10 Best

Step Ladders

of September 2023

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A Guide to Selecting a Step Ladder

Yehudah Posnick

A stepladder is a handy piece of equipment, both inside and outside your home. It basically consists of two parallel frames connected at the top by a hinge and may have extra support to not buckle under a person’s weight. Whether you need to change a light bulb, reach a high shelf, hang up a picture or curtain, or do a paint or plastering job, a stepladder can help you get it done.

We’ll see that there are step ladders, which can 5 or more rungs and can reach quite high, and step stools, which are usually shorter with only one or two steps that are wide enough to allow you to sit. Step ladders are intended more for working while standing. Also, we’ll study the uses of the versatile multi-position ladders that can serve as a step ladder as well as a staircase ladder, trestle and plank ladder, and more! And what’s best of all is that these ladders are lightweight and portable, yet can collapse down for easy storage! Read on to see which is best for you!


What’s the difference between a step ladder and a regular ladder?

A step ladder typically consists of two ladders joined by a hinge. It can stand alone, without needing any external support. A regular ladder must be leaned against something to provide support. Also, a step ladder may consist of steps that are wide enough to support your entire foot, while a typical ladder uses narrow rungs.

What is the difference between a step ladder and a step stool?

A step ladder is primarily used for work while standing on the ladder. A step stool, on the other hand, has a wide support at the top that allows you to sit on it while working. For example, the Topfun Folding 2-Step Stool allows you to both stand on the top step, as well as sit on it while using the lower step to support your feet.

The Topfun Folding 2-Step Stool, both folded as used as a step stool

Types of Step Ladders

You’ll see step ladders with useful additions and accessories, such as levelers, a storage rack, or a project tray. But we can find several designs of step ladders, including simple step ladders, and multi-position ladders which allow them to serve several functions:

Little Giant Ladder Systems Flip-N-Lite Stepladder

  • Step stool ladder: A step stool will combine the functionality of a step ladder and a stool, by allowing you to sit at the top of the ladder. The HBTower 2-Step Folding Step Stool is a sturdy model that can support up to 500 lbs!

 HBTower 2-Step Folding Step Stool

HBTower also makes a 4-step step stool with handrails and body support to allow you to stand comfortably on the top step without fear of falling.

HBTower 4-Step Folding Step Stool

Little Giant Ladders Multi-Position Ladder

But, it also has extensible parts that allow it to function as:

    • An A-frame ladder: This allows two people to ascend the ladder on opposite sides. This is useful if you need two people to perform a task in tandem.

Little Giant Ladders Multi-Position Ladder as an A-Frame Ladder

    • An extension ladder: This type allows you to extend out part of the ladder telescopically, while you support the ladder against a wall. The Little Giant Ladder allows you to ascend as high as 17 feet!

Little Giant Ladders Multi-Position Ladder as an Extension Ladder

    • Trestle-and-plank: You’ll notice that the Little Giants Ladder looks like it has 8 legs. That’s because it really consists of two ladders, where you can slide the inner ladder out and position it like a regular step ladder. The other section consists of two parts which may be connected with two trestle brackets. You can thus position the two step ladders opposite each other, and place a plank on top of the two step ladders.

Little Giants Ladder in a Trestle and Plank configuration

    • Staircase ladder: The Little Giants Ladder also can be modified so that you can position it on a flight of stairs.

Little Giant Ladders Multi-Position Ladder as a Staircase Ladder

    • 90-degree ladder: There are step ladders that can be configured so that one of the legs makes a 90-degree angle with the floor. Once you have the Little Giants Ladder in the A-frame position, you can lock it in place so that one leg is one rung shorter than the other. This is the 90-degree ladder position. It can be useful when trying to reach a high shelf while maintaining a distance from the wall.

Little Giant Ladders Multi-Position Ladder as a 90-degree Ladder

What reviewers say

Here are some customers’ impressions about the step ladder that they bought:

  • Better to get a taller version: One customer who measures 5.5 feet said that she thought that a 5-foot stepladder, such as the Little Giant Ladder Systems Flip-N-Lite 5-Foot Stepladder would be adequate. However, she noticed that she would have to stand on the top step of the ladder in order to change light bulbs, clean high kitchen cabinets, or arrange artwork on the wall. She concluded that she should have bought a 6-foot stepladder for just a bit more money.

  • Make sure the steps are not spaced too far apart: Some users who have problems with mobility were a bit disappointed with their step ladder when they noticed that the steps were spaced too far apart. If you have difficulty raising your legs to a certain height, consider a step ladder with steps that are more closely spaced.

Important Features

Here are some tips to help you select the best step ladder for your needs:

  • Weight of the ladder: Step ladders are intended to be moved from place to place to where you need to work. Take note of the weight of the model that you intend to buy. Even if they’re made from lightweight materials such as aluminum or fiberglass, they can still be heavy. The Dexlo 4-Step Ladder is made from aluminum and steel, yet it weighs only 9.1 lbs.

  • Weight capacity: Most of these step ladders are constructed from aluminum, which makes the ladder lightweight and easy to move around. But, take the ladder’s weight capacity into consideration. There are three weight classes of ladders:

    • Class I includes industrial-strength ladders that can support up to 175 kg (= 385 lbs).

    • Class II includes ladders for commercial use, which can support 150 kg (= 330 lbs).

    • Class III is for use in your home, with a weight capacity of 125 kg (= 275 lbs).

One of the most sturdy stepladders is the HBTower 3-Step Ladder with Handrails, which can support up to 500 lbs. (The 4-step version is not as sturdy, and supports only up to 330 lbs.)

  • Anti-slip feet: Many people who use a step ladder for common chores in the home want to make sure that the ladder is stable and won’t slip. It’s recommended to purchase a step ladder with rubber on the feet, for better traction. Many also have a rugged rubber surface on each of the steps for better traction.

  • Tool tray: Some ladders, like the DeWalt DXL3010 Fiberglass Stepladder, have a magnetic tray on the top step, which allows you to put all sorts of metal tools and implements there while working, without fear of them falling off the ladder. It also has slots for a drill and other tools, as well as a holder for a bucket of paint.


Final Verdict

We went through some of the most popular step ladders available nowadays. Whether you just need to get to a high shelf or change a light bulb, or even if you intend to paint a wall or effect repairs around your house, a step ladder is a handy tool. Ensure that you can stand on it safely and securely while working, without any fear of slipping, and you should be good to go!

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