For many painting projects, selecting the right ladder affects everything from efficiency to safety—and even the final result of your project. Here’s a guide to choosing the best ladder for your painting needs.
A professional painter uses a step ladder, with a taller ladder on reserve that holds a gallon of Regal® Select Interior paint.
There are a number of factors that go into choosing the best ladders for painting, including the type of project you’re working on, the environment you’ll be using the ladder in, the height of your project and the weight load the ladder needs to bear.

You'll want a ladder that is super strong, has as many safety features as possible and is easy to stow away. Here are some key guidelines.

Choosing a Painting Ladder: Things to Consider

Ladder material, height, duty ratings and other considerations are all factors to understand when it comes to selecting the right ladders, for every type of job.

Ladder Material
When choosing a ladder, environment matters. Different ladder materials have different benefits and drawbacks depending on where you’ll be using them.

  • Fiberglass ladders are strong, stable and corrosion resistant. They are lighter than wood options, but heavier than aluminum ladders. They are also safer around electricity than aluminum ladders. Fiberglass ladders can experience long-term sun damage if stored outside.
  • Aluminum ladders are strong, stable and lightweight. Aluminum conducts electricity, so they may be dangerous around electrical work and power lines.
  • Wood ladders are heavy compared to other materials. They can run into expansion issues in the rain.

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Safety Note

Aluminum ladders conduct electricity and may be dangerous around electrical work and power lines.
Ladder Height
Beyond assessing the highest point of any given painting project, consider...

  • Many contractors consider it a best practice that an extension ladder should extend 8 to 10 feet longer than the highest area you need to paint.
  • Generally speaking, many ladder manufacturers state that every rung below the 4th highest is considered safe to stand on.
  • Indoors, it is essential to have non-slip feet on your ladder to avoid slippage on tile or hardwood floors for painting jobs that are higher up.

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Safety Note

Check out this roundup of safety concerns regarding ladders from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Ladder Duty Ratings
It's important to know the duty rating of a ladder—the duty rating is the maximum safe load capacity of a ladder, which can be found on its specifications label. Considerations include the weight of your tools, materials and of course, your full weight, as well as the weight of any co-workers who may also use the ladder. Standard duty ratings for ladders are:

  • Type IAA (Extra Heavy Duty): 375 pounds
  • Type IA (Extra Heavy Duty): 300 pounds
  • Type I (Heavy Duty): 250 pounds
  • Type II (Medium Duty): 225 pounds
  • Type III (Light Duty): 200 pounds
Source: American Ladder Association

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Helpful Tip

For extension ladders, look for interlocking side rails and modified beam construction with “D” shaped rungs; these are generally considered more comfortable and stable than models with round rungs.

Ladders: At-A-Glance by Type

Icon of a Step Ladder

Step Ladder

Icon of a Step Ladder
Ideal for interior projects relatively close to the ground. Available height = 2 feet to 4 feet or more. Look for features like a tool tray, automatic pail shelf, slip resistant steps, rubber molded foot pads, and extra stability braces for comfort and efficiency.
Icon of a Platform Ladder

Platform Ladder

Icon of a Platform Ladder
Similar to a step ladder, but includes a wide platform 12" x 19" or larger to stand on. Available heights = up to 14 feet. Look for non-slip steps, rubberized feet and a safety bar at the top that can also hold tools where and when you need them.
Icon of a Multi Position Ladder

Twin Step Ladder

Icon of a Multi Position Ladder
Basically two step ladders in one. Available heights = up to 20 feet. A heavy load can be applied to both sides, accommodating two painters at the same time. Also features a platform for standing.
Icon of an Attic Ladder

Extension Ladder

Icon of an Attic Ladder
Best for painting stairs or multi-story exterior projects. Available heights = up to 40 feet. Stability is extremely important when it comes to extension ladders. Interlocking side rails and modified beam construction with “D” shaped rungs are generally considered more comfortable and stable than models with round rungs.
Icon of a Scaffold


Icon of a Scaffold
This is a next-level option for specialty painting projects, and is often better to rent versus buy. Consider using planks or scaffolding for multi-level exterior painting projects that require an abundance of tools or reach heights over two stories.
For more expert advice, visit your local Benjamin Moore retailer for help with all of your painting needs, or contact your local Contractor Representative.

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Helpful Tip

Renting a ladder might make sense if your painting projects are of inconsistent height, or if you don’t have adequate storage for a ladder.
This guidance is provided for general informational purposes only. The information presented above does not, and is not intended to, constitute comprehensive ladder usage or safety advice. Readers should carefully review and follow all manufacturer usage and safety instructions.
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