What Different Ladder Designs Are Used For

Depending on the project you’re working on, you might need a different ladder design. That’s why it’s important to know the different types of ladder designs and what they’re used for.

What are ladders used for?

Ladders come in all shapes and sizes and can be used for a variety of purposes. They are essentially used for allowing people to reach areas that are above the farthest reach while standing on level ground. Ladders come in a range of sizes and types.

Different types of ladders

Ladders come in different designs for different purposes. The most common types are A-frame ladders, extension ladders, step ladders, and multi-purpose ladders.

It’s important to choose the right ladder for the job, as using the wrong ladder could lead to serious injury. Here are some of the most common ladder designs and what they’re typically used for:

  • A-frame ladders: These ladders have a triangular frame and can be used as either step ladders or extension ladders. They’re usually made from either steel or aluminum.
  • Extension ladders: These ladders can be extended to reach heights of up to 20 feet (6 meters). They’re usually made from either steel or aluminum.
  • Step ladders: These ladders have a set of steps leading up to a platform, and are often used in areas where space is limited. They’re usually made from wood or fiberglass.
  • Multi-purpose ladders: These ladders can be converted into different designs, such as A-frame, extension, or step ladder. They’re usually made from aluminum.
  • Work platforms: While not considered a ‘ladder’, work platforms are ideal for anyone who needs to work at height but doesn’t feel comfortable using a traditional ladder. They provide a stable, level surface that you can stand on, and some models even have guardrails to help keep you safe.

How to choose the right ladder

In order to choose the right ladder for the job, you need to know what different ladder designs are used for. Here is a quick guide to the most common types of ladders:

  • Extension Ladder: An extension ladder is composed of two sections that can be locked together at various lengths. These ladders are great for reaching high heights, but they are not stable enough to be used for tasks that require both hands.
  • Step Ladder: A step ladder is a great choice for tasks that require both hands, as they are very stable. They come in both two-step and three-step varieties and can be foldable for easy storage.
  • Multi-Purpose Ladder: A multi-purpose ladder can be used as an extension ladder, step ladder, or scaffold. They are very versatile and can be adjusted to various heights and configurations.

Tips for using ladders safely

With the proper precautions and ladder designs, you can use a ladder safely and effectively. There are many different designs of ladders, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Here are some tips for using ladders safely:

  • Choose the right ladder for the job. There are many different designs of ladders, each with its own advantages and disadvantages. Make sure to choose the right ladder for the job at hand, taking into account such factors as weight capacity, height, and stability.
  • Inspect the ladder before use. Before using any ladder, inspect it for damage or cracks. If you find any damage, do not use the ladder!
  • Set up the ladder correctly. When setting up a ladder, make sure that it is placed on level ground and that all four legs are firmly planted. If possible, have someone hold the base of the ladder while you climb.
  • Do not overreach. When using a ladder, be careful not to overreach or lean too far to one side. Always maintain three points of contact with the ladder (two hands and one foot, or two feet and one hand).
  • Use caution when descending. When descending a ladder, always face the ladder and use both hands to control your descent. Take your time and do not rush!

Ladder safety regulations

In the United States, ladder safety is regulated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA has specific requirements for the design, construction, and use of ladders. These requirements are intended to prevent ladder accidents and injuries.

There are three general categories of ladders: portable, stock, and special-purpose. Each category has its own set of safety regulations. Portable ladders are further divided into two types: stepladders and straight or extension ladders. Stepladders have a hinged back and can be used in either the closed or open position. Straight or extension ladders have no hinges and must be used in the fully extended position.

Portable ladders must be:

  • Constructed of materials that will not corrode or conduct electricity -In good condition, with all parts functioning properly.
  • The correct type and size for the job.
  • Used only on stable, level surfaces.
  • Placed so that the side rails are horizontal.
  • Set up so that the feet are on a firm footing.
  • Used only as intended – for example, a stepladder should never be used as an extension ladder.

With some exceptions, portable ladders must have a minimum clearance of 3 feet between the side rails and any obstructions.

Stock ladders are those manufactured to standard sizes and specifications. They include single cleat, double rung, combination (equal rung), trestle (A-frame), articulating, twin, and household stepladder designs.

Most stock ladders are made of wood, aluminum, or fiberglass. Some specialized types may be made from other materials such as steel or plastic. All stock ladders must meet ANSI standards for strength, dimensions, and construction details. Stock ladder specifications vary depending on the material from which they are constructed and their intended use.

Ladder maintenance

If you have a ladder, it is important to maintain it so that it is safe to use. Depending on the type of ladder, there are different ways to maintain it. Here are some tips on how to maintain different types of ladders:

  • Extension ladders: Inspect the rungs, side rails, and feet regularly. Look for cracks, splinters, missing parts, or any other damage. If you find any damage, replace the damaged part or the whole ladder. Also, make sure that the locking devices are working properly.
  • Step ladders: Check the rungs and side rails for damage. Also, make sure that the spreaders are in good condition and that the hinges are tight.
  • Articulating ladders: Check all of the joints to make sure that they are tight and not damaged. Also, check the rungs and side rails for damage.


Ladders come in a variety of designs to fit many different situations. Extension ladders are best for reaching high places, while step ladders are perfect for when you need a boost to reach something on a shelf or other high place. Multi-purpose ladders offer the benefits of both step and extension ladders and are perfect for when you need extra versatility. Ladder safety is always important, no matter what type of ladder you are using, so be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and use common sense to avoid accidents.

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Leon Ashcraft
About Leon Ashcraft

Leon Ashcraft is a Safety Instructor and consultant in Colorado with focus on OSHA, environmental health and safety, transportation safety, oil & gas, rescue operations and construction safety. Learn more about Leon here or connect with him on Twitter | LinkedIn | Medium