Is the fiberglass ladder better than aluminum?

Introduction

Ladders have been part of us since the 19th Century. They remain unrivaled when it comes to their function and form. They are versatile, easy to carry and can be used to perform different types of tasks.

The very first ladders were made of wood, bamboo and rope. You may still find these being used in some countries. However, due to advancements in technology, most modern ladders are made of either aluminum or fiberglass. These two have their own pros and cons, and have been confusing consumers for a long time.

When choosing either, it’s best to first learn about their properties. This will not only help with picking the right ladder for the right job but also getting value for your money. You do not want to splash cash on a ladder that may not serve your needs in the long run. This article looks at the differences between aluminum ladders and fiberglass ladders.

Fiberglass ladder description

Fiberglass ladders boast a wide variety of features. For starters, they are heavier, meaning they provide a stronger, rigid and sturdier posture than aluminum ladders. However, due to their weight, they’re hardly used as full-length extension ladders. They are normally used as step ladders.

A standard step ladder is nonadjustable and self-supporting. It is only meant to be used by one person at a time on a firm and level surface. It should never be more than 20 feet long. If you need a longer ladder, it’s best to buy an extension ladder. Many such ladders are made of aluminum.

Fiberglass ladders that are used as step ladders alone should always be put on stable bases. They should never be put on barrels, boxes or other items to add to their height. This could easily lead to a fall. If necessary have someone hold the base to help with stability.

Fiberglass is more expensive as a material when compared to aluminum. This means that fiberglass ladders will cost you more. They are also safer because they do not conduct electricity. You will not have to worry about getting electrocuted while you work on live wires.

Fiberglass is also more durable as a material and has better weather-resistant properties. Unfortunately, due to its weight, ladders made from fiberglass are not easy to move around. They are the least preferred choice in places such as construction sites because they can be cumbersome to handle.

Strong sides

  1. Safer because they are non-conductive. They are able to resist heat and electricity.
  2. Stronger, sturdier and more rigid.
  3. Fiberglass is more resistant to weather elements and more durable.
  4. In case they get hot, fiberglass ladders do not lose their strength.

Weak sides

  1. Not easy to carry around due to their weight.
  2. More expensive.
  3. May not be available in a variety of styles and designs.

Aluminum ladder description

Aluminum ladders are mostly used as extension ladders because they are lighter and easier to move around. Extension ladders provide greater length. There are non-self-supporting versions that need to be put against a wall or stable surface for use.

If you’re working on something that requires you to move from one point to another, an aluminum ladder would be perfect as it is not cumbersome. The lightweight nature of the aluminum material means that the ladder will not need too much muscle to move around.

Aluminum ladders are available with different weight limits. This is also referred to as the Duty Rating. It indicates the maximum weight capacity a ladder can safely carry without giving in. Aluminum ladders have a weight rating of between 200 and 375 pounds.

To determine the total amount of weight rating that you need, consider your weight, that of your protective gear and clothing, weight of supplies and tools that you’ll be carrying and the weight of supplies and tools that you may have stored on the ladder.

When it comes to durability, aluminum ladders last long depending on their use. If they are well maintained, they can last just as long as fiberglass ladders. Never leave your aluminum ladder out in the rain as this could affect its durability.

Today, most manufacturers install rubber stand-offs and other forms of insulation to make aluminum ladders electrically resistant. This not only makes them safer but also increases their usability range.

Strong sides

  1. Lighter than fiberglass ladders making them easier to move around.
  2. Cost less than fiberglass ladders.
  3. Available in a wide range of styles and design.
  4. Easier to repair if broken.
  5. Will not chip or crack when handled roughly.
  6. Unlike fiberglass ladders, aluminum ladders can extend beyond 20 feet.

Weak sides

  1. Can weaken when exposed to chemicals or salt air.
  2. Can conduct electricity if used near live electrical lines.
  3. Is more likely to conduct heat in hot environments.

Overview and Conclusion

The decision to pick either a fiberglass ladder or aluminum ladder depends on the type of task you have at hand. If you’re working on electricity, it’s best to avoid any metal that can cause an electric shock. Our bodies can complete an electric circuit if we are placed between the power source and the ladder. This can be very dangerous.

However, if you’re working away from electricity and need a ladder that you can easily move around, aluminum ladders are a great option. They are light and inexpensive. Fiberglass ladders are ideal where you don’t need to move about often. They are stronger, sturdier and safer since they do not conduct electricity and heat. They are also a great choice where the buyer does not mind spending more money on a stronger and safer ladder.

No matter what type of ladder you buy, always remember to maintain it well. Lubricate any pulley and metal bearings to prevent corrosion. Ladders with structural defects or faulty parts should never be used. Also, never use a fiberglass or aluminum ladder that has been exposed to strong chemicals or fire.

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