In the past, ladders were almost exclusively made from wood. But as manufacturing processes have been refined and improved, sturdier materials including aluminium and fibreglass have become the norm. Each material is different and has its own range of advantages and disadvantages, so let’s have a look to see which kind might be right for you.

Wooden ladders

Very few companies that produce ladders still use wood as a material as fibreglass and aluminium have become far more popular. However, it may be the case that you have an old wooden ladder that you use for DIY and other tasks stored away.

Advantages: The main advantage of wooden ladders are that they are usually the cheapest option to buy and therefore can be replaced cheaply if they break. Wooden ladders also tend to be the lightest available to use.

Disadvantages: There’s a good reason that wooden ladders have fallen out of favour – wood is far less durable than either aluminium or fibreglass. Wooden ladders are liable to rot and are the most likely material to weaken or break. Older wooden ladders also have the least safety features, so they can be functionally the most dangerous to use.  

Aluminium ladders

Perhaps the most common kind of ladder on the market, there is a wide range of aluminium ladders that can be used for a broad variety of tasks. These can be perfect for all sorts of jobs around the house, but may not be ideal for every situation.

Advantages: Aluminium ladders are sturdy and hardwearing – much more so than wood. They are also much lighter than fibreglass ladders which means they can be more easily and conveniently transported. It’s also true that aluminium ladders have the tallest extensions, so for certain jobs they may be the only available option.

Disadvantages: While aluminium ladders are widely used throughout the country, there are certain situations where they are not ideal. As aluminium is metal it can be bent by very hot temperatures so in such situations you should look for a fibreglass alternative. It’s also true that aluminium conducts electricity so if you are working somewhere near a live current, fibreglass is also preferable.  

Fibreglass ladders

Tradesmen such as electricians and others who are at risk of electric shocks usually prefer to use fibreglass ladders. But for general DIY use or the majority of building works, they are not necessary. 

Advantages: Unlike aluminium, fibreglass doesn’t conduct electricity and it is also much more resistant to flames and high temperatures. This means that this kind of ladder is safer in certain situations.

Disadvantages: Fibreglass ladders are generally one of the most expensive options. And despite this, they are more likely to crack and get damaged easily. They are also know to degrade over time, so they will need replacing over a shorter time than an aluminium ladder will.