Small stepladders review and compare

Don’t risk your safety when washing the windows.
 
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  • Updated:26 Feb 2008
 

02.Results

The following models scored the best results in our test. 

What to buy
Brand Price
Bailey Satellite FS10450 $99
Gorilla Aluminium Contractor M003-C $65
Ullrich General Purpose GP03 $155

These three ladders were the only ones that stayed structurally sound after passing all our tests (the Gorilla and Ullrich failed the second walking test, but only just). We think that shows they’re the most robust for safety in everyday use.

About the rest

The remaining nine ladders failed at least one major safety test. For details of which test(s) they failed, see the table below and Not up to standard, but our testers also noted a few other factors:

  • The Geelong Single Sided and Ullrich Double Sided have two steps and a top cap — no platform. The former has treads on one side only, the latter on both sides. Both felt solid and stable when stood upon.
  • The Geelong Wide Tread DWSL3W, Household Safety First and Safety First are of very similar design and have three usable, wide (26 cm) treads including a top platform and a high safety rail.
  • The remaining ladders all have a platform with safety rail, but its height varies — see the table for details. The Lion and GAF have three usable steps; the Homemaker and House & Home have two.
 

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Results table

Full results for all models are shown the table below. 

  Performance
Brand / model Ease of use score (%) Stability test First walking test Stile bending test Tread to stile shear test Tread bending test Second walking test Price ($)
Recommended: These ladders passed all the key safety tests.
Bailey Satellite FS10450
www.baileyladders.com.au
90 Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass 99
Gorilla Aluminium Contractor M003-C
www.gorillaladders.com.au
85 Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Fail 65
Ullrich General Purpose GP03
www.ullrichmetals.com.au
75 Pass Pass Pass Pass Pass Fail 155
The rest: these ladders failed one of more of the safety tests.
Geelong Single Sided
03 5225 4400
85 Pass Pass Pass Fail Pass Fail 33
Geelong Wide Tread DWSL3W
03 5225 4400
85 Pass Pass Pass Fail NT NT 50
Household Safety First TR3-WHB (A)
1300 362 393
85 Pass Pass Pass Fail NT NT 50
Lion 3 Step Aluminium LT550R
www.lionaust.com.au
85 Pass Pass Pass Fail NT NT 119
Safety First 3 Step CRA030-3
www.hsw.com.au
85 Pass Pass Fail Fail NT NT 80
Ullrich Double Sided DST03
www.ullrichmetals.com.au
80 Pass Fail Pass Pass Pass Fail 139
Homemaker 2 Step Fold-up
www.kmart.com.au
75 Pass Pass Pass Fail NT NT 20
GAF 3 Step SL3 (A)
www.gafcontrol.com.au
60 Pass Fail Fail Fail NT NT 30
House & Home 2 Step
www.bigw.com.au
60 Pass Fail Fail Fail NT NT 22
 


  Features Specifications
Brand / model Number of steps Platform top step * Load rating (kg) Height (cm) ** Weight (kg) Material
Recommended: These ladders passed all the key safety tests.
Bailey Satellite FS10450
www.baileyladders.com.au
3 100 123 3.5 Aluminium
Gorilla Aluminium Contractor M003-C
www.gorillaladders.com.au
2 120 87 4.3 Aluminium
Ullrich General Purpose GP03
www.ullrichmetals.com.au
2 120 86 4.4 Aluminium
The rest: these ladders failed one of more of the safety tests.
Geelong Single Sided
03 5225 4400
2 100 85 5.7 Steel
Geelong Wide Tread DWSL3W
03 5225 4400
3 100 124 8.3 Steel
Household Safety First TR3-WHB (A)
1300 362 393
3 100 123 7.3 Steel
Lion 3 Step Aluminium LT550R
www.lionaust.com.au
3 120 116 2.6 Aluminium
Safety First 3 Step CRA030-3
www.hsw.com.au
3 150 123 7.3 Steel
Ullrich Double Sided  DST03
www.ullrichmetals.com.au
2 120 86 4.9 Aluminium
Homemaker 2 Step Fold-up
www.kmart.com.au
2 100 98 2.9 Steel
GAF 3 Step SL3 (A)
www.gafcontrol.com.au
3 125 105 5.8 Steel
House & Home 2 Step
www.bigw.com.au
2 100 77 4.7 Steel
 

Table notes

Ease of use score: this includes ease of folding and unfolding, and how secure the ladder feels when stood upon. Both aspects are weighted equally.

Price: recommended or average retail as of December 2007/January 2008.

* = All the platform stepladders have a safety rail at the top.
** = Includes safety rail, where present.
NT = Not tested due to previous damage, or the test isn’t applicable to this ladder.
(A) Discontinued, but may still be available in some shops.

How we tested

We tested the stepladders according to key clauses of the Australian standard AS/NZS 1892.1:1996 Portable Ladders, Part 1: Metal. For the first two tests we tested all ladders with the same loads, but for the remaining tests with a multiple of their rated load, as required by the standard. These are tough tests, but justifiably so, considering it’s your safety that’s at risk.

  • For the stability test, testers pre-loaded each ladder with a 120kg force, applied various forces to the front, sides and rear and observed whether the ladder’s feet stayed in contact with the ground.
  • The walking tests assess the ladder’s rigidity. Testers loaded each ladder with a 10 kg force, applied sideways forces to each side to raise the legs off the ground (as if you’d leant sideways or reached out) and measured the resulting movement of the front stiles (the sides that support the treads). They repeated this test after the other tests to determine which ladders still passed, and were the most robust.
  • The stile bending test checks that the stiles aren’t too flimsy and will survive heavy loading. Testers applied a force of four times the rated load, checked for structural damage and measured the stiles for permanent deflection.
  • The tread to stile shear test (with a force of three times the rated load) checks the treads (rungs) will survive heavy loading.
  • The tread bending test (with a load two-and-a-half times the rated load) checks the steps’ or rungs’ resistance to bending.
  • For the ease of use score, testers assessed how easy each ladder is to fold and unfold, and how secure it feels when stood upon.