These are the common ‘A-frame’ ladders, and are the most popular type for home use. For typical household tasks like indoor painting or changing light bulbs, a 1.8 m domestic stepladder is all that most people ever need.
Walking the walk
If a stepladder isn’t rigid enough, it can ‘walk’ when you shift your weight side to side — the ladder twists and moves unexpectedly. This can be very dangerous and cause you to fall. Stepladders that have spreaders (cross bracing) tend to be much more rigid and are less likely to walk. In our previous testing, diagonal spreaders generally gave better support than parallel spreaders.
The diagonal spreaders on the Dayton stepladder (left) are too high to add enough rigidity — spreaders need to be at about middle height, as on the ladder on the right.
When we looked around in Sydney at 1.8 m stepladders sold in major hardware and retail outlets, many of the available models appeared to be the same ones that passed our testing previously. So we picked just three models to put through the walking test. Two of the three stepladders — the GEELONG Single Sided Stepladder and the ULLRICH Light Duty Stepladder — passed the walking test, though only just. The third, the DAYTON 6 Foot Stepladder, failed, in our opinion because the spreaders are postioned too high to sufficiently strengthen the ladder (see the photo above).
We also tested two platform stepladders, the BAILEY Professional 4 Step and Satellite 6. Both passed the walking test.
Because we only tested the step ladders and platform step ladders for the walking test, we haven’t included them in the table or What to buy list.