27 Different Types of Ladders (and Their Uses)

types of ladders
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One seldom considers the value of a ladder, until they are attempting to reach what would otherwise be unreachable. When we pause to think about our day to day lives, we quickly realize that ladders of one type or another play a pivotal role in virtually all that we do.

From activities surrounding work to recreation, ladders quite literally propel us to new heights. However, few individuals actually realize just how many types of ladders are at our disposal.

In fact, there is a particular ladder available to cater to every need, no matter the circumstances at hand. The following are 27 of the most common types of ladders, and their specific uses.

See Also: 36 Different Types of Shovels

Types of Ladders

#1 – Step Ladder

step ladderA step ladder is one of the most heavily used of all ladder types. Ladders of this design are self-supporting in nature, meaning that they can be used anywhere that a flat surface is present.

Ladders of this type are perfect for reaching the top shelf in a closet, or for conducting overhead work at home.

Step ladders are most commonly subdivided into two individual categories, front ladders and twin ladders. Front ladders feature one rung of steps, as opposed to twin ladders, which feature steps on both sides.

Related: Components of a Ladder (w/ Diagrams)

#2 – Extension Ladder

extension ladderExtension ladders are also immensely popular and are commonly used for exterior home repairs. If you have ever accessed your roof or cleaned out your gutters, there is a good chance that you did so from an extension ladder. 

Extension ladders come in two segments, the base and fly. The base of an extension ladder is placed atop the ground, and leans toward the ultimate destination of your climb, while the fly extends upward to improve reach.

#3 – Multi-Purpose Ladder

multi purpose ladderAlso known as: multi-position ladder, multi-use ladder, folding ladder

Multi-purpose ladders are capable of being converted into multiple forms on the fly. This type of ladder can be used as both a step ladder and an extension ladder.

Ladders of this configuration tend to be a favorite of handymen the world over, due to their significant range of versatility. 

If you were to own only one type of ladder to facilitate the bulk of your at-home chores, a multi-purpose ladder would be a wise choice.

#4 – Telescoping Ladder

telescoping ladderAlso known as: telescopic ladder

Telescoping ladders are extremely prevalent in industrial settings, due to their ability to be adjusted in short order. Telescoping ladders can be set to a near-infinite number of heights, allowing one to access nearly any fixed surface.

When fully extended, telescoping ladders take the form of an extension ladder, allowing one to reach pronounced heights.

#5 – Attic Ladder

attic ladderAttic ladders fold downward from the inside of an attic door, allowing homeowners to access all that is stored above head. While ladders of this variety are not used as commonly in most cases as step or extension ladders, they are absolutely essential when the need arises.

The true value of an attic ladder lies in the fact that it articulates, thereby facilitating easy storage.

#6 – Orchard Ladder

orchard ladderOrchard ladders are utilized by many within the fruit farming industry, due to their rugged/stable construction. Ladders of this type are notably wide at the base, yet gradually narrow as they progress upward.

A tripod style mount serves as the base of stability on the ladder’s load-bearing end. Orchard Ladders allow for proper placement in a wide array of outdoor settings and provide maximum working space at the upward extent of their reach.

#7 – Step Stool

step-stoolIt is quite likely that the vast majority of American homes feature at least one step stool which is essentially a mini ladder. Step stools are ideal when attempting to access that which is just out of reach.

Most stools of this nature feature 2-3 steps, which elevate users to heights of approximately 16”-24”. Steps stools can also be easily stored out of sight for later use. Many homeowners keep a step stool in their closets or garages.

#8 – Pool Ladder

pool ladderFor those that love nothing more than to spend an afternoon swimming in their pool, the use of a pool ladder comes as a way of life.

Ladders of this type attach to a pool and allow a pool’s occupants to enter and exit safely.

Many pool ladders feature textured steps, in order to prevent accidental slips and falls due to wet conditions.

#9 – Rope Ladder

rope ladderAlso known as: jacob’s ladder

Rope ladders are extremely versatile in nature and can be used for a wide variety of purposes. Letters of this type feature independent steps, which are interconnected by lengths of heart chord. Rope ladders can be deployed in seconds, and are stored with minimal consumption of space.

Rope ladders can be used for both emergency and recreational purposes and can be stored at home, or in a vehicle.

#10 – Fire Escape Ladder

fire escape ladderFor those who live in elevated dwellings, fire escape ladders serve as insurance against the unfortunate. Should a fire break out and prevent departure through an in-facing doorway, a fire escape ladder can be used as an alternate means of retreat.

These ladders are of heavy construction and come in two main forms, solid-state, and folding. Solid-state fire escape ladders mount in a rigid fashion, while folding fire escape ladders can be deployed at a moment’s notice.

#11 – Roof Ladder

roof ladderA roof ladder is essentially an extension ladder that features securement hooks at its upward end.

These hooks clasp over any secured surface along a roof’s edge, in order to provide enhanced stability. 

Ladders of this type are a mainstay of the residential roofing industry but are also used by many private homeowners.

#12 – Boat Ladder

boat ladderThe use of a boat ladder allows those enjoying a weekend on the lake to safely climb aboard their vessel.

Ladders of this configuration hook onto the rear or side of a boat, providing a firm foot and handhold for those that have decided to take a dip in the water.

Boat ladders also serve as emergency equipment, should a boater inadvertently fall into the water.

#13 – RV Ladder

RV ladderAn RV ladder is intended to provide access to the roofline of an recreational vehicle or motorhome, for a wide variety of purposes.

Whether you are attempting to access your recreational vehicle’s roof-mounted A/C unit, or simply wish to wash your RV’s upper expanses, this type of ladder will allow you to do so safely.

