Written by Terry Smith
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Best and Safest Step Ladders reviewed for price and reliability
This article was last updated on August 7th, 2021 at 3:12 am
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For such a relatively simple tool, a good step ladder is an incredibly useful bit of kit, and something that all homes should have at hand. Working at heights, even just a few feet off the floor and have the distinct advantage over tripod ladders of being more sturdy, can be highly dangerous if you don’t have a stable platform on which to work from, and that is why a well-built, thoughtfully designed, step ladder is worth its weight in gold.
Best step ladders
Step ladders aren’t just for tradesmen and DIY enthusiasts, although they are a part of most tool sets for good reason. A smaller step ladder, say one that only has two or three steps, can make those home cleaning tasks like polishing high wooden shelves, or cleaning the top of kitchen cupboards, so much easier and safer. We’ve reviewed the best step ladders based on durability, steadiness under foot, price, build quality, how easy the open and close, how well they secure once locked open, and importantly how sturdy they are when you’re reaching. We have you completely covered.
Best Step Ladders Buyer’s Guide
Before you make your final decision on which of these excellent step ladders to buy, take a quick look at this buyer’s guide that might give you a thing or two to consider before handing over your money.
What will you be using the step ladder for?
I know this is a bit of an open-ended question as we buy step ladders for all sorts of reasons, and usually for general house-based tasks, but what I mean is: are you mostly going to be using it indoors? At home? Outside? On site? etc.
- If you only want something to help with the cleaning of the inside of a modern house, you don’t need a huge step ladder. In fact, it will probably be a hindrance, being heavy and cumbersome to move through doorways and get into tight corners. For housework, I’d say that a 2-4 step ladder is sufficient, however you might need a larger one if you have a more traditional home with high ceilings.
- For working in the garden, you’ll want something larger, at least 4 steps I would say but it depends on the height of your hedges (you could always go for a cordless pole hedge trimmer if you don’t like heights with power tools), gutters, etc.
The ground you work on outside will likely be uneven, so a stable step-ladder, or one with special features for working on such surfaces should be at the top of your list.
If you intend to be working up really high, say pruning tall trees, or cleaning upstairs windows, the Hailo combi ladder we reviewed above is an excellent choice.
- For those of you who will be working on site, or in places where this is a risk of electric related accidents, you really should be looking for a fibreglass step-ladder, and not an alloy one. Fibreglass step-ladders are non-conductive and usually tested up to large voltages like the DJM Direct product that has been put through its paces in tests using 30,000 volts.
How often will you be using your step ladder?
This is an important thing to consider because it will probably affect how much you should be thinking about paying for your step ladder. Now, I’m not saying you should go with the cheapest, budget product out there as I would never recommend using inadequate tools, especially not ones you are going to be standing on at heights! No, what I’m suggesting is that if you intend to be using your ladder on a regular basis, then by all means pay more and get something that is built to last. On the other hand, if you will only get occasional use out of it, a mid-range step-ladder will more than suffice. I use my step ladders for cleaning the shed roof, cutting down trees safely, cleaning shed gutters, installing gutter guards, and many more I can’t be bothered to list, hence I bought the most expensive Fibreglass Step Ladder. Actually I’ll list one more, I even used them when I insulated my shed and converted it into an office come workshop space. Here’s a picture of just how sturdy these ladders are at stretch:
Although being touted as for electricians, they work wonders in the garden, don’t rust, and are ultra sturdy high up stretching. A real garden professional tip.
Where will you store your step ladder?
This will affect how fast your ladder naturally deteriorates, so it’s a good thing to think about before buying. If you’re going to be using your step ladder indoors, and also storing it inside your house, say in a cupboard; it will probably last quite a long time no matter what the materials used in its construction.
For step ladders that are going to be used outside a lot, or left out in the garden at the mercy of the elements, or even in a cold or damp shed or garage, you need to be thinking about things like ‘is this galvanised?’ or at least coated with something to delay or stop the ladder rusting. Especially if theres no shed base, moisture rises easily.
There are quite a few different types of step ladder to choose from and they differ not only in height, but also in design, and the materials they are made from. If you would like to know more about the available options, you can check out our buyer’s guide that can be found by scrolling down this page. But first, we are going to have a look at some of the best step ladders that you can currently buy. We have got our hands on a few and have put them through their paces to see which are a “step up’ from the rest of the pack. Enjoy.
1. DJM Direct Electricians Heavy Duty Tread EN131 Fibreglass Step Ladder
Our pick for the best all-round step ladder has to go to the DJM Direct Electricians step ladder. I liked it so much, I actually use one at home now, and I’m a picky so-and-so at the best of times when it comes to my tools. It is available in three different sizes; 5,6, and 8 tread, and they are all really competitively priced for something this good. I use the 8 tread and I can get up on a 2.5m shed roof to clean with a petrol pressure washer in hand effortlessly and well balanced:
Of course, there are cheaper products out there, but from what I’ve seen they aren’t up to the same standard. The aluminium and fiberglass construction of the DJM Direct step ladder plays the balancing act of being lightweight enough to carry around without breaking your back, and still providing enough support for a heavy, full grown, adult; extremely well.
