Ladder buying guide - what kind of ladder do I need?

Whether you need to change a lightbulb or re-tile the roof of your home, choosing a ladder that suits the height and nature of the task is paramount for your safety. With so many ladders on offer, it can be hard to know which type of ladder you should choose. We'll take you through the different kinds of ladders to show you how to choose between ladders, step ladders, scaffold towers or work platforms. 

A Quick Note On Safety

Besides making sure the ladder you're using is appropriate for the task at hand, it's important you know how to use it safely. Some basic ladder safety tips include:

  • Checking the ladder is leaning at the correct angle against the wall
  • Making sure your step ladder is open and locked into place
  • Wearing appropriate clothing that won't restrict you or snag on the ladder
  • Ensuring the feet are non-slip and in good condition
  • Making sure you won't exceed the maximum load the ladder can safely support

More On Ladder Safety >

Questions to Ask Yourself Before Choosing a Ladder:

  1. What will you be using it for?
  2. How tall does it need to be?
  3. What material should it be made of?
  4. How long will you be up the ladder at any particular time?
  5. How big is the space you have to store and transport it?

We've put this guide together to give you a bit of information about the different kinds of ladders we offer, what they're commonly used for, and why they're different to other types of ladders on the market. We hope this helps you find the ladder you need but, as always, if you do have any questions, give us a call - 01446 789 538.

Step Ladders

Step ladders can be used almost anywhere because they don't require a supporting wall. This makes them ideal for a wide range of jobs including window cleaning, painting and decorating or construction work. They tend to come with a special mechanism that locks them in an 'A' shape, it's important that you engage this feature before you try to use your step ladder. Let's take a closer look at a few different step ladder options we have.

Folding step stool

  • Small Step Stools

When you need to access something just slightly out of reach eg. the top of a shelf or a light fitting, a small step stool is a great option. The Hailo K30 Folding Step Stool is a particular favourite because it's small and lightweight yet sturdy enough to be used all around the home including; in the kitchen or in the garage.

Double sided step ladder

  • Swingback & Platform Step Ladders

These types of step ladder are perfect for both domestic and trade applications. The main difference between the two types is the addition, or lack of, a platform at the top of the ladder.

Swingback step ladders (without a platform) are perfect for quick jobs, or jobs that don't require lots of equipment. They can be quickly moved from one location to another which is great for travelling tradespeople.

Meanwhile, platform ladders provide you with additional space so you can pick up and put down tools or materials while you work. This means you can work at height for a longer time if necessary.

Some of our top swingback and platform step ladders include; Heavy Duty Class 1 Swingback Step Ladder, Professional Platform Step Ladder, and Class 1 Double Sided Step Ladder (shown above).

Shop All Step Ladders Here >


  •  Fibre Glass Step Ladders

Fibre glass ladders are special because they can be used in scenarios where there's an electrical or thermal hazard. Why? Because fibre glass is a great electrical insulator and is naturally incombustible so it will protect you from electrocution and won't catch fire. Because of these properties, fibre glass ladders are a popular choice in the building industry.

We offer a range of fibre glass step ladders including; Super-Trade Glass Fibre Swingback Step Ladder, Heavy Duty Glass Fibre Platform Steps & Megastep (shown above), but there are plenty more to choose from in our step ladder range.


If a step ladder can't provide the reach you need, you might find that a ladder is more suitable for your needs. Ladders come in all shapes, sizes and materials so you might be struggling to decide which one is right for you. If terms like 'combination ladder' or 'telescopic ladder' are going over your head, don't worry, we'll break them down and show you which ladders suit different kinds of jobs. 

Rope operated extension ladder

  • Extension Ladders

Extension ladders can be made up of two or three sliding sections that can be extended to provide reach up to 10 metres! They're favoured by tradespeople and DIY-ers for their versatility and compact storage size. If you need to work at height, but not on a roof, a simple extension ladder is a perfect solution. Always account for one metre above the highest point you'll expect to work so you'll never be left ladder-less.

Here at Ladders UK Direct, we offer double, triple and rope operated extension ladders, all of which are incredibly easy to use. Some of our favourite extension ladders include; LFI Super-Trade PLUS Triple Extension Ladder, Youngman T200 Double Extension Ladder, Triple Section Rope Operated Extension Ladder (shown above).

Shop Extension Ladders Here >

Glass fibre ladder

  • GRP Ladders

What does GRP stand for? GRP is Glass Reinforced Plastic - also known as fibre glass. It's strong, incredibly lightweight and, as we discussed previously, highly non-conductive and incombustible. This means that GRP ladders are ideal for industrial use or for use around electrical or fire hazards.

A few of our favourite GRP ladders include; Werner Fibre Glass Utility Extension Ladder ALFLO, Glass Fibre Double Extension Ladder, and Glass Fibre Single Ladder (shown above).

Shop GRP Ladders Here >

Telescopic ladder

  • Telescopic Ladders

As far as compact ladders go, you can't get more compact than a telescopic ladder! Working in a similar way to binoculars or a telescope (where the name originates), these ladders can be packed down to a very small size when they're not in use. This style of ladder is perfect for people with limited space, or for people who need to reach tall height on the move. They can fit comfortably into most car boots, cupboards and vans. 

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Combination ladder

  • Combination Ladders

If you're going to need to use your ladder regularly and for a range of different jobs, then a combination ladder is ideal for you. Combining the functionality of a step ladder, an extension ladder and a stairwell work platform, you're really investing in a good all-rounder.

Both parts of the combination ladder can be adjusted to suit different heights and can even be spread across multiple levels for access above stairways, something that most other ladders are unable to offer! The Werner 725 Reform Ladder (shown above) is one of our favourites because it features comfortable D-shaped rungs and can be used in any environment. View all of our combination ladders by clicking the button below. 

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If you have any questions about the ladders mentioned in the guide, or if you'd like our help choosing the right kind of ladder - get in touch. Our friendly team will help you make the right purchase.