RV ladders mount securely to a recreational vehicle’s roof, and angle downward to allow access from the ground below.

#14 – Trampoline Ladder

trampoline ladderMost trampolines are positioned at a height of approximately 36”. In order to reach this height, a trampoline ladder is employed. Ladders of this type mount securely to the lip of a trampoline and make contact with the ground below at their lower end.

Trampoline ladders are generally constructed of a lightweight, yet rigid metal construction, and can be purchased for a reasonable price.

#15 – Platform Ladder

platform ladderAlso known as: warehouse ladder, rolling ladder, rolling staircase

Platform ladders are a fixture in factories and warehouses around the world. These ladders are braced in a manner that makes them self supporting, and most often feature wheels that allow them to be moved from one shelving unit to the next. 

Warehouse ladders come in many different heights, and can often be 20 or more feet tall. This additional height allows access to stored goods that could not otherwise be reached.

#16 – Fixed Ladder

fixed ladderAlso known as: fixed access ladder

Fixed ladders are stationary units that allow individuals to reach the rooftops of commercial buildings, warehouses, and factories. Ladders of this type are constructed to meet industrial standards, and often feature exterior cages to prevent inadvertent slips and falls.

Ladders of a fixed design tend to be accessed most prevalently by maintenance personal, who work at the given facility to which such ladders are affixed.

#17 – Trestle Ladder

trestle ladderAlso known as: double front ladder

A trestle ladder serves as a hybrid between a standard self-supporting portable ladder, and an extension ladder-type upper segment. Ladders of this type are often used in pairs, connected by a centralized scaffold section.

Trestle ladders are used for a variety of purposes, including home improvement and painting projects. Ladders of this variety range significantly in length and often measure more than 20 feet in length.

#18 – Articulated Ladder

articulated ladderAn articulated ladder consists of one or more locking joints allowing it to be set up in a variety of configurations.

A ladder of this design is portable and is often used as a step ladder, extension ladder, or a scaffold/worktable. 

The locking joints on an articulated ladder must be inspected and maintained regularly to ensure safe working conditions. 

#19 – Combination Ladder

combination ladderA combination ladder is a portable ladder capable of serving multiple jobs. A ladder of this type can be used as a single or extension ladder. A combination ladder also functions as a step ladder or trestle ladder, requiring no wall to support the ladder. 

Combination ladders are not only quite popular for their multipurpose use, but the portability and easy storage ability. A ladder of this type is capable of being folded down quite small making it extremely easy to transport or store.

#20 – Single Ladder

single ladderAlso known as: straight ladder

A single ladder consists of a basic design, that is the single largest in composition. A ladder of this type is not self-supporting in nature and is non-adjustable. Single or straight ladders are offered in many different lengths that range between 5’-20’. 

Single ladders are utilized in many different trades and can be found in the garages of private residences across the world.

#21 – Stairwell Ladder

stairwell ladderA stairwell ladder possesses the unique feature of having independently adjustable legs. Each leg of a stairwell ladder can be adjusted in a separate fashion apart from it’s counterpart.

This allows for effective leveling when positioned on, or over a set of steps. Once adjusted, ladders of this nature are remarkably stable.

Stairwell ladders are used for many different at-home projects, including those involving painting and light fixture maintenance.

#22 – Sectional Ladder

sectional ladderAlso known as: builder’s ladder

Sectional ladders are highly favored for their wide range of capabilities, and ability to be stored in a relatively compact manner. Ladders of this nature come in multiple sections, which can be assembled to achieve the desired length.

Most sectional ladders come in 4 individual segments. These segments include a base, two center segments, and a top segment.

Sectional ladders tend to be favored by those within the industrial window cleaning trade. This stems from the fact that ladders of this nature can be easily stowed in a moderately sized work vehicle.

#23 – Job-Made Ladder

job-made ladderA job made ladder is different from almost all other ladders. It is a temporary ladder that is meant to only serve a purpose for a short time, until a permanent ladder can replace it or it is no longer needed.

A job made ladder is a wood ladder that is generally erected on construction sites to access certain areas. Once a permanent stairway has been completed, then the job made ladder will be disposed of. 

Job-made ladders are not to be constructed to extend over 24 feet in height without adding a platform and a second section. 

#24 – Blanket Ladder

blanket ladderBlanket Ladders are not intended for use in climbing, but rather for storage. These ladders are decorative in nature, and are widely used by those who quilt or fashion homemade blankets.

These quilts or blankets are draped across each rung of a blanket ladder, forming an aesthetically pleasing display.

The vast majority of blanket lasers are constructed of wood and are designed to impart a rustic or primitive feel.

#25 – Bunk Bed Ladder

bunk bed ladderFor those who grew up sleeping on the top bunk of a bunk bed, the use of a bunk bed ladder was a way of life.

Ladders of this type attach to the top deck of a bunk bed, allowing a safe climb for the upper tier’s occupant.

Depending upon the type of bunk bed in question, bunk bed ladders tend to be of a metal or wooden construction.

#26 – Bangor Ladder

bangor ladderBangor Ladders are widely used in firefighting and rescue efforts, due primarily to their extended reach.

Ladders of this nature typically reach to heights in excess of 40 feet and feature outward-facing poles for enhanced mobility.

In the present, Bangor ladders are constructed of aluminum, though many early examples were built from wood, fixed in place with metal fasteners.

#27 – Pompier Ladder

pompier ladderAlso known as: hook ladder

Pompier ladders are used almost exclusively for firefighting and search and rescue type endeavors. These ladders feature a hooked upper segment that can be hung over an open window or railing.

When in place, pompier ladders are capable of supporting an individual’s weight, without lower support. In many cases, pompier ladders serve as the only viable means of rescue, especially in multi-level buildings.

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