The intelligently placed built-in support bars, good quality rivets, and well-built rubber feet, keep this step ladder feeling completely stable and sturdy, without a wobble in sight, and it has a maximum load of 150kg, which I would guess it could handle easily. When compared with my old alloy ladders, this product feels solid as a rock.
For electricians or DIY jobs that include working with wiring and such, this is perfect, and has been tested to be non-conductive to 30,000 volts. Even if you’re just changing a high up light bulb, this ladder could potentially save your life, should the unthinkable happen.
One thing is for sure, this is a heavy-duty piece of kit that has been built to take a bit of abuse and keep on kicking. Everything seems as robust and durable as I’ve seen over the years, right down to the galvanised hinges that will fight off rust for years to come. Without doubt, an absolutely quality step ladder that is worth it’s pace at the top of our list.
2. 4-Step Stool Ladder Portable Folding Anti-Slip with Rubber Hand Grip
As far as well priced step ladders for home use go, this one from Wolfwise is hard to beat. Its combination of sturdiness and practical features make it a very good buy.
When unfolded it stands just under 56 inches (145.5cm) tall, and while that is probably too small for commercial use, it is perfect for cleaning those hard-to-reach places around the house.
Actually, the measurement from the ground to the top step is 36.4 inches (92.5cm), but above that step you’ll find the frame extends up to the 56” and forms a rounded handrail/leg rest for safety. The handrail has an orange plastic coating for a better grip, and actually looks better than I thought it would.
You can be sure of a good footing on these steps, as they are both wide and deep, with the top step being even larger at 5.3 inches (13.5cm). I really like little details like this as it shows that the company has actually put a little thought into how the ladder will be used safely, and not just knocking them off of the production line without a care.
The stainless-steel frame on this step ladder is held together by good quality screws, and has a crossbar support system covering most of the ladder. This makes it a really stable product, no matter what step you are standing on and working from, and anti-slip feet keep it from moving around on tiles and wooden flooring.
When I saw photos of this product, I thought that all those support bars would make it a bit stiff and problematic to fold the step ladder up, but I was very wrong, and you can quickly fold it down for storage with no problems at all.
At around 6 kilograms in weight, it isn’t overly heavy, and the fact that it is able to hold in excess of 150 kilograms tells you this is no cheap and flimsy step ladder, and it gives you confidence while working on it that I think is worth paying the little bit extra for. On top of that, I have to say that this is a really good-looking ladder and wouldn’t be an eyesore tucked away in the corner of a room. Another great product to add to the list of best step ladders, right here.
3. Hailo TopLine L100 8050-307 Aluminium Safety Stepladder with Multifunctional Shell, Safety Holder, Platform Lock and 130 mm Extra-Deep Steps
If it wasn’t for the excellent DJM Direct product, this one would have definitely been my number one pick for a larger step ladder. It features five steps, with the top one being larger, being made of zinc plated steel, and acting as a good working platform. Each lower step is a good size, made from good quality, black, aluminium, and has anti-slip ridges on them.
Beyond the top step, the side rails continue higher to make climbing easier, and also act as a leg rest to lean into once at the top. The top of the ladder can be extended or retracted an extra few inches on top of that, and it is a quick and simple mechanism to use.
Also found at the top of the ladder are handy features for securing things too, such as a bucket loop which comes in very handy when cleaning windows, and the hooks for hanging a variety of tools onto. Even the plastic top of the ladder, that these hooks and loop are attached too, comes in handy for resting cloths and sponges on. It’s all very nice and practical.
Standing 184cm tall, and having a max weight load of 150kg, this step ladder can be used for a wide range of jobs; both in the home and outside. What’s more, this model features Hailo’s ‘easy click’ system that allows you to change the feet of the ladder to suit the surface you are working on, such as the round, disc shaped, feet for working on grass, or the feet that will prevent marking on your laminate or parquet flooring. That’s a nice feature right there.
The absence of crossbars for support had me a little worried about sturdiness, I have to admit, but the Hailo Topline step ladder is well put together, feels solid, and doesn’t wobble or feel unstable; and that’s after testing it on multiple surfaces.
Priced at under a hundred pounds, I’d have to say that this is very fairly priced considering all the little extras that aren’t that commonly found, and the fact that it is just a very well-made step ladder. Yet another cracking product to choose from.
4. Yiyai 4 Step Ladder Aluminium
I have a neighbour who has the larger, 7 step version of this Yiyai product, and it was on his recommendation that I decided to give them a run for their money; and I’m glad I did.
