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Everyone knows what a ladder is and most have a good idea what it is used for, but if a ladder is not handled properly, serious injury could occur. Regardless of what you plan to use your ladder for, putting up Christmas lights, painting the house, cleaning windows, or working on the roof, it is crucial that you use the right type of ladder and not just any old ladder found in the garage. If you need a new ladder, make sure you match the ladder with its intended use. Above all, buy a quality, sturdily built ladder.

Ladders are made from wood, aluminum, and fiberglass. Each of these has advantages and disadvantages to consider. Wood ladders are the least expensive of the three. If kept dry by storing inside a shed or garage, a wood ladder is ideal for working around power lines or electricity. On the downside, wood ladders are not as stable in the taller sizes. Additionally, a wood ladder is heavy and because of the material, if dropped or hit with something, they will damage. If you buy a wood ladder, make sure you never paint it, thinking this will help it last longer. In actuality, the paint covers up flaws or cracks, which could result in you getting hurt by thinking the ladder is sturdy.

Aluminum ladders are lightweight, do not corrode, and can be purchased for a reasonable price. Unfortunately, this type of ladder can be deadly if it encounters electricity or electric wiring. The fiberglass ladder is the strongest and sturdiest of the three ladder types. This type of ladder is weather resistant and safe to use around electrical wiring. For professionals, this is the type of ladder preferred. The only downside to the fiberglass ladder is that it does cost the most.

As you begin shopping around, you will discover that ladders, regardless of material, are rated. The higher the rating, the more stable the ladder. Additionally, the higher the rating for a ladder, the higher the price you can expect to pay. A Type III ladder is designed for everyday, household use and has a weight capacity of 200 pounds. This rating is intended for periodic use and only light-duty type work. A Type II ladder is rated for medium duties and has a weight capacity of 225 pounds. This ladder is perfect for cleaning gutters, windows, or painting. A Type I ladder is ideal for heavy-duty use and has a weight capacity of 250 pounds. This all-around ladder can be used for household chores or commercial use. Finally, a Type IA ladder is designed for extra heavy-duty use and has a weight capacity of 300 pounds. This rating is the highest possible and intended for rugged use specific to commercial or industrial work.

Ladders seldom break and when they do, it is generally associated with an accident or misuse. Using care and common sense will allow your ladder to last for many years. Regardless of the age or material of your ladder, before every use, do an inspection to ensure nothing has come lose or broken. Make sure you do not overextend your reach while standing on the ladder. Work as closely to the ladder as possible, and do not try moving the ladder while standing on it. Another important safety consideration is to place your ladder at the proper angle. You need to make sure your ladder is set on firm ground and not sitting on wet, soggy ground, drop clothes, ice, loose material, and so on. Finally, always read the instructions that come with your ladder.
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