Long extension ladder extended up to a tall gable.

How to Decide on the Best Ladder for House Painting


A good ladder will be needed if you are going to paint your home. With the correct choice you can be productive and safe. I, like many professional painters, choose a ladder that will be strong and stable but lightweight.

Type 1, aluminum, offers a comfortable safe experience and is the best choice for general purpose use.

The most common types used for house painting is the extension and the step. You will probably need more than one size of each type.  Your needs might be a bit different. Therefore you need to consider the steps involved when choosing one to suit you. Make your choice based on what is comfortable for you to use and feels safe.


Extension & step ladders.

A very important consideration. With so many different types it can be difficult to choose. The style will determine what it is capable of doing.

Step Stools

Offer a very stable and safe alternative if you don’t need much height. Typically have wide steps and a comfortable standing platform. Height limited to 4 feet or less.


Quality brands have features like a tool tray, automatic pail shelf, slip resistant steps, rubber molded foot pads and extra braces for stability. Available in heights from 4 feet to 20 feet or more.


Craig Crowder using an extension ladder.

All the benefits of a step ladder plus a large wide platform to work on. Available in heights up to 14 feet.

Twin Step

Like having two step ladders in one, a load can be applied to both sides. Two people can be on this ladder at the same time. It weighs more than a standard step ladder. Available in heights to 20 feet. The platform provides a safe and comfortable work area.


Stability is very important. Look for interlocking side rails and modified I beam construction. “D” shaped rungs will be more comfortable than round rung models. Available to heights of 40 feet.


An extension ladder should be 8-10 feet longer than the highest area you need to reach. This will allow for proper setup, height restrictions and extending a few feet above the roof line.

The highest safest standing level is 4 rungs down from the top.

A step ladder should be used on level stable ground and has a permitted standing level of 2 steps down from the top. The maximum reaching height is 3-4 feet higher.


The duty rating is the maximum safe load that can be supported. They are constructed and tested to safely hold a specific amount of weight.

A person plus the tools to be used must weigh less than this capacity. A 5 gallon bucket of paint can weigh 60 pounds, combine this with a 165 pound person and you have 225 pounds.

Ladder Duty Ratings:

  • Type 3 – 200 pound capacity, Light Duty. Household use.
  • Type 2 – 225 pound capacity, Medium Duty. Painter and handyman.
  • Type 1 – 250 pound capacity, Heavy Duty.
  • Type 1A – 300 pound capacity, Industrial Duty.


The most popular contractor ladders are Type 1 and 2. These offer the duty rating needed, plus a more stable feel as compared to a type III.


The final choice is the material the ladder is made of.

  • Wood – Available in pine. Non-conductive, safe around electricity. Heavy when compared to other materials.
  • Fiberglass – Very strong, stable and corrosion resistant. Non-conductive, also for use around electricity.
  • Aluminum – Strong and stable. Corrosion resistant and lightweight. Conducts electricity. The most common material used.


About the Author:
Crowder Painting in Colorado Springs delivers top-notch interior and exterior painting services with a focus on precision and quality. Contact us today!

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