- Project plans
- Project activities
- Legislation and standards
- Industry context
Last edited 16 Jan 2021
A ladder typically comprises two uprights that are connected by a series of parallel horizontal elements called 'rungs' which support a person’s weight and can be thought of as steps: stepping on one rung after another produces vertical movement either to allow ascent or descent.
Ladders may be differentiated by:
- One-section ladder – the traditional configuration comprising two uprights linked by a series of parallel rungs.
- Multi-section ladder – allows greater reach but can be bulky to handle and transport. Sections of equal length slide over each other to increase the ladder’s reach. They can be light if they are made from aluminium and so are popular with roofers and decorators.
- Step ladder – comprises two sections that are pivoted at the top to provide a stable independent structure, usually used for domestic and decoration purposes but with limited vertical reach. It is so-called because the user’s feet rest on treads (steps) as opposed to rungs, making them generally easier and safer to use. They can be folded flat for easier storage.
- Telescopic ladder (usually aluminium) – these are relatively recent products made of tubular aluminium. They can have a reach of 3-4m and the vertical sections and rungs telescope into a very compact package which can be easily carried. This typically suited to domestic use.
- Cat ladder: Usually a steel or aluminium ladder that features a protective cradle along all or some of its extent. Users are therefore afforded some protection from falling while moving within the cradle. Cat ladders are usually permanent fixtures bolted to the outside of buildings.
- Wood ladders are usually the simplest and are the traditional solution. Unlike steel or aluminium, they usually have a limited vertical reach and are less durable. The wood – with time – may become weakened or the rungs may be damaged and therefore become dangerous. They are also easier to vandalise as wooden rungs can be sawn through; if this is imperceptible, the ladder becomes treacherous.
- Steel ladders provide a strong, durable solution but are usually heavier than both wood and aluminium. They are typically seen as step ladders (sometimes with timber treads) or as permanent vertical ladders fixed to a wall.
- Because aluminium combines lightness, low-cost and strength, it is seen in many applications that traditionally would have used wood or steel.
Working on ladders can be very dangerous. This is clearly demonstrated by the Ladder Association 'Idiots on ladders' competition. https://ladderassociation.org.uk/ladder-exchange/idiots-ladders-competition-2015/
 Related articles on Designing Buildings Wiki
Featured articles and news
Can the profession use its skills to save the world from climate change?
How faulty science resulted in sanitation reform.
Improving facilities, accessibility and overall appearance.
Free download of TG 12/2021 available.
TESP works with The Youth Group to form skill sharing network.
Big tech collaborates on platform for the built environment.
Letter signed by 21 organisations sent to MHCLG.
A look at the Government's strategic approach.
Steps to help reduce the spread of infection inside buildings.
This social media-centred hobby can be both dangerous and illegal.
Millwork wall treatment with a long and illustrious history.
HSE introduces cumulative exposure calculator.
The Edwardians and their houses.
Cut off from civilian life for over 900 years.
Click the button to subscribe.