The Homeowner's Guide to Purchasing a Ladder

October 22, 2020

woman painting her home's exterior on a ladder

You've bought your beautiful new home! From the adventure of house shopping to the challenge of navigating the red tape to closing day, achieving this goal has been a dream come true. And now comes the truly enjoyable part: picking out furniture, decorating, changing bulbs and hanging lights, and performing general maintenance to keep your amazing place, well, amazing! Of course, one of the essential tools to assist you with all this is the good old ladder. While it's generally a simple device, the type of ladder you pick dramatically influences the ease or difficulty level of many projects, like installing hidden doors. Here are some aspects to consider when purchasing yours — and why we recommend a Murphy Ladder.

Ladder Construction Materials

Ladders are typically made from one of four basic materials: steel, fiberglass, wood, and aluminum. While they're all good, some are more suited to specific jobs than others.


Of the four types, steel is the most heavy-duty. Steel ladders can handle a lot of weight and are built for tough jobs. However, they're significantly heavier than aluminum. So, for this reason, they can be more challenging to handle and store. You might not enjoy slinging a steel ladder around your kitchen.


While fiberglass ladders are usually more expensive than wood or aluminum, they're more resistant to the elements. Unlike aluminum and steel, they're not good conductors of electricity, which is a useful safety feature when working outside or near power. They're also strong (even more robust than aluminum) and long-lasting.


Similar to fiberglass, wood ladders can't conduct electricity as long as they remain dry. They won't get very hot when exposed to direct sunlight for an extended period. The downside to wood ladders is that they're heavy, and they don't have a long life.


This metal is even lighter than fiberglass, making it easy to carry from place to place and stow with minimal fuss. Aluminum ladders have the lightest weight and are the most affordable of all the choices. They do become a bit weaker in the heat, and because aluminum is a softer metal, they're likely to bend if you exceed the ladder's weight capacity. That said, aluminum ladders are still plenty tough.

Basic Types of Ladders

Although there are a total of nine different types of ladders, there are a few that stand out as the most popular.

The step ladder (also called an "A-frame") is by far the winner as the household favorite since it's easy to use and aids with so many tasks. Step ladders support themselves and come in sizes from 4 to 20 feet

Extension ladders are also a good choice for the homestead because of their flexible design. You can adjust the ladder's height as needed, which means they work great for outdoor projects like cleaning out gutters or painting your house's exterior. 

You may already be familiar with the straight ladder. Think of it as the no-frills original of the ladder world. It's fixed and non-adjustable, but like the extension ladder, this type needs to be leaned against something. 

A nifty gadget to keep in mind is the multi-purpose ladder. These provide the benefits of two or more types, such as an extension and step ladder in one. It's a "get 'er done" tool and perfect for do-it-yourselfers.

Murphy Ladder: Your All-In-One Solution

The Murphy Ladder is a unique multi-purpose ladder designed with the new homeowner in mind. With three sizes to choose from, you get the convenience of a straight ladder and step ladder in one. Aluminum construction gives you lightweight portability with no pinch hazards and strength that can stand up to the wear and tear of a job site. For questions about the Murphy Ladder or ladder questions in general, give us a shout, and we'll be happy to provide top-rung service! 

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