This is another excellent option for people who are looking for a smaller step ladder for home or office use. Available in sizes ranging from 3 step to 8 step, and all competitively priced, Yiyai’s ladders are proof that just because something is made in China, doesn’t mean it isn’t any good.
Made from aluminum alloy, this is very lightweight. In fact, at under 3 kilograms it is an ideal step ladder for older folks or people with less upper body strength. However, don’t let the lack of weight trick you into thinking that this isn’t a strong product. It can hold up to 150 kg, just like most of our featured ladders here today.
It is also very sturdy, with very little to no wobble on a flat surface, and the ribbed steps and top platform give enough grip to make you feel safe while using the ladder.
The rivets holding everything together are good quality, and the cross bars across the bottom and in the top corners add more support and stability.
For extra safety, there are the usual features; non-slip feet, hand rail, etc. and I did feel very comfortable using the Yiyai ladder, even on the top step/platform with my legs resting on the hand rail. Storing this is made very easy due to the fact that it is such a lightweight ladder, and also that it folds down nice and flat. This means that you have the choice of storing it away under or behind something, or even up on a higher shelf in the garage, not something that would be easy with a heavier step ladder.
There are no special or outstanding features with Yiyai’s offering like what we got with the Hailo model, but nonetheless, it is a very good option for a general home use step ladder.
5. Hailo 9309-501 Superior Quality Profi Combination Ladder with 2 x 9 Plus 1 x 8 Rungs
Ok, if we are being technical (and a little pedantic), you can say that this is not strictly a step ladder and is, in fact, a combination ladder. However, it can be used as a step ladder and that’s why I’m including it here in this list. This is the second Hailo product on this best step ladders list, and no I’m not getting paid by them, it’s just that they make really good stuff, and this ladder is no exception.
First of all, for versatility, this is a hard product to beat. It’s ability to be used as a step ladder, and also as a single extension ladder, means that there are not many jobs that you won’t be able to handle, no matter what the height. At its full extension, this massive ladder reaches heights of 560cm, but you really don’t need to have it all the way at that height. In fact, you can simply adjust this ladder section by section to an appropriate setting.
With the extra height, you need extra stability, and this German company has come up with a great solution. At the bottom of the ladder, you can choose to fit the included stability bar and this gives you a lot of control over the balance of the ladder. This bar can be adjusted either left or right along the arch using the foot pedal and can compensate for up to 15cm of uneven ground. It’s simple, clever, and works really well, especially on surfaces that aren’t flat such as lawns.
Stability wise, this product is as solid as a rock. With or without the stability bar fitted on the legs, there is no wobbling around even when the person on the ladder is moving around a lot, and this makes it a great choice if you need to trim the tops of tall hedges with a power hedge trimmer or similar.
I will say that this is certainly not a lightweight product, and at around 20kg, it is probably not the best choice if you’re getting a bit long in the tooth or have some kind of injury or disability. Apart from that, there isn’t really anything to find fault about on this combi-ladder. You could say that it is on the expensive side of things, but it is a top quality product, made in Germany, and has very unique and clever features, so I’d say it’s worth it.
6. Louisville Ladder FS1505 Step Ladder, 5-Feet, Orange
The Louisville company is well known for delivering step ladders of exceptional standard, and they’ve hit the mark again here with this 5step workman’s step ladder. Make no mistake, this product has been designed to be used by contractors, workmen, and serious DIY enthusiasts, and is a heavy-duty bit of kit.
Like our number one pick; the DJM Direct step ladder, this one has also been constructed using fiberglass to make it non-conductive and safe to use with electrical wiring and currents. It is the top of this step ladder that really lets you know it’s intended purposes though. The molded plastic top doubles up as a tool tray, and even has specially designed slots to hold things like your power drill, screwdriver, tape measure, fittings, and more. This simple idea is a god-send and really helps cut down on the time jobs take, as you’re not wasting most of it running up and down the ladder every five minutes.
The Louisville step ladder is solidly built; the steps are double riveted for extra strength, the materials used for each component are top-notch, and the whole thing just gives you the impression of a very well-made product. It has a maximum weight load capacity of over 300lbs, so pretty much on par with all the other top step ladders in this list.
Likewise, stability is excellent, and I think a lot of it has to do with the large plastic feet with rubber bottoms, and the inside spreader braces. I really like the softer rubber bottoms of the feet, as it means I don’t have to worry about scratching floors when I’m doing jobs on decking or indoors.
In summary, the Louisville 5 step ladder is a great looking, well thought out, bit of kit and has some nice features like the rubber bottoms of the feet, and the excellent ‘toolbox’ ladder top. It is strong, sturdy, and most of all safe to use; even with electrical systems.