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What Are Ladders Made of?
In addition to ladder types, different ladder materials present unique pros and cons. A majority of ladders are made from metal, wood or fiberglass. The material that works best for you will depend on your budget, project requirements and transportation requirements.
Most metal ladders are made from aluminum, which offers key advantages and disadvantages.
The advantages of aluminum ladders:
Aluminum material keeps ladders light and easy to transport. This can save time and energy on projects that require frequent ladder repositioning.
Compared to other materials, aluminum is inexpensive. This can help you save costs when buying multiple ladders.
Aluminum is corrosion-resistant and won't deteriorate in harsh weather conditions. This can be a great choice for getting long-term use out of your ladder.
The disadvantages of aluminum ladders:
An aluminum ladder can complete an electrical circuit between an electrical source, the ladder and your body. If you're working on an electrical project, aluminum ladders may cause shocks that could lead to falls and serious injuries if you come in contact with a live wire while standing on one. If your projects frequently involve electricity, an aluminum ladder may not be the best choice.
Reflects ambient temperature:
When you use an aluminum ladder in extreme sun or extreme cold, the metal will reflect your environment's ambient temperature. If you plan to use your ladder outdoors in the summer or winter, aluminum may not be conducive to comfortable work conditions.
The advantages of wooden ladders
Wooden ladders do not conduct electricity, which makes them a safe choice for electrical projects.
Like aluminum, wooden ladders are relatively inexpensive. This can help you save costs when buying multiple ladders.
Resistant to ambient temperature:
Wooden ladders won't become as hot or cold to the touch in extreme weather conditions. They may be a good choice if you need a reliable ladder during the summer or winter.
The disadvantages of wooden ladders:
Solid wood ladders are much heavier than aluminum ladders — especially if they are tall. If you're working on a project that requires frequent ladder repositioning, a wooden ladder may become cumbersome.
Potential durability issues: If wooden ladders are left outside in the rain, snow or extreme heat for long periods, they may begin to deteriorate. Wooden ladders may not be the best option if you plan to store your ladder outside or attach it to the outside of your company's work vehicles.
The advantages of fiberglass ladders:
Fiberglass is strong and will not crack or splinter. This may be ideal if you need a long-lasting ladder.
An advantage of fiberglass versus aluminum ladders is that fiberglass does not conduct electricity. If you work with or near electrical components, fiberglass ladders may be a good option.
Resistant to ambient temperature:
Fiberglass material does not retain as much ambient heat or cold as aluminum. This may be ideal if you plan to use your ladder outdoors in extreme heat or cold.
The disadvantages of fiberglass ladders:
Compared to aluminum and wood, fiberglass is more expensive. This may stretch your ladder investment beyond your budget.
Fiberglass material is heavier than aluminum, which may add strain to projects that require frequent ladder repositioning.