How To Choose Your Ladder

Choose the right ladder.

To make a safe ladder choice, duty rating, ladder length, and the material from which the ladder is constructed are the most important elements.

Duty Rating:

Most ladders are designed to support one person plus the materials and tools for the job. To help you make a safe choice, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) has developed tests that determine the duty rating, type, and maximum working load (which includes tools, planks, and materials as well as the user) for every ladder. Every ladder has a label that provides the duty rating information you need. The labels are color-coded based on the duty ratings (see below). The following chart will be useful when making your choice:

Ladder Duty Ratings

Ladder Length: 

When considering what length of the ladder is best for you, please keep in mind that the ladder length and the maximum working length (extension ladders) or highest standing level (stepladders) are not the same. The following chart will help you to make a safe choice:

Ladder Duty Ratings

Ladder Material: 

Portable ladders are constructed primarily from three materials: wood, aluminum, or fiberglass. Matching the job and working environment with the proper ladder material is the third component in making the safest ladder choice. For example, if you will be working with or around electricity, it is important to select a non-conductive material such as wood or fiberglass. Some important factors when considering ladder material properties are:


  • Not conductive when clean and dry
  • The heavier weight provides extra stability
  • Least expensive


  • Weather resistant
  • Durable and lightweight
  • Material is conductive


  • Weather resistant
  • Not conductive when clean and dry