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Old 09-15-2010, 03:19 PM
 
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Default Choosing a ladder: aluminum vs fiberglass

I bought a 6' aluminum step ladder (Werner) yesterday. I really only need to reach the garage and lightbulbs on the front of my house.

I started to climb the ladder and it felt really wobbly (on a concrete garage floor), and I felt uncomfortable with the reach necessary to get to the lights (10'). But, I was not on the 2nd-to-top step, because of discomfort with the wobbliness.

I am going to return the ladder and am now debating between an 8' fiberglass or aluminum.

Do you find that fiberglass feels significantly more study and stable? The advantage of aluminum is the light weight which is important to me. Also, I just hate ladders and heights. so part of this is emotional on my part. But I'm curious of others' preferences between the 2 materials. I understand about the conductivity issue with aluminum.

I also have 8' ceilings in my house, but assume the 8' ladder would still fit if I wanted to use it for painting or something, but that it just might be a little awkward maneuvering it around.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:00 PM
 
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Default Fiberglass is often lighter than Aluminum...

...and the psychological effect of having a creaky , clanky aluminum ladder tends to increase the sensation of wobbliness in contrast to the reassuring dull thud of fibderglass. They are a lot more expensive though...

Another good option are the multi jointed ladders that you can configure into a platform. Tends to a bit tricker to setup, but a lot more stability.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:24 PM
 
Location: Visitation between Wal-Mart & Home Depot
8,310 posts, read 20,513,182 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chet everett View Post
...and the psychological effect of having a creaky , clanky aluminum ladder tends to increase the sensation of wobbliness in contrast to the reassuring dull thud of fibderglass. They are a lot more expensive though...

Another good option are the multi jointed ladders that you can configure into a platform. Tends to a bit tricker to setup, but a lot more stability.

YouTube - Home Shopping Ladder Blooper

You don't mean this one, do you? I crack up at this poor fool's misfortune every time I watch this video. How can it be that funny every time?
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:26 PM
 
Location: WA
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The FG ladders feel more sturdy but weigh more so I always buy aluminum.

I have found that ladders too tall for a given room are just a pain. I use a 6 foot ladder upstairs where the ceilings are 7.5 and a 10 foot downstairs where the ceilings are 12.

Don't buy a 8' foot ladder for use in a house with 8' ceilings.
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Old 09-15-2010, 04:39 PM
 
Location: Columbia, California
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It is a no brainer for me, aluminum ladders are not OSHA approved. All my ladders make trips to job sites so they have to conform.
You may want to look at a 7 foot ladder if it may come inside the house. 6 footers are the cheapest to buy as they are the most common. I pay twice as much for a 4 foot ladder than for a 6.

Aluminum ladders do not seem to last as long, nice and tight for a year than very loose the next year. Aluminum will also mark walls and products, like a pencil they will leave black marks on anything they contact with.

Fiberglass ladders last a long time if cared for. I just replaced the 4 footer after 14 years in heavy commercial service. It is still very usable and is used at home all the time.
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:39 PM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
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Aluminum VS fiberglass has nothing to do with ladder strength.

You have 3 basic levels of quality. A TYPE 1 will be super heavy duty thick material and can stand a specific very high weight load. TYPE 1A is considered industrial rated. TYPE 2 is a medium duty which is very stable and good for all homeowners and most contractors. TYPE 3 is a cheap piece of junk and just not safe. No contractor worth his salt would ever use one and only homeowners who only look at price will buy a TYPE 3. On a TYPE 3 six to eight foot ladder you are putting your life in danger on the top steps.

Fiberglass is considered trade specific for Electricians though everyone uses them. Fiberglass does not conduct electricity, aluminum does though it is a poor conductor of electricity, still enough to kill your azz so don't use aluminum while doing wiring. Fiberglass ladders are heavier then their counterparts.

Wooden ladders are generally not rated though I have seen a few with a rating sticker.

The very best and safest ladders on earth are made by The Little Giant Ladder Company. Do not ever compare that little junky look alike copy cat that Walmart sells with the Little Giant

Last edited by desertsun41; 09-15-2010 at 06:02 PM..
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Old 09-15-2010, 05:54 PM
 
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What's type 1A? I see lots rated that, including the Little Giant. I just can't use that multi-configuration model, don't need it.
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Old 09-15-2010, 06:03 PM
 
Location: Houston, Texas
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Quote:
Originally Posted by didee View Post
What's type 1A? I see lots rated that, including the Little Giant. I just can't use that multi-configuration model, don't need it.
I corrected a missed letter in my post which explains TYPE 1A. It is industrial rated. TYPE 1 is heavy duty.
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Old 09-15-2010, 06:09 PM
 
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Thanks. I sure wish I could find a 7' ladder. It would be perfect. They are few and far between and only see 1 model available online which will really rack up the total expense due to shipping.
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Old 09-15-2010, 08:41 PM
 
27,209 posts, read 19,713,013 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by desertsun41 View Post
Aluminum VS fiberglass has nothing to do with ladder strength.

You have 3 basic levels of quality. A TYPE 1 will be super heavy duty thick material and can stand a specific very high weight load. TYPE 1A is considered industrial rated. TYPE 2 is a medium duty which is very stable and good for all homeowners and most contractors. TYPE 3 is a cheap piece of junk and just not safe. No contractor worth his salt would ever use one and only homeowners who only look at price will buy a TYPE 3. On a TYPE 3 six to eight foot ladder you are putting your life in danger on the top steps.

Fiberglass is considered trade specific for Electricians though everyone uses them. Fiberglass does not conduct electricity, aluminum does though it is a poor conductor of electricity, still enough to kill your azz so don't use aluminum while doing wiring. Fiberglass ladders are heavier then their counterparts.

Wooden ladders are generally not rated though I have seen a few with a rating sticker.

The very best and safest ladders on earth are made by The Little Giant Ladder Company. Do not ever compare that little junky look alike copy cat that Walmart sells with the Little Giant
Aluminum is actually a pretty good conductor of electricity. Usually the main feeds from transformers to meter bases are aluminum because of aluminum's price and its conductivity.

Otherwise I agree... Fiberglass is required by OSHA to be compliant for electrical work.
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