Aluminum vs. fiberglass extension ladders

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 help!
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stratford1 wrote:

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.
Pete C.
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My aluminum ladder is no worse for wear after 20 years outside in New England. My guess is it will still look better than me in 20 more years.
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Fiberglass is a lot heavier. If you are not near the ocean or doing electrical work consider the aluminum ladder
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wrote:

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.
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wrote:

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.
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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.
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stratford1 wrote:

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 consumer crap.
Pete C.
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For the same weight and expense, you can get both an extension and a step ladder, both of which will out-perform the compromise ladder.
Bill

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bill allemann wrote:

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.
Pete C.
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Anybody know if such a product exists anymore and if so where can I get one?
--
theball

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Phisherman wrote: Second, a

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.
Nonnymus
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stratford1 wrote:

AL = lighter no UV issues.
FG = Non conductive. (electrical and heat (cold))
--
Joseph Meehan

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stratford1 wrote:

Aluminum weathers better. The military makes SHIPS and PLANES out of aluminum!
If you're worried, paint it.
If it's outside, invest in a chain and padlock. Nice ladders wander off.
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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.
aem sends...
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wrote:

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.
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stratford1 wrote:

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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wrote:

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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