Heavy-Duty Roofing Ladders: Your Stairways to Heaven!
As a company that gets jazzed by any new technologies— whether it be in software development or in manufacturing— we at iRoofing love the newest innovations in ladder design. As the saying goes, make a better mousetrap and the world will beat a path to your door. We can relate… iRoofing did just that for roof measurement reports! (Thanks for that nugget of wisdom, Ralph Waldo Emerson).
No doubt, some of these ladders do cost a pretty penny, but for safety, portability, and infinite durability, these are your stairways to Heaven. Of the top 10 riskiest jobs, roofing holds the dubious ranking of #6. Falls, potential electrical shocks, and injuries by unknown hazards…anything can happen up there, especially when the roof isn’t in good condition.
Full Disclosure: iRoofing is a roofing software company with an app that almost makes ladders obsolete in the estimating and sales stage! With iRoofing’s mobile app, you can measure any roof using satellite, HD aerial, drone, or blueprint images, then create an instant, accurate roof report… in most cases you do not have to climb a ladder for an estimate or even get to the site. You can also generate a detailed estimate right away. You can simulate how new roof materials and roof colors will look on an image of the owner’s property. There are many other things iRoofing can do to reduce your ladder time and cut out arduous visits back and forth to job sites. You can even conduct great sales presentations from afar and respect people’s desire for social distancing! But, of course, you have to climb a ladder to install a roof or do any kind of close-up inspection. (Hint: Use iRoofing’s new Roof Inspection Report Tool for that. Coming Soon!)
8 Best ladders for roofing
For the sake of simplicity, there are basically 3 types of ladders. Step ladders, extension ladders including telescoping ladders, and folding ladders. There are other types of specialty ladders that convert to scaffolds; fixed ladders, such as roof access ladders that attach to structures; tripod ladders, and ladders with safety cages, but we’ll stick to standard ladders used by roofers. And, since iRoofing is an American company with worldwide reach you may find a few ladders featured here that are difficult to find in the U.S. and Canada.
1. Werner 12-ft Fibreglass Step Ladder
Werner has long been a trusted name in ladders. Their tallest step ladder is made of fibreglass and can hold up to 300 lbs. It weighs a reasonable 65 lbs and has a functional top cap which Werner calls a HolsterTop because it can hold a hammer and other objects. It sells for about $300. https://www.wernerco.com/
2. Little Giant PRO Series 300-Pound Folding Ladder
This aluminum ladder has a cool, black anodized armor. It screams high-tech. It can be set up as a step ladder, but it folds/unfolds to a 17-footer. It has wheels that work when you tip the ladder to move it from place to place. https://www.littlegiantladder.com/
3. 16-ft Westward/Grainger Fiberglass Extension Ladder
This ladder is made in Mexico by Westward – and it’s a GraingerChoice Product. It earns an impressive 1A rating (see section about Ladder Ratings) and meets all OSHA and ANSI standards. This ladder will run you about $200. With a set of roofing ladder hooks, it can serve just about any need a roofer has, including one’s need for a steep roof ladder. With roofing hooks (not pictured) attached, it makes a convenient, affordable ladder for roofing needs. https://www.grainger.com/
4. Zarges Telescopic Ladder
Zarges, the 80 year old company that claims they invented the telescopic ladder, offers space saving German engineering in its innovative telescoping ladder. The company also makes fixed ladders and a variety of other high quality metal products including steps, platforms, and scaffolding. https://www.zarges.com/. Can’t find Zarges ladders where you live? Try the affordable LionLadder https://www.lionladder.com/
5. Chase Sloping Roof Access System
Our friends on the other side of the pond (that’s the UK, a.k.a. Great Britain, but specifically Wales in this case) have been specializing in ladders since 1987. Their ladders support 385 lb.s and feature folding handrails, a safety chain, and suction pads to secure the ladder to windows, if necessary. It goes for about $1,800 US. https://www.chaseladders.co.uk/
6. 16-ft Louisville Ladder Twin Front Step
Strong, tall and American-made, this ladder is crafted from heavy-gauge steel with a double rivet step construction and slip-resistant rubber feet. It boasts a 375-lb. Load capacity. Twin front step ladders allow two workers on the ladder simultaneously. The Louisville 16-ft twin front step sells for about $600. https://louisvilleladder.com/
7. Bailey Triple Extension Ladder
For our roofing partners down under, Bailey ladders are the way to go. These tough ladders may be hard to find in North America, but they’re #1 in Australia where iRoofing has recently added a substantial amount of aerial imagery on top of its satellite imagery to serve loyal Aussie contractors and new ones becoming part of our Hi-Tech Roofer community! The Bailey triple extension aluminum ladder holds up to 300 lbs. It extends approximately 14-feet and collapses down to a very portable size with a carrying handle, to make it easy for you. In the U.S. it would run about $200, if you can locate a distributor. https://www.baileyladders.com.au/
8. 24-ft Werner D-Rung Extension Ladder
The longer the ladder, the more you worry about strength and stability. Worry no more because Werner makes some of the best ladders on the planet. Werner’s aluminum extension ladder supports 375 lb.s, has rungs with special traction treads and slip resistance. Since it’s type 1AA rated, you know you’re in good hands. https://www.wernerco.com/
Ladder Parts and Specifications
As a roofing professional you should check roofing ladder certifications whenever buying a new one. Good ladders are ANSI certified and OSHA compliant. Here are the terms commonly used to define a ladder:
- Length or Height includes the total length along the side rails that hold the rungs.
- Load Capacity is a total weight, not to be exceeded, of the climber and his/her tools to ensure ladder safety. Also referred to as “live load.”
- Weight is the total weight of the ladder, not to be confused with the weight specified for load capacity.
- Reach Height is normally defined by adding 4 feet to the total length of the ladder. It’s used to suggest a safe height at which an average person can drive in a nail, or operate similarly, while on the ladder.
- Width is the distance between each rail, measuring from their outer surface.
- Top-to-Bottom Rung Length leaves off the extents of the side rails that go past the top and bottom rungs.
- Side Members or Side Rails are the vertical parts of the ladder that hold the rungs. Ladder specifications usually give the gauge-size of the steel, aluminum, or fibreglass material used for these longest parts of the ladder.
- Climbing Rungs are simply the steps of the ladder. Ladder specifications include the top rung, though according to OSHA “never stand on the top two rungs of a stepladder or top four rungs of an extension ladder.”
- Stand-Off Brackets connect to a ladder in order to keep it from leaning up against an unstable base, such as a gutter.
- Wing Span refers to certain ladders with top and bottom rails that flare out at a slight angle to create a more stable grounding or better stabilize the top of the ladder against whatever surface it leans against.
- Ladder Material refers to the material of its main components— steel, aluminum, fibreglass, or if you’re going truly old-school, wood!
- Mill Finish refers to the shape, diameter, and texture used for the rungs.
- Type III-Light Duty – 200 lb. live load capacity (homeowner grade).
- Type II-Medium Duty – 225 lb. live load capacity (commercial handyman grade).
- Type I-Heavy Duty – 250 lb. live load capacity (construction grade).
- Type 1A-Extra-Heavy Duty – 300 lb. live load capacity (industrial grade).
- Type IAA – 375 lb. live load capacity (heavy-duty industrial grade).
Climbing ladders for a living is risky business. Always be careful. Wearing the right footwear for roofing can help you stay safe up there. Many ladder related accidents are preventable with the use of a vertical lifeline or a rope grab system. Werner offers many products for fall protection, including compliance kits, harnesses, lanyards, and retractables. Perhaps, most important to your safety is equipping your contracting business with sufficiently rated, high-quality ladders like those we featured above. Stay safe and happy roofing!