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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
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    Forest Lake MN
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    307

    ladder

    I am finding a need occasionally to get on top of my house. I have a multi position that is great for many things but flexes a lot when used at max extension that it is rated for. I think a good extension latter may be a wise investment. Any recommendations on aluminum vs fiber glass, how much longer should I go than expected height I need, and anything else to look for?

    Thank you

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Location
    Oakley, CA
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    322
    I have a fiberglass ladder that I use when I need to get to my second story. The only problem is that now that I am over 70 it is getting a lot heavier.

    Wayne

  3. #3
    Studier is not always better, but is always heavier. I have a real lightweight aluminum I can easily throw up myself. it doesn't really flex that much at all. I think its a 28'

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Jan 2018
    Location
    Vancouver Canada
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    259
    As a general contractor, I keep a close eye on equipment my subs use. Safety on my sites is paramount.
    It depends on your need.
    My electricians tend to use wooden or more frequently fibreglass ladders, but it also depends on height or proximity to electrical situations.
    My painters use almost exclusively aluminum extension ladders. They DO sway, but you just get used to it. I also insist they tie off the ladder at the top.
    If you are concerned about movement, why not think of a boom lift?
    Young enough to remember doing it;
    Old enough to wish I could do it again.

  5. #5
    I use Werner fiberglass extension ladders and I would add these few things to keep in mind...first, the color is related to the weight rating. Mine are all red/orange looking in color. This is the heavier rated ladders {I think they are rated at 300 pounds}. Yellow is the medium rated type and green are I guess made for little animals like squirrels to climb on. Second, Werner makes some really nice stand offs that attach to the ladder to make roof entry and exit safer and also to reduce any damages to the structure you are getting on. Stand offs prevent you from leaning the ladder directly on your gutter. And third, I learned this the hard way...DO NOT allow your fiberglass ladder to sit in direct sunlight, not even for a day. Direct summer sunlight can and will warp, twist and/or crack and otherwise destroy a fiberglass ladder. The longer the ladder the more expensive and the easier it is to damage this way. If you are around any electricity you want either wood or fiberglass. After loosing one glass ladder to the sun I wish I had aluminum. They can sit or even be stored in the sun indefinitely and I am really not around any electric stuff anyways. I do believe aluminum ladders are more costly.

    Edit: I just remembered one more thing...the rungs, the cross piece that you actually stand and climb on should be "D" shaped if you will be working on the ladder or spending any time on it. These are way more comfortable to your feet than standard {also cheaper} round rungs.
    Last edited by Martin Siebert; 03-13-2019 at 1:33 PM.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    4,016
    I bought a pair of fire fighter boots for ladder work. they have a steel plate in the sole so the arch of the foot is protected. Not all boots have that ladder sole.
    BillD

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
    Posts
    4,016
    I think fiberglass is overrated. if the rubber ladder feet are good that should be enough protection if they are resting on dry wood or brick. If I am working near power lines then yes fiberglass is worth the trouble

  8. #8
    I had a Louisville aluminium 36' type 1A extension ladder that was rock solid. I gave it to a friend when I moved. He likes it for the same reason. They are heavier than the usual cheap ones people like to buy but they don't flex and wobble either. I want to get a shorter one for this house.
    https://louisvilleladder.com/typefin.../laddertype/11

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Feb 2014
    Location
    Lake Gaston, Henrico, NC
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    4,747
    Aluminum is lighter to handle. Fiberglass extension ladders are typically more stable. If it's only going to be used for getting up, and down off the roof, get one that will go up about three feet past the edge where you will access the roof. It's easier to get on, and off the ladder with two or three feet sticking up past the edge it's leaning against. Just don't step on a tread that is above the edge of the roof.

    If it's just going to be for that one use, put a stabilizer on it so that the stabilizer will stand against the surface of the roof, holding it off the gutter, or fascia, and allow the extra 2 or 3 feet above the stabilizer.

    Ladder duty rating should depend on your body weight. I would not go any heavier than you need, just because it will be so much easier to handle.

    Don't drop it taking it down, and keep the rope mechanism working by taking care of it. Place the feet against the house, and walk it up, if it's heavy at all.
    Last edited by Tom M King; 03-13-2019 at 4:38 PM.

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    The Hartland of Michigan
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    7,303
    Quote Originally Posted by Bill Dufour View Post
    I bought a pair of fire fighter boots for ladder work. they have a steel plate in the sole so the arch of the foot is protected. Not all boots have that ladder sole.
    BillD
    They also prevent puncture by nails and other sharp objects .
    Never, under any circumstances, consume a laxative and sleeping pill, on the same night

  11. #11
    Join Date
    Feb 2003
    Location
    Lafayette, IN
    Posts
    4,348
    For occasional homeowner use, you can't beat aluminum for weight and value. Fiberglass ladders are heavy and expensive, and they do eventually fail.

    Whatever you weigh, get a Type I or IA. They will be sturdier.

    In almost 20 years as a painting contractor, I HATED extending the ladder above the roof. I felt much safer stepping over the top of the ladder than trying to step around it at the edge of the roof. A stabilizer made stepping over even easier.
    Jason

    "Don't get stuck on stupid." --Lt. Gen. Russel Honore


  12. #12
    Join Date
    Sep 2016
    Location
    Modesto, CA, USA
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    4,016
    San Francisco fire department still uses wooden ladders made by the department ladder shop.
    Bil lD.

    https://vimeo.com/13190227

  13. #13
    Join Date
    May 2005
    Location
    Highland MI
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    I have a light duty 16 foot aluminum extension ladder which is super easy to move, my go-to for changing bulbs in the stairwell and getting up on the roof of my ranch style home. If I need something sturdier and a bit longer I get my wife's grandfather's old 20 footer industrial weight extension ladder. I believe it is magnesium. Wide and heavy it does not wiggle, its round rungs are uncomfortable on the feet and one rung is missing to accommodate the latch mechanism so you have to watch your step when climbing. I have an 11 foot Home Depot Little Giant clone I keep with my RV. It comes in handy in both the straight and A-frame configuration. Then there is my nemesis, a lightweight wiggly old 28 footer at church I have used solo at full extension more times than I care to remember.
    NOW you tell me...

  14. #14
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Location
    Forest Lake MN
    Posts
    307
    Quote Originally Posted by Aaron Rosenthal View Post
    As a general contractor, I keep a close eye on equipment my subs use. Safety on my sites is paramount.
    It depends on your need.
    My electricians tend to use wooden or more frequently fibreglass ladders, but it also depends on height or proximity to electrical situations.
    My painters use almost exclusively aluminum extension ladders. They DO sway, but you just get used to it. I also insist they tie off the ladder at the top.
    If you are concerned about movement, why not think of a boom lift?
    My understanding of a boom is that it would be well outside my price range. My hope is that a really good ladder would work well enough?

  15. #15
    As a retired Fire Chief and spending much time on ladders both in my profession that began in the 70's and in personal life, my climbing began on wooden ladders (both at work and home) and progressed to aluminum. With the fire department(s) I have been on, I have regularly climbed a variety of aluminum portable straight, multi-position and extension ladders up to 35' tall, as well as our steel 75' aerial ladder truck, though I have also climbed additional ladders and ladder tower truck ladders much larger (in excess of 100') and of both steel and aluminum construction. Our ladders were also regularly tested by a certified company for safety, as well as regular in-department checks.

    While I haven't had much direct experience with fiberglass ladders, my main concern with fiberglass is the durability and not knowing if or when the fiberglass has reached a fatigue point. Also, should the ladder have been dropped or stressed in some way (particularly if used by someone else in which you wouldn't be aware of damage occurring), I would think that it would be difficult to know unless it was carefully inspected. I think that fiberglass can also be heavier than a comparable aluminium ladder, so weight may be a concern. In regard to conducting electricity, if there is a chance the ladder will come in contact with a power line, the power to the area should be shut off, plain and simple. Admittedly we would frequently find fire / rescue situations in which we were not able to secure the power before operating in an area - and would use extreme care and available precautions - for a homeowner or non-emergency situation, prudence would call for safety first.

    I have found that quality aluminum ladders provide long-lasting durability, strength, a reasonable weight and a safety factor I am comfortable with. Personally I have a couple 6' aluminum step ladders and a 17 ft Little Giant multi-position ladder that I just got for xmas and like a lot (it replaces an older multi-position ladder that was of a much different design and that I felt uncomfortable with, particularly with my body not being as capable of taking a fall as in my younger years). I also have a 24' aluminum extension ladder that is relatively light in weight and easy to move around and work on exterior projects at the house or shop - this ladder is my regular go-to ladder. My final ladder is a 40' aluminum extension ladder that is somewhat heavy to move and use (though my wife and I are capable of doing so) and is necessary to reach the higher points of both my previous home, as well as portions of my present one-story home that is built on a grade with a walk-out basement - this ladder feels quite sturdy, even at full extension, and I have had it for probably 25 - 30 years now and still feel comfortable with it.

    For a length, if you will be climbing onto a roof, it would be best for the ladder to extend at least three rungs (preferably four rungs) past the point you will be getting off and on the ladder so that you will have a point to hold onto.

    Above all - Be Safe. If it doesn't feel right, consider an alternative. You only live once and you want to do it in the best condition you can.

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