We’ve all been there—you need to use a ladder for a project or to put something on a shelf, but you’re anxious about how much weight the ladder can hold. After all, there have been many horrible incidents in which ladders suddenly broke, causing all sorts of injuries. So, what is the load capacity of a ladder?
Most ladders can hold at least 200 pounds (91 kilograms). Load capacity varies based on a ladder’s size, design, and material. Ladders manufactured for everyday household use generally have a lower load capacity than those made for heavy-duty use.
In this article, I will tell you about different ladders and the amount of weight they can bear. Read on to learn how to choose a ladder suited to your needs.
How To Measure a Ladder’s Strength
Before purchasing any ladder, regardless of make or size, you will want to measure how much weight it can hold.
Doing so will help you avoid any unfortunate accidents in the future!
There are three ways to estimate the strength of a ladder:
- Ladder type
What Are The Different Types Of Ladders And The Load Capacity For Each?
The ladder’s type is the easiest way to estimate its strength, as it will be stated clearly on the specification label.
By looking at the rating on the label, you can get a sense for how much weight a ladder will be able to hold.
The ladder strength rating is related to five different categories:
1. Type-IAA and Type-IA Ladders
Type A ladders can hold up to 375 pounds (170 kilograms) in weight. Type-IAA and IA are typically extension ladders, step ladders, and fire escape ladders, which means they can not bear more than 375 pounds (170 kilograms) in weight.
2. Type-I Ladders
Type-I can carry even less weight than Type-IAA and IA. It is designed for professional use rather than home use. This type of ladder can typically be found on construction sites. As the chart below indicates, Type-I ladders have a maximum load capacity that stops at 250 pounds (113 kilograms).
Type-II ladders are typically recommended for maintenance work, painting, and household work. This type of ladder’s load capacity does not exceed 225 pounds (102 kilograms) in weight. Type-II ladders are usually composed of wood, fiberglass, and aluminum materials.
Type-III ladders are recommended for light housework, as their load capacity stops at a maximum of a mere 200 pounds (90.7 kilograms). This type of ladder is best suited for household chores that do not require loading the ladder with a significant amount of weight.
Are Ladders Color Coded by Weight?
Simple color codes can also be used to recognize ladder load capacity.
Have you ever noticed how many ladders have a color on the very top step? Some ladders are orange on the top, while others might be yellow.
The colored step at the top of a ladder follows a color code signaling the ladder’s strength and the type of work it was designed for.
The chart below expains ladders color codes and their meanings:
|Ladder Classification||Weight Capacity (pounds/kg)||Ladder Specification||Color Code|
|TYPE-IAA||375 Pounds (170 kg)||Special Duty||Yellow|
|TYPE-IA||300 Pounds (136 kg)||Extra Heavy-Duty||Red or Orange|
|TYPE-I||250 Pounds (113 kg)||Heavy Duty||Blue|
|TYPE-II||225 Pounds (102 kg)||Medium Duty||Green|
|TYPE-III||200 Pounds (90.7 kg)||Light Duty||Peach or Pink|
Ladder Material Affects Load Capacity
The material the ladder is made from is also essential to consider, as it factors into the load capacity of the ladder.
For example, a wooden ladder is stronger than a plastic ladder.
The materials and their load capacity are as follows:
- Plastic material can hold up to 300 pounds (136 kilograms) in weight.
- Fiberglass material can hold up to 500 pounds (226.8 kilograms) in weight.
- Aluminum material can hold up to 375 pounds (170 kilograms) in weight.
- Steel material can hold up to 1000 pounds (453.6 kilograms) in weight.
- Wooden material can hold up to 300 pounds (136 kilograms) in weight.
Take a ladder’s material into account when choosing a ladder for a specific task.
Aspects of a Ladder’s Design Affect Load Capacity
Ladder design is the third and last element that plays a vital role in determining the weight capacity of a ladder.
A ladder built with many braces, rivets, and bolts can bear more weight than one without this design.
In other words, a heavy-duty ladder will be able to handle more weight than a step stool.
Understanding Basic Ladder Safety
Now that you know how to identify the weight capacity of a ladder, you will want to understand the basic rules of ladder safety.
These simple rules apply to all ladders, regardless of their load capacity:
- Do not use a ladder if you feel tired, dizzy, or lightheaded.
- Make sure you select the right ladder for the job, as per the instructions above.
- Always place your ladder on level ground.
- Do not place ladders in front of closed doors.
- Avoid using ladders in bad weather, such as storms or high wind.
- Only one person at a time should climb the ladder.
- Wear slip-resistant shoes.
- Always make sure your ladder is in good working condition. (Is it missing parts?)
Wear Slip-Resistant Shoes to Avoid Injury
One of the basic rules of using a ladder is to wear slip-resistant shoes. Slip-resistant shoes will, as the name suggests, keep you from slipping off the ladder and possibly injuring yourself.
A good pair of slip-resistant shoes will have an excellent grip on the sole.
Slip-resistant shoes are often used in restaurants to help employees avoid slipping in spilled food, but they will work just as well on ladders!
Here are some good slip-resistant shoes on Amazon.com (affiliate links):
- Fila Men’s Memory Workshift Shoes. These slip-resistant shoes are designed for men. They are an excellent choice due to how comfortable and well-designed they are. Not only will they keep you from slipping, but they’ll keep your feet from aching as well!
- Shoes for Crews Women’s Liberty Slip Resistant Sneakers. These slip-resistant shoes are designed for women. They are water-resistant and have a “removable cushioned sole.” Compared to other shoes for women on the market, they are not only of decent quality but also of a reasonable price!
The load capacity of a ladder depends entirely on its type, design, and material.
You should take all of these factors into account when choosing a ladder for a specific task.
With the information given above, you can easily find the load capacity of any ladder. Remember to exercise caution and use all ladders responsibly.