, fiberglass fuzz and fading color.
Fiberglass is very heavy and does not age well when exposed to the
elements. Safer around overhead wires is it's only advantage.
Aluminum will last longer and be easier to manage. I have a 16 foot
magnesium ladder that is my favorite of all. It is VERY light and
strong. It's about 40 years old and has always been left outside. I
wish I could find a magnesium extension ladder. I'm sure it would be
expensive, but I'd gladly spend the extra money.
There are several reasons not to do this. One, either ladder type
will take a beating and eventually weaken the ladder. Believe me, you
don't want to stand on a ladder that has deteriorated. Second, a
visible ladder is a security concern, making second-story access easy.
Consider a ladder that can be folded up and stored at least under a
canopy, better yet, a locked shed or basement. Fiberglass ladders are
generally better quality, don't conduct electricity, but are heavier
than aluminum ladders. Before you buy your ladder, spend 10-15
minutes looking over the ladder to inspect for damage, missing rivets,
etc. I had to look at 4 of them before I found one that had no flaws.
Great posts...thanks everybody. Sounds like aluminum will be perfect
for what I need to do. Also...less expensive, so thats good.
Phisherman, thanks for the security tip. Hadn't thought about that. I'm
actually now thinking that it might be able to store in my basement
after all, so that would be a lot better and eliminate that risk.
Also, one more quick question...has anyone had good luck with any of
the folding type ladders? I bought a Gorilla version a couple years ago
to act as a step ladder and extension ladder, but really was
disappointed. I found it impossible to keep balance on those skinny
rungs as a step ladder, and really felt a little unsafe when it was up
as an extension. In addition, the actual metal construction was really
sloppy...just carrying it I cut myself several times on sharp edges on
the metal. Needless to say, I returned it. Just curious if anyone has
had luck with Little Giant or another manufacturer of this type of
ladder? I already have a good step ladder, but if I can find a good
folding type extension ladder, that might solve my storage problems.
The Little Giant ones are very good. There are a couple variants as
well, the one I've used a fair amount has the center fold point and the
two sides each telescope, very good on slopes or stairs.
Suggest going to a "real" ladder store (http://www.americanladders.com /
for example, should be equivalents everywhere) where they have a
showroom and you can checkout the products properly. You also get advice
from folks who deal with ladders and related items all day, not general
No, you can't. Spend some time on the Little Giant site and familiarize
yourself with all the configurations you can set the "compromise" ladder
to that you can't do with a step and/or extension. The only "compromise"
is cost and weight.
As an example, I use a Little Giant ladder when installing a new light
fixture in a stairwell. The ceiling of the stairwell sloped at the same
angle as the stairs and there was no landing. The Little Giant with it's
two telescoping sides was able to handle the several feet of height
difference between the two steps it was resting on quite easily. With
the sloping ceiling it would not have been possible to use an extension
ladder and with the steps it would not have been possible to use a
conventional step ladder.
This concern has been around for quite a while. . . and
justifiably so. Being aware of it, I took some steps over
the years to reduce the chance that my own ladder(s) would
be used to gain access to our home.
The solution is quite simple. In the case of when we lived
in Carolina, the 28' fiberglass ladder was stored on the
inside garage wall, on 20d nails. In our present situation
of a lot that has a 6' stucco over block fence, the ladder
is stored outside on the fence, along with my 9' stepladder.
To prevent, or at least reduce the probability of theft or
use to gain access, I installed a ring bolt, using an
anchor, into the wall and have a 3/8" chain that runs
through both ladders, padlocked. I contend that nothing
will stop a determined thief, but this will sure as heck
slow him down.
Don't store it outside if you can avoid it, aluminum or fiberglass. Sun is
hard on fiber, acid rain is hard on Alumium. I have a short 2-car garage,
and my 24-foot extension ladder fits easily high on a wall. If your walls
are full, consider ceiling hooks, including using the dead space over the
overhead door. Bring ladder in, close door, hook one end on above-door hook,
and hook other end using a stick or pulley. Hooks for overhead use need to
be deep-notch, of course, and should also probably be bungeed, if people or
cars will walk under them. Yeah, a pulley system and having to pull the cars
out and close door is a pain in the ass, but if you are only using ladder a
few times a year, no biggie. And inside storage should make it last the life
of the house. Painters and other ladder abusers who keep them on the truck,
or chained up at site, generally replace every few years when rivets start
popping, parts fall off, glass gets crazed, etc. For them, cost of doing
business. My 24' 1A rated glass ladder was $165 at Sam's club. I don't wanna
pay that again till I change states. If you have overhead power lines, I
wouldn't consider anything but fiberglass. And be honest about the load
rating. I'm big, bordering on fat, so for me plus tools and/or material, 1A
rating was the minimum that would pass.
Fiberglass ladders have aluminum components. I've used both that have
lived on top of bucket trucks for years on end. I have a 28' glass
ladder at home. It's heavy as hell. As I get older I regret the
weight. A Little Giant 22 can be a 19', class 1A straight ladder and
fit in your closet.
I like fiberglass because they are sturdier. I feel like the aluminum
ones are too unsteady. They are heavier though. I would make stability
and safety my first concern when choosing ladders.
As said by others, aluminum will probably last longer in the elements
unless you are on the coast but how long is long enough. I sometimes use
a fiberglass ladder that was inherited from a utility company about 20
years ago. It was on a truck for who knows how long before that and has
always been outside. Its faded, a bit fuzzy but still strong.
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Anything you gain in weather resistance, you loose to UV
breakdown in the fiberglass. Was I you, I'd get or make
some sort of protective bag to store the thing in, when
not using it for long periods.
I think you should also consider whether you'll ever be
using the thing around power lines, and whether you need
a heavy-duty ladder, both of which argue for fiberglass.
Against that, aluminum is lighter and, tends to be cheaper